The first renovations to the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in 25 years were announced today as part of a comprehensive plan to restore, reconstruct, and rehabilitate the Grosse Pointe Shores estate. The proposed plans include the construction of a visitor center and administration building, as well as an upgraded, eco-friendly parking system.
If approved by the city’s planning commission on Jan. 10, 2017, the renovations will be the largest new construction project since the home was built in 1927.
The new 40,000 square foot visitor center will be a two-story building in the location of the current visitor center, which space for enhancing the orientation, education, and overall experience of Ford House visitors. The space will also include an education wing with two multi-use classrooms, an exhibition space for rotating features, and an orientation space with an audio-visual presentation on the history of the Ford family. The Cotsworld Café and the retail space will also be renovated and expanded.
“The addition of these two buildings is an important step in furthering the vision my grandparents, Eleanor and Edsel, had for their estate,” says Edsel B. Ford II, chairman of the Ford House board of trustees. “This phase of the master plan will provide us with the opportunity to interpret the entire home. Continuing their legacy in a sustainable manner is a top priority for the board and for the entire Ford family.”
The 17,000 square-foot administrative space will house all the Ford House’s staff offices and operational activities, taking the heavy use off the antique space and allowing the historic buildings to more closely resemble how they were used by the Ford family.
The international architecture firm, SmithGroupJJR, has been retained for the project. Both new buildings are designed to demonstrate sustainability best practices. The administration building is designed to achieve a “net-zero” or “net-positive” facility and the visitor center will seek LEED Gold designation.
Additionally, a new eco-friendly parking lot has been designed to preserve nearby wetland areas. Rows will be separated by bio-swales planted with environmentally-beneficial vegetation to help filter the quality of storm runoff. This is a continuation of a 2015 effort to ensure water from the estate is cleaned before running off into Lake St. Clair.
The Ford House is projected to remain open during construction, which is scheduled to begin in summer 2017, pending the city’s approval.