Driving Dynamics Lab
Dearborn, Mich.
Best Project

Owner: Ford Land, a Subsidiary of Ford Motor Co.
General Contractor: Walbridge Aldinger
Lead Design Firm/Structural Engineer/MEP Engineer: Albert Kahn Associates
Civil Engineer: Mannik Smith Group

The Driving Dynamics Lab (DDL) at Ford Motor Co.’s Dearborn Proving Ground houses a broad range of vehicle testing labs, a full garage and shop space as well as collaborative workspaces and employee amenities. Located on a remediated brownfield adjacent to the test track, the 210,000-sq-ft LEED Gold-certified facility consolidates previously dispersed functions to enhance efficiency and cohesion among product engineers and test technicians.

A similar level of collaboration was critical for the project team to deliver this advanced facility within a compressed two-year schedule. Value engineering combined with advanced modeling technology kept the DDL on budget while optimizing a two-phase building program to fit the limited site footprint and to accommodate future expansion. Provided only minimal design criteria for a future vehicle driving simulator with unknown utility requirements, the project team incorporated a “white box” into the infrastructure plan with the necessary flexibility to support all system requirements.

An early construction challenge required careful integration of a 1-million-lb concrete inertia base with the structural mat foundation. Supported at 20 locations by a high-pressure air-mount isolation system, the base was formed and poured to tight dimensional tolerances to allow placement of precision vehicle dynamometer testing equipment.

Adaptable construction sequencing also proved essential to integrate multiple special elements of a freestanding acoustic panel structure for environmental temperature testing and to integrate last-minute design changes such as adding a 3-hour firewall separating the first and second phases and a city-requested drainage system alteration.

Despite these and other complex requirements, the DDL was completed on time and on budget.

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