Ford taps Snøhetta to design new downtown Detroit campus

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In the latest turn of events around Ford’s return to Detroit, the motor giant has tapped Snøhetta to lead the design of its new Corktown campus, along with the renovation of its headquarters in Dearborn.

The Oslo-based architecture firm will be tasked with envisioning Ford’s campus at the newly acquired Michigan Central Station, according to The Architect’s Newspaper. The design will attempt to strike a balance between new-build and preservation, with the former train station serving as both the company’s corporate campus and an “innovation hub” for transportation research. 

Snøhetta’s past design portfolio includes the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center site in New York City.

Ford unveiled its plans to move to Detroit last week, touting it as a new chapter in Corktown’s history and promising new retail space, restaurants, and offices, in addition to 2,500 jobs. The renovation of the decrepit Beaux-Arts train station, long a symbol of Detroit’s decline, is tentatively expected to be completed in 2022.

Meanwhile, the Michigan Central Station blueprint complements Ford’s plan to overhaul its Dearborn facilities over the next ten years, transforming it into a green and high-tech campus. Plans for the facilities include the use of energy- and water-saving technologies, green spaces that incorporate walking trails and bike paths, and expanded coworking spaces. The conceptual design is expected by the end of the year.

The news comes as downtown Detroit sees a revival, with real estate booming and more companies attracting a young workforce from the surrounding suburbs. Ford itself pulled out of the city a little over two decades ago amid a looming financial crisis, potentially sounding the death knell for the city’s economic prospects. Now, it seems the company has made amends with its once-scorned former home.