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Ford releases plans for major overhaul of Dearborn campus

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Many of the buildings on the 700-acre campus will be replaced in favor of a more walkable, integrated research center

Birds-eye view of a sprawling campus of winding, low white buildings surrounded by trees. It’s near sunset and the buildings have lights on. Renderings by Snøhetta and Plomp

Ford Motor Company is currently undertaking a massive redevelopment of Michigan Central Station in Corktown.

Meanwhile, it just released new plans for a total overhaul of its Research and Engineering Center in Dearborn. After a two-year planning phase, lead architect and planner Snøhetta outlined some of those changes in the framework.

Many of the buildings on the 700-acre campus will be replaced, including the automaker’s Product Development Center, which is expected to be torn down in 2023.

In its place will be 2.2 million square feet of new space that Ford is describing as a “living laboratory” in which it can test future mobility technologies. It will make the campus itself part of the testing grounds and encourage use by its 20,000 employees of multimodal transit—bikes, walking, electric vehicles. Distances between buildings and parking space will also be greatly reduced from 40 percent to 8 percent of the total campus area.

Rendering of an outdoor space in winter. There’s a circular, glass building on a curving pedestrian path. Many people with coats are walking.

The landscape will also see extensive work, with plazas, courtyards, and roofscapes being added, along with a large increase in green space usable for both employees and visitors.

Ford plans on working with the city of Dearborn and Wayne County to make the two major access points to campus, Oakwood Boulevard and Rotunda Drive, “complete streets” with trees, seating, and pedestrian and bike paths.

The buildings themselves will have open workspaces with wall-length windows, outdoor terraces, and rooftop decks. These new designs will replace, what the Detroit News described as the “low-ceiling, cubicle-riddled labyrinth that is Ford’s existing research and engineering center.”

Rendering of a people-filled curved office space with no walls and floor-length windows. There’s autumn-colored trees in the middle.

Ford hopes the new new product and development center will be completed by 2025, with the first phase of construction for 2,000 employees being done by the end of 2022.

The automaker declined to state how much the redevelopment would cost, but Crain’s Detroit Business estimated the amount somewhere between $550 million to $660 million.

Corktown’s campus is expect to cost around $740 million.

A rainy day in the center of a large campus. There’s small cars, people with umbrellas, and elevated buildings with lights on.