Ford Motor Company
Landscape Design: Mikyoung Kim Design
Transportation Design: Buro Happold
Civil Engineering: Giffels Webster
The Train Station Design: Quinn Evans, AvroKO, Brand Bureau
The Book Depository Design: Gensler
Bagley Parking Hub Design: Rossetti
Cost Estimation: Mark Allan & Associates
Market Analysis: Streetsense
In the summer of 2018, Ford Motor Company purchased Detroit’s Michigan Central Station—a locally beloved, Beaux-Arts icon—with the goal of adapting the station as the centerpiece of a new mobility innovation district. Opened in 1913 during the heyday of train travel in the area, the station was abandoned in 1988 after use fell dramatically and Amtrak ended service to the site. Abandoned for decades, the station transitioned from a symbol mirroring the city’s prosperity and potential to its stasis and decline, but it is now poised to represent the rebirth of this great American metropolis.
Ford subsequently hired PAU as their lead architect and strategic planner in order to create a community-driven public space and design vision for the Station and its surrounds within the context of the city’s larger framework plan for the area, including the potential for major new parks and innovative new commercial structures. Situated close to downtown Detroit, alongside a large, underutilized public park, and near a major thoroughfare with a grassroots retail community, the Station’s site is a prime spot for catalytic investment that will strengthen the surrounding neighborhoods. PAU is collaborating with Mikyoung Kim Design as the site’s landscape architect.
PAU’s plan facilitates moments of collaboration and serendipity, not only between Ford employees, but also other building tenants, academic partners, and the community. Around the site, opportunities for public placemaking were identified to create nodes of social space, transforming the site into a magnet for neighborhood activity and interaction. The plan also calls for modest, high-impact upgrades to the existing public infrastructure, such as repainting existing structures and installing new lighting to improve the pedestrian experience around the station.
Directly behind the station, the historic train platforms will be repurposed as a mobility testing platform, providing Ford and their innovation partners with a space to publicly showcase emerging technology, including autonomous concept vehicles and micro-mobility transportation initiatives. Beyond displaying and testing technology, the platform will provide space for pedestrian connections and allow for its reconfiguration to support a variety of public uses.
PAU has developed recommendations for possible street improvements to control circulation and create a more pedestrian-friendly urban environment, including the rerouting of streets around Roosevelt Park. The parking requirements stipulated by Detroit’s zoning are met through efficient parking garages in targeted areas. The garages are part of a district-based parking strategy where multiple user-groups share facilities that may include public amenities. PAU’s plan locates parking on the perimeter, encouraging employees to walk through the neighborhood, preserving the area directly around the station for public space and future development.
PAU’s vision for the site is cognizant of other long-term initiatives like the West Riverfront Park greenway and Detroit Planning and Development Department’s master plan for Michigan Avenue and North Corktown, ensuring that the reimagined neighborhood around the station is integrated with the City’s broader initiatives.