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The Design and Building Team
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SmithGroup is a nationally recognized, fully-integrated design firm with more than 1,100 employees in 10 offices in the U.S. and a presence in Shanghai. The firm serves clients in the health, workplace, higher education, science & technology, cultural, urban design, and waterfront arenas. With 152 LEED certified projects and 420 LEED professionals, the firm is a national leader in sustainable design and planning. SmithGroup project teams deliver high performance, environmentally responsible places and buildings that are designed to the highest standards.


SmithGroup assisted in the restoration of Ford House as well as the landscaping on the property. The firm counseled on reducing overall use within the main house, advised electrical upgrades, and recommended more efficient storm water management. SmithGroup also led the creation of the pedestrian bridge to Bird Island, allowing visitors to access the peninsula, where they can learn about the property’s environmental improvements and more.

Bob Varga, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Lead Architectural Designer

Though Bob’s creative problem solving design process, the new Visitor Center and Administration building provide fresh viewpoints and new concepts of functionally appropriate, aesthetically exciting design solutions. Creating a structure that is historically respectful of the site as well as meeting the needs of the 21st century visitor and employee are just a few of the innovative design solutions employed under Bob’s direction.  Bob is a Design Leader in SmithGroup’s Detroit office with over 20 years of experience.


Ben Grobe, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Project Designer

Ben developed an architectural expression using modern interpretations of the Cotswold style, which is sympathetic to the existing structures on the site, for the two new buildings. With the goal to enrich the visitor experience, Ben’s detailed design and planning will help improve education programs, expand rental and exhibits space and increase food and retail spaces. Ben is an Architect in SmithGroup’s Detroit office.


Paul Evanoff, PLA, LEED AP

Landscape Architect

Having worked at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House since 2011, Paul has been engaged on a number of important commissions that has guided recent planning and capital improvements at the estate. His work on the historic landscape restoration master plan and restoration guidelines, site irrigation replacement project, storm water construction project as well as the Visitor Center and Administration Building sites have developed this campus into what you see today. Paul is a Senior Landscape Architect in SmithGroup’s Ann Arbor office with over 30 years of experience.


Brittany Fiema

Mechanical Engineer

Brittany’s early iterative energy analysis and occupancy studies guided the path toward net zero energy design.  Taking a small-footprint, high-efficiency design approach, Brittany harmonizes state-of-the-art mechanical systems with the high-end aesthetic of the project site. Brittany is a Mechanical Engineer in SmithGroup’s Detroit office.



Francesca Montana

Electrical Engineer

Through her past experience with the Ford House site electrical renovation, Francesca designed the expansion of the site electrical system to accommodate the new Visitor Center and Administration Building. Through integration with all disciplines, the electrical systems meet both the functional and aesthetic demands of the project. The photovoltaic system provides enough energy for the Administration Building on a yearly basis while showcasing the Ford Family’s long-standing commitment to sustainable design. Francesca is an Electrical Engineer in SmithGroup’s Detroit office.


Luke Renwick

Lighting Designer

Luke Renwick is a lighting designer who enjoys the challenge of merging art and science with architecture to humanize the user experience. In careful accentuation of beautiful foliage, building forms and rich materiality, he worked to create a warm, “welcoming-home” connection for visitors, employees and the local community with energy efficient lighting and control technology.

Luke is a Lighting Designer in SmithGroup’s Detroit office.

Frank Rewold and Son Inc.


Based in Rochester, Mich., Frank Rewold and Son Inc (FRS) is a multi-generation construction company with core services rooted in construction management, design/build and general contracting services. In its fourth generation of family leadership, the company is dedicated to preserving the past and building for the future.


FRS has historical familiarity with projects in the Grosse Pointe area and has many specialties including the installation of geothermal renewable energy systems as well as the implementation of LEED® standards. FRS has expertise in several market segments, including nonprofit, historic restorations, K-12, private and higher education, healthcare, municipal, religious, hotel, commercial, automotive, library, recreation and financial institutions.

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