DEARBORN – Ford Motor Co. unveiled detailed plans to transform its Research & Engineering Center here into a high-tech, efficient campus for thousands of its designers, engineers and product development workers Sept. 17.
The focal point will be a new central campus building which sits on the site of Ford’s 66-year-old Product Development Center, on the northwest corner of its Research & Engineering Center. Future home to Ford’s product development community, initial construction of the new building will be complete by the end of 2022.
Paired with the restoration of Michigan Central Station in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood into a collaborative space to create future mobility solutions, the new facility will help Ford speed product and technology innovation and attract world-class talent.
Sitting along Oakwood Boulevard, the central campus building is scheduled to be finished in 2025 and house more than 6,000 Ford employees – mainly designers and vehicle development teams – creating an inviting, walkable community entrance to the company’s Research & Engineering campus.
Ultimately, the master plan envisions a campus of interconnected buildings that could one day house more than 20,000 employees in a flexible, high-tech environment.
“Our vision for our Dearborn Research & Engineering campus – and our new Corktown campus and Ann Arbor robotics lab – will enable Ford to lead the next era of transportation and personal mobility, and help us continue our founding mission of driving human progress through the freedom of movement,” Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett said.
The new master plan framework is the result of a two-year research and planning process led by Snohetta as lead architect, landscape architect and master planner.
Transformation through design
In the last decade, connectivity, automation, electrification and other technologies have dramatically shifted the automotive and mobility landscape.
“We are building workspaces of the future in Dearborn and globally that will bring all of our people, with their incredible talent and energy, together in one place,” Ford Land Chairman and CEO David Dubensky said. “Having all employees in state-of-the-art interconnected buildings will facilitate a better flow of ideas and catalyze opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing – driving efficient product innovation.”
The new master plan also transforms community engagement as the Research & Engineering Center moves closer to Oakwood Boulevard to be more open and connected to the surrounding neighborhoods. Plans include an increase in public spaces and shared paths that bring employees and local residents together, as well as coffee shops and restaurants that can serve as meeting places and communal spaces.
The plan envisions a campus built with flexibility so it can adapt to changes in the industry and work practices. With more freedom to decide where and how they want to work, employees can take advantage of adaptable furniture and flexible workspaces outfitted with the latest productivity tools and technology.
Movement within the campus will be pedestrian-focused and transit-rich, connected directly to amenities and networked through a shared transportation loop, limiting personal vehicle access to the perimeter of the site. The campus will showcase new mobility solutions such as electrified bikes, scooters and shuttles, evolving over time as autonomous vehicles and other transportation emerges.
The design of the architecture and landscapes promotes natural light, high ceilings and views of nature, keeping employee health and well-being at the core of the new campus. Amenities will include cafés and restaurants that prioritize sustainable, local products and farm-to-table food sourcing. There will be connected outdoor environments people can use across all seasons, such as pavilions, courtyards and covered walkways.
These broad moves in turn intensify the tree density and wetland landscape across the remainder of the site. Where possible, natural environments will be restored to keep the needs of people, vegetation and wildlife in balance.
“We envision a quilt of interconnected buildings, with Ford teams woven together in such a way that enables collaboration and innovation in its transformed workspace,” said Craig Dykers, co-founder of Snohetta. “Natural and built environments, employees and communities, moving in one Ford ecosystem, and connected with the world around it.”
Source: Ford Media Center