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Ford breathes new life into Michigan Central Station

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Detroit’s most famous landmark is set to begin a new life as automotive giant Ford starts its renovation of the 105-year old Michigan Central Station this week, which will bring hundreds of new jobs and projects to the city.
Michigan Central Station has been abandoned since 1988 but now Ford plans to give it a new lease of life.
(Image via Ford US).

In what will be a three-phase project, Michigan Central Station will be the centrepiece of a 1.2-million-square-foot innovation campus where Ford and its partners will work on autonomous and electric vehicle businesses as well as designing urban mobility services and solutions. 

It’s an extremely positive development for Detroit with the project expected to create upwards of 2,500 new jobs in additional to the 2,500 Ford employees who will be relocated to Corktown, the site of the new campus.
Ford plans to turn Michigan Central Station into a center for autonomous and electric vehicle research and design
(Image via Ford US).

A building with a rich history

Since it’s opening on January 4th, 1914 Michigan Central Station spent the first part of its life as the main intercity passenger rail depot for Detroit, initially built for the Michigan Central Railroad. At the station’s peak from the 1920s to 1940s more than 4,000 passengers a day would pass through its doors- the most notable of whom included Presidents Herbert Hoover, Harry S. Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Other notable passengers included Charlie Chaplin, inventor Thomas Edison and the artist Diego Rivera.

The station also held significance for many local Detroit residents during this period as it was heavily used during the Second World War as a departure point for fathers, husbands and sons who were making their way to fight in the European and Pacific theatres of war.

With the post-war growth in automobile ownership however, passenger volumes steadily decreased, and Amtrak took over the running of the station in 1971, eventually ceasing operation in 1988 and leaving the station abandoned and a shadow of its former glory.
Ford will utilise advanced building techniques such as 3D printing in the renovation of Michigan Central Station
(Image via Ford US).

Rescuing and restoring an architectural icon

Once the building is dried out- a process that will take around six months for the majority of the structure- the construction team will move on to the second phase, which includes replacing mechanical and electrical systems and restoring the exterior masonry. The train station is comprised of eight acres of masonry and certain aspects of repair restoration can only be done in good weather.

The final phase will focus on finishing the interior, returning the waiting room to its original grandeur, and restoring plaster and other decorative pieces. Ford plans to use 3D printing to create the various molds and mockups that will be required in replicating the many historic elements that have deteriorated over the years or are missing. It also includes creating new office space, new areas for public interaction and new retail space.

More visible signs of the building’s transformation will begin next summer when an extensive scaffolding system goes up and an exterior construction lift is added to the east end of the station. The masonry work is expected to take three summers.
A revived Michigan Central Status will be the hub of a 1.2 million-square-foot innovation campus.
(Image via Ford US).

A bright future for Michigan’s Auto industry

Ford’s decision to rescue the Michigan Central Station is emblematic of a city on the up. The restoration of the station will create a world-class facility which will once again put Detroit at the cutting-edge of global automotive design and manufacture.

The restoration of Michigan Central Station is one of only a number of projects which are creating new jobs and opportunities across the state. Ford has also recently inaugurated a new $45 million advanced manufacturing center in Redford which will focus on pursuing innovations in 3D Printing, Augmented Reality and the use of Collaborative Robots in the manufacturing process. Several of Chrysler’s plants in the city have recently achieved World Class Manufacturing Awards which recognise process improvements and employee engagement levels. GM has committed to investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the city as part of its path towards digitalisation.

And, there’s much more positive news on the horizon for Detroit…

Be part of Detroit’s bright Automotive future with Fircroft

Since 1970 Fircroft has recruited technical and engineering professionals for the biggest names in the global Automotive industry. Amongst our clients are famous names such as Bentley Motors, Lotus, Jaguar Land Rover and countless others. Register for free with Fircroft now and we’ll notify you as soon as our latest jobs become available in Detroit. You can also explore our current automotive job vacancies here.
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Ford breathes new life into Michigan Central Station - Time to read 4 min
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