Following an extensive six year renovation, Ford will give the public a first look at the interior restoration of its historic Michigan Central Station from 6-16 June.

The automaker began the preservation project after acquiring the long abandoned train station in 2018, developing it as the centre piece of Michigan Central, a 30-acre technology and cultural hub in Detroit’s Corktown neighbourhood.

Michigan Central will bring Ford employees together with external partners, entrepreneurs, students – and competitors- “to co-create new products, services and technologies“, according to the automaker.

“Michigan Central means a great deal to us all. In many ways, this building tells the story of our city,” said Bill Ford, executive chair of Ford, who this week has been showing US national TV news reporters around the building.

“This station was our Ellis Island – a place where dreamers in search of new jobs and new opportunities first set foot in Detroit. But once the last train pulled out, it became a place where hope left. In 2018, I decided it was time to change that by reimagining this station as a place of possibility again. Over the past six years, Ford Motor Company and teams of forward thinkers, designers, community leaders, and more than 3,000 skilled tradespeople have worked to bring this landmark back to life.”

Since renovations began in late 2018, more than 1.7m hours have been spent meticulously returning the station to its original architectural grandeur, while retrofitting it with modern technology and infrastructure to support its next chapter.

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Ford at Michigan Central

Ford is among the building’s first tenants and will move employees from its Model e and Integrated Services teams into newly renovated office space across three floors starting later this year. It will also have collaboration space for other south east Michigan-based employees to use. 1,000 employees will work across the Michigan Central district by the end of the year, with a goal of 2,500 by 2028.

The innovation hub will provide 640,000 square feet of cultural, technology, community, and convening spaces designed to inspire creative collaboration between established companies, universities, growing startups, youth initiatives, students, and other stakeholders.

Originally designed by architects Warren & Wetmore and Reed & Stem, the same team behind New York’s famed Grand Central, Michigan Central Station first opened its doors in 1913 as one of the country’s most spectacular transportation terminals. It saw 4,000 daily passengers at its peak, but, following decades of declining rail travel, was shuttered in 1988 and sat vacant for three decades, experiencing severe neglect, weathering, decay and vandalism.

Construction teams looked to old and new technology to ensure accuracy to historical standards and to preserve, re-create, and repurpose different aspects of the building from all chapters of its life. To provide 600 tons of limestone, developers located the same quarry in Indiana that provided the original stone for the exterior 100 years ago. The quarry had been closed for three decades and needed to be reopened for the project.