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Spring Grand Opening Announced for New Visitor Center


P: 313-872-2202

C: 313-530-7882

Project Progress and Update

Eleanor Ford hoped her beloved family home would be a place for the public to find inspiration, solace and joy. With the completion of the largest construction project since the home was built in 1928, her wishes will be honored and amplified. The two-story, 40,000-square-foot Visitor Center, designed as a contemporary interpretation of the original Albert Kahn designed home, will provide new opportunities to tell the Ford story and superior visitor amenities including a restaurant, classrooms and banquet rooms with stunning views of Ford Cove. An adjacent administration building frees the original home of operational functions, allowing for enhanced historic restoration and public programming.

Today, the Visitor Center is nearly 75 percent complete and a grand opening is planned for spring 2021. Much of the current work is focused on finishing the interiors including flooring and millwork. Exterior finishes are nearly complete, and landscaping will be planted in the coming weeks. Exhibition construction, retail installation, furniture and finishings will be installed early next year, allowing the Ford House team time to acclimate to the building and prepare to welcome visitors into this dynamic, new space.

Architectural Features

Detroit-based SmithGroup designed the Visitor Center to reflect and respect the Albert Kahn designed Ford House. The new building incorporates the Cotswold style within a contemporary vernacular. The building features a limestone exterior and slate roof, with steep arch gables and prominent chimney features. The interiors will have a modern décor that is influenced by the Modern Rooms in the main house, using rich wood, warm tones, recessed lighting and sleek furnishings. Event spaces feature distinctive tile treatments and acoustical plaster ceilings. Like the original home, the new buildings are sited to take full advantage of the waterfront property and landscaping.

Nearly all contractors for this project are Detroit-based businesses. In this challenging construction environment, our contractors and their talented tradespersons take pride in contributing to such a unique project. The Ford House expansion will not only be a true testament to their individual skills, but will showcase a seamless collaboration between over 30 local contractors.

Visitor Center Amenities

The Visitor Center will provide several spaces to support and enhance the visitor experience. Features include:

  • A dedicated orientation and exhibition area.

  • An education wing with two classrooms with removable walls for maximum flexibility, plus access to outdoor learning spaces.

  • A full-service, fine-dining restaurant and a grab-and-go food service area.

  • A second-floor event space with window walls overlooking Ford Cove, seating for 200, full audio-visual capabilities and food service.

Environmental Sustainability

  • The buildings were designed to accommodate migratory birds with windows made of patterned glass specially designed to help birds avoid window collisions caused by reflections.

  • Several bioswales and environmentally beneficial vegetation are strategically positioned within the parking lot system to pre-treat runoff water before it reenters Lake St. Clair and to complement another bioswale near Bird Island.

  • The Administration Building was designed to be energy Net-Zero to Net-Positive, creating as much or more energy than it consumes. Any excess energy created will generate energy for the Visitor Center.

  • The buildings are equipped with solar panels and photovoltaic cells to harvest solar energy.

  • Occupancy sensors and photocells will adapt lights and ventilation systems as needed to improve efficiency, make the room more comfortable and improve efficiency based on the occupancy level.

  • Wood from fallen and removed trees on the estate was milled and used to construct tables in the restaurant.

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^ The exterior of the new, state-of-the-art Visitor Center, entering the final stages of construction.

^ Administration building nearing completion.

^ Visitor Center lobby viewed from a second-floor vantage point.

^ The exhibition space in the Visitor Center that will house our first temporary exhibit, Driven by Design, which will showcase three one-of-a-kind cars and tell the story of Edsel Ford's stylish and significant contributions to American automotive design.

^ Stunning views of Lake St. Clair from inside the event rental space, second floor of the Visitor Center.

^ "The Cove" gathering and pre-event space in the Visitor Center.

^ Visitor Center lobby.

^ Visitor Center main staircase.

^ Covered walkway outside the Visitor Center facing Ford Cove and connecting to an adjoining paved plaza.

^ Landscaping, inspired by the historic core, adding beauty and color around the administration building.

^ Ford House's new Visitor Center, opening 2021, with exhibition galleries, an education wing, a new restaurant, a reimagined shop, event rental space and more.

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