Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan
85 acres / 20,000 gsf
Historic Preservation, Landscape Architecture, Master Planning
The only son of automotive pioneer Henry Ford, Edsel Ford was one of the world’s leading industrialists in the 1920s, when he and wife Eleanor commissioned renowned architect Albert Kahn and landscape architect Jens Jensen to design their 87-acre family estate. Located on Lake St. Clair, the estate is a showcase of early-20th-century design in architecture, landscape, and the decorative and fine arts. Open to the public since 1978, it needed restoration and repair work. The client also sought improvements to increase visitor attendance and expand programming, while carefully maintaining the estate’s historic integrity.
SmithGroupJJR restored the home and aging landscape to reflect the estate’s period of significance (1929-1943). The work addressed a number of issues, including overuse of the main house, electrical upgrades and better stormwater management. Most visible is a new pedestrian bridge to Bird Island, allowing visitors to access the peninsula created by Jensen, where they can learn about a new bioswale and other environmental improvements that more effectively manage runoff and improve the flow of fresh water. This thoughtful project succeeded in preserving and restoring the estate’s historic resources, while enhancing the visitor experience to this American treasure.