New Life for an Urban Landmark

Michigan Central Station

Michigan Central Station

Detroit, Michigan

We transformed Detroit’s iconic train station into the centerpiece of a new mobility hub for the Ford Motor Company. Collaborating closely with Ford, we led a multidisciplinary team of architects, engineers, historians, and conservation specialists to rehabilitate the monumental structure. The renewed Station houses a dynamic mix of cutting-edge office, retail, and public space.

Michigan Central serves as the flagship for Ford’s Corktown innovation district, a place for research and development in the rapidly evolving field of mobility. Our design incorporates preservation and placemaking strategies to create an inclusive and inspiring setting.  The adaptive reuse of the historic station connects Detroit’s pioneering past to a promising future.

If all we did was to restore this fabulous building and make it sparkle, that would be great. But we’re going to do much more than that. It’s really about creating the future of transportation. And doing it in Corktown.

Community Placemaking

The Station’s grand waiting room, ticket lobby, and concourse will be restored as public spaces for daily activation and special events. Adjacent spaces will provide dynamic dining, retail, and interpretive experiences. All spaces are designed to evolve as the district continues to grow and change.

Exterior Restoration

We worked closely with a structural engineer and mason to develop a collaborative approach for extensive masonry cleaning and repairs. Our envelope design is informed by analysis from a suite of advanced modeling tools, which helped us identify ways to make the envelope more energy efficient.

Supporting Historic Tax Credits

The project is seeking Historic Tax Credits (HTCs) through a federal program that allows historic building owners to recoup some of the costs of rehabilitation. Our design complies with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards, a requirement for a successful HTC application.

Storytelling Moments

The wealth of artifacts and stories associated with the Station provided us with a unique opportunity to ground this forward-thinking development within Detroit’s history. We developed interpretive themes that guided the curation of historic objects to be displayed throughout the building.

Systems Integration

We seamlessly integrated complex modern building systems into the historic fabric of the grand public spaces, upgrading their comfort without compromising their integrity. In the office tower, IT and HVAC systems are designed to be flexible and adaptable to tenants’ requirements.

A Monumental History

Among the few surviving grand railroad stations from the early 20th century, the elegant Beaux-Arts building was completed in 1913 and was once the tallest train station in the world. Following a decline in rail ridership, the Station sat vacant for three decades before Ford acquired it.

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