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Hagerty Employee

Ford bids a fond farewell to its historic Product Development Center

Nearly 75 years after Henry Ford II announced the creation of Ford Motor Company’s Product Development Center, the automaker is planning to build a larger, more modern facility on the same site in Dearborn, Michigan. Before that can happen, however, the old one has to go, but not before a walk down Memory Lane—or, more appropriately, down Mahogany Row.


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Advanced Driver

UHHHH, we're gonna destroy this historic bldg so we can build a newer one. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight, ... sure ... that'll REALLY be better than building UP with 

new stories ABOVE the historic and storied original architecture. Oh, wait, I'm a stockholder .. maybe I should complain thru company channels.

Intermediate Driver

That's what I don't understand about Americans. They come to England, buy London Bridge, which they disassemble so that they can ship it back to USA, where they rebuild it in a dessert but then want to demolish one of their oldest motor car historic buildings in order to build a new modern building. I must say that I like your idea of building over it, thereby keeping the old and the new is a much better idea.

I agree. And having worked in commercial and residential construction, I can tell you from experience that it is MUCH cheaper to build up than it is to build out. As far as Detroit being dead, that has as much to do with 50 yrs of bad political decisions as it does with corporate decisions to move out. The same thing happened in my home town of Danville Illinois. I don't think this is the place to discuss politics so I will quit here.
Pit Crew

The removal of a historic building, ceasing production of the Lincoln Continental, all narrated by a man wearing a mask.  So 2020.

New Driver

I spent 22 years at Dearborn Proving Ground and PDC, now it's all going away to make room for new bldgs. I have a suggestion: FIX THE CARS AND TRUCKS YOU SOLD, FIRST, then GIVE BACK ALL YOU STOLE FROM US RETIREES, before spending millions (if not BILLIONS) on new bldgs. that you don't need. Spend money rehabing or repurposing the Design Center and the rest of Product Development. Then, when the economy recovers, do what is necessary (and ONLY that) in the way of new construction. Put money in the bank. Shore up BAD DESIGNS/VEHICLES out in the public now, fix what YOU KNOW IS BAD, get yourselves back in the good graces with the public, FIRST!


I worked in that building for a few years and can say that most of it was in need of replacement.  It served its purpose well but Ford needs something much better.

Another thing to consider is that Ford is trying to figure out how to attract and retain young talent.  It's hard to do when every foreign maker has modern tech centers, as are both GM's and FCA's.  If given the choice of working in Ford's sh!thole or one of the other places for similar money, I think you know where most people would work.

Advanced Driver

Building over it may not be so easy -- the existing structure may not support a second story. Still, it's a big area. Why not save the separate Rotunda, remodel parts of it, and tear down the larger building, building around the saved Rotunda? Save some history and have a new building at the same time!


Pit Crew

Not surprised with most of the designers and staff there now they have very little attachment to history. I did find it interesting that an American company wants us to buy an American car but hires a Norwegian company to design the new building. Way to keep Americans working Ford. 


Hope they did something fun with the mahogany.  Back in the 80's when they were restoring the foundation of the national capital building, they cut up the original sandstone blocks into book ends and made them available for purchase; a set of which I still have.


"The new Product Development Center is being designed by Snøhetta, a Norwegian architectural firm." Speaks volumes, doesn't it? Meanwhile, Detroit is dead, the "Big 3" spent a fortune building new factories outside the US while, "foreign" mfrs. invested billions in new and expanded domestic facilities. While the 50's watched our steel and auto industries become outdated and management and labor split the "peace dividend" of a postwar economy, the Japanese quietly listened to their customers, and improved quality with process control and kaizen, the US carmakers kept sitting at the poker table looking for someone to stake them, "just one more time".