How Can A Building Be A Positive Force Of Nature And Community?

At the heart of the project lies a 10.5-acre living roof—the world’s largest green roof installation at the time.

Ford Rouge Center Landscape Master Plan,
Dearborn, Michigan

William McDonough + Partners led the master planning and revitalization of this historic site and facility. The ambitious 20-year plan pioneered strategies and technologies for brownfield redevelopment, sustainable industry, corporate citizenship and environmental regeneration. The new master plan integrated a new form of stormwater management infrastructure that saved the company $35 million in capital costs over conventional systems. At the heart of the new system lies a 10.5-acre living roof—the world’s largest green roof installation at the time.

By relying on a landscape-based infrastructure requiring a minimum use of pipes, the new stormwater system cost less than one-third that of conventional practices, and created a powerful and highly-acclaimed business case model for sustainable design. The natural stormwater system also created new and revived habitats on the site for native birds, butterflies, insects and microorganisms, generating a larger biological order. 

A green roof was the most compelling solution to the stormwater problem at the Rouge. The idea made intuitive sense: The soils and grasses that comprise functional living roofs absorb water just like the soil and plants in a healthy landscape. Within five days of the roof going down, local killdeere had nested and laid their eggs in the sedum. Turns out that those who had said a 10-acre green roof was ‘for the birds’ were right after all.


Ford Motor Company


Master plan and stormwater management plan


600 acres


Completed 2000


William McDonough + Partners
Nelson Byrd Woltz
D.I.R.T. Studio, Landscape Planning Partners