Ford unveils 10-year plan to transform Dearborn campus – The Detroit News
Ford Motor Co. will drastically redevelop its outdated Dearborn properties into a walkable, aesthetically pleasing work environment reminiscent of a college campus or Silicon Valley startup.
Over the next 10 years, the automaker plans to relocate 30,000 employees currently spread throughout 70 Dearborn buildings into two main campuses — a product campus across the street from Oakwood Boulevard and The Henry Ford Museum, and a World Headquarters campus near the Glass House.
The long-term project will include demolishing certain facilities and updating existing ones. Ford will build a new design center and new zero-waste sustainability showcase building, and completely renovate the interior of the Glass House. Early renderings call for basketball courts, softball fields, walkable paths with lakes, flowers and trees, and the ability for employees to move around the campuses using e-bikes, autonomous cars and shuttles.
“As we transition to an auto and a mobility company, we’re investing in our people and the tools they use to deliver our vision,” Ford President and CEO Mark Fields said in a statement. “Bringing our teams together in an open, collaborative environment will make our employees’ lives better, speed decision-making and deliver results for both our core and emerging businesses.”
Fields made the announcement to employees and the news media in separate webcasts Tuesday.
Construction will begin later this month on a number of new parking structures, Fields said. Raj Nair, Ford’s product chief, said the renovations won’t affect product development in Dearborn.
Ford tapped SmithGroupJJR for the project, the same architecture and engineering firm that designed offices for Google, Microsoft, Tesla, GM Tech Center and campuses at the University of Michigan and Indiana University.
“The overarching theme is to make the lives of employees better,” Donna Inch, chairman and CEO of Ford Motor Land Development Corporation, said in an interview. “Bringing people together within 10-minute walking diameters of each other… the productivity gains are pretty significant.”
Ford’s new product campus will double the number of employees who work in the area now, from 12,000 to 24,000. Currently known as the research and development campus, it was dedicated by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953.
Renovations will include “connected facilities” that feature the latest wired and wireless hardware; a central green area that links buildings; and energy-saving features like geothermal heating and cooling. The centerpiece will be a new 700,000 square-foot Design Center that will include studios and an outdoor design courtyard. Ford will demolish the old space, except for the 14,000-square-foot design showroom.
The World Headquarters campus will include more than 1.3 million square feet of reworked space, including a new building for Ford Credit next to the Glass House.
A rendering shows an atrium at the front of the Glass House that Inch says could be used as a welcome lobby for visitors.
The interior of all the new buildings will be designed with more collaborative work spaces, adjustable-height desks, natural lighting, indoor and outdoor cafes with Wi-Fi, on-site fitness centers and healthy eating options. The new buildings will deliver about 50 percent annual energy use reduction, and a significant water and storm water reduction.
Executive Chairman Bill Ford, who has long touted the automaker’s sustainability efforts, said in a statement that the project “incorporates thoughtful ways to improve the environmental footprint of our facilities, while creating a vibrant workplace that inspires our employees.”
Inch declined to reveal a price for the massive undertaking. “It’s a long-term project and there’s a lot of moving pieces,” she said.
She said Ford will not need to purchase additional property and the renovations will take place within the 7.5-million square feet it already owns.
The announcement comes nearly a year after General Motors Co. announced a $1 billion investment to expand and renovate its Warren Technical Center. That automaker also plans to offer employees the ability to move around campus on autonomous vehicles.
Ford’s construction will start this month at its Research and Engineering Center. Work on Ford’s World Headquarters will begin in 2021 and be complete in 2026.
“It’s really exciting for our team,” Inch said. “It’s about moving into the next century.”