Ford House

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tage of the 87-acre es­tate’s frontage along Lake St. Clair, of­fer­ing views of Ford Cove and Bird Is­land. Once the build­ings are com­pleted, which should be by spring 2019, vis­i­tors will be able to take in the pic­turesque view and in­ter­act with the es­tate in new ways, of­fi­cials said.

Like the Ed­sel and Eleanor Ford house, which was de­signed by Al­bert Kahn, the build­ings will be a “con­tem­po­rary in­ter­pre­ta­tion” of an English Cotswold Vil­lage, each with a lime­stone ex­te­rior and a slate roof, said ar­chi­tect Bob Varga, vice pres­i­dent and de­sign prin­ci­pal with Smith­group JJR in Detroit.

Varga, whose firm worked on the de­signs for more than a year, said it wasn’t about copy­ing the ar­chi­tec­ture of the main house, which was des­ig­nated as a Na­tional His­toric Land­mark in 2016, but mak­ing it com­pat­i­ble. Each build­ing will also have steep arch gables and prom­i­nent chim­ney fea­tures.

“You want to have it work in har­mony,” said Varga.

The cost of the two new build­ings hasn’t been dis­closed, but both projects will give vis­i­tors a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the es­tate in a new way. There will be a new vis­i­tor ori­en­ta­tion space when guests first ar­rive, a sec­ond-floor event space with food ser­vice and seat­ing for 200, ded­i­cated space for trav­el­ing and chang­ing ex­hibits, a water­side restau­rant and an ed­u­ca­tion wing. The old vis­i­tors cen­ter, built in 1990, will be torn down.

It’s about tak­ing the legacy of Ed­sel, the only son of Henry Ford, and Ele­naor and their four kids, and an­swer­ing “how do we move that legacy for­ward?” said Kath­leen Mullins, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Ford House.

Part of that is through en­vi­ron­men­tal ste­ward­ship, she said. The new ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing — which will con­sol­i­date the es­tate’s ad­min­is­tra­tive staff now spread out in var­i­ous build­ings in one lo­ca­tion — will be what’s called a net-zero build­ing, mean­ing it’ll gen­er­ate as much en­ergy as it uses. That’ll be done through dozens of pho­to­voltiac pan­els that will cover the roof.

Var­gas said the board of the es­tate, which along with Ed­sel in­cludes Martha and Ben­son Ford, was vo­cal from the be­gin­ning of the plan­ning process that they wanted the new build­ings to be as green, or en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly, as pos­si­ble.

The build­ings “will serve as an ex­am­ple of how his­toric es­tates can do this,” said Mullins.

Ed­sel and Eleanor Ford House

The artist ren­di­tion of the vis­i­tor cen­ter shows Cotswold Cafe, which will have 80 seats in­side and 40 out­side with views of Ford Cove.

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