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Ford Motor Company Driving Dynamics Lab

Dearborn, MI

Located trackside at Ford Motor Company’s Dearborn Development Center, the Driving Dynamics Lab (DDL) is a multifunctional building that embodies Ford’s research-driven culture and anchors their campus redevelopment. DDL remedies the workflow and efficiency challenge Ford experienced when related departments, such as those that test vehicle

performance, durability, and acoustics, are scattered across a vast campus. Now, DDL houses trackside operations and engineering functions within one building, creating unity and cohesion between product engineers and test technicians.

Natural daylight pours inside the large garage space where technicians and engineers test and swap out parts on prototype vehicles before they go out on the test track. Nearby, acoustic testing laboratories, mechanical testing laboratories, engineering offices, and fabrication spaces can be found. Meanwhile on floors above, employees have a variety of spaces for collaborative work, a large cafe, and terraces that overlook the track. Designed to achieve LEED Gold, this facility reduces its impact on the surrounding area and supports the wellbeing of employees.

Looking forward to the future of automobile design and technology, DDL also incorporates advanced testing spaces like the Driver Autonomous Technology laboratory and the most advanced vehicle Noise, Vibration, Harshness testing facility Ford has constructed to date. This includes a Hybrid Acoustic Test Chamber that accommodates a large range of test vehicles, is capable of environmental temperature testing ranging from -40° degrees to 140° degrees Farhenheit, and has an all-wheel drive chassis roll dynamometer. A sound transmission loss suite, incorporating a spring-isolated anechoic chamber and reverberation chamber carefully isolated from structure-borne noise, allows for accurate prediction of acoustic performance.

The design of DDL also recalls the rich history of the site. For well over 100 years, Kahn has been designing and engineering new facilities alongside Ford’s team of engineers and project managers. This legacy is especially apparent this site. In 1924, Henry Ford opened the Ford Airport here, which remained in use until October 21, 1947. Albert Kahn designed several airport buildings including an airplane factory, where the famous Ford Tri-Motor Airplane was created, as well as an airplane hangar. After the airport closed, the site transformed into a hub for testing vehicle performance.

Salvaged historic items feature prominently in the design, reminding users of the site’s prior role as Ford’s airport. A nose cone and blades from the original wind tunnel, as well as windows, doors, and wooden roof planks from the site’s former passenger terminal, hold places of honor within the new facility. As the center for vehicle testing and innovation, the design of this facility is driven by its function as a world-class engineering center, the future of mobility, and the legacy of Ford Motor Company.


LEED Gold Certification
2021 Engineering Society of Detroit, Construction and Design Award
2021 ENR Midwest Project of the Year (Energy/Industrial)

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