McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University

Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center

Image of The Ford Motor Company Engineering Design CenterThe Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center opened in 2005 as the first Northwestern University building to achieve silver-level certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. Along with faculty and student offices, classroom space, and a prototyping facility, the building is home to the Segal Design Institute, the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the Walter P. Murphy Cooperative Engineering Program, the Master of Product Development Program, and the MMM Program.

The center provides students with a collaborative environment where the exchange of ideas and group work can flourish. Spaces available to students include a CAD/CAM lab, rapid prototyping and design prototyping workshops, a biomedical/chemical engineering lab, a mechatronics lab, design classrooms and study spaces with 3M Smart Boards, conference and research rooms, a large auditorium, an automobile testing section, project display areas, and a student lounge.

Interior image of the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center

Some of the design elements that make the six-story, 84,000-square-foot Ford Design Center a green building include:

Site Sustainability — measures taken to minimize the building's impact on the surrounding environment.

  • A light, reflective roof reduces the "heat island" effect of the building on the site.
  • A specially integrated retention basin captures rainfall to irrigate the Interior image of the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center
    historic Shakespeare Garden and returns excess run-off directly to ground water rather than the city sewer system.
  • Exterior lighting illuminates the ground and not the surrounding sky, reducing urban light pollution near Northwestern's historic Dearborn Observatory.

Water Efficiency — measures taken to reduce the use of water.

  • Highly efficient internal plumbing fixtures and landscape irrigation reduces water use.

Energy and Atmosphere Quality — measures to lower energy loss and improve air quality.

  • The FMCEDC construction process employed rigorous quality control to ensure that the insulation, heating, air conditioning and filtration systems are constructed and operate at the highest possible standards.

Materials and Resources — measures to maximize use of recyclable or renewable materials and minimize waste.

  • Interior image of the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design CenterThe building design provides for the effective collection, storage, and management of recyclable materials.
  • Wherever possible, the construction of the building employed materials with recyclable content – such as steel, glass, concrete with recycled "fly-ash" content, carpeting and ceiling tile materials.

Indoor Environmental Quality — measures to enhance the quality and safety of the interior environment of the building.

  • The building design provides natural daylight to over 75 percent of the building's interior spaces — a remarkable achievement considering that two of the six building floors are below grade.
  • An innovative raised floor system provides more precise temperature control at the individual occupant level, resulting in more efficient heating and cooling of interior spaces.
  • Composite woods, furniture, carpeting and other interior finishing materials use low volatile organic compound paints and glues.

Innovation in Design — measures to incorporate new or innovative systems or approaches to environment sustainability.

  • The building employs an automated solar tracking system that closes window shades in the face of direct sunlight and opens shades in areas away from the sun.
  • The building provides a unique, visible display so students can easily monitor building environmental conditions.

The architect for the building was Davis Brody Bond, and Turner Construction served as the general contractor. Distinctive architectural features include:

  • Visual prominence of design studios, fabrication and assembly areas
  • Visually interconnected floors; daylight throughout
  • "Smart" auditorium and meeting rooms
  • Connected to the Technological Institute by a bridge

Related Links

Undergraduate Study
at McCormick

Graduate Study
at McCormick

Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Global Vision

Giving to McCormick

Vision Statement

Faculty Directory


Contact Us

The Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
Northwestern University
2145 Sheridan Road
Evanston, Illinois 60208
Phone: 847-491-5220
Fax: 847-491-8539



McCormick School of Engineering Home | McCormick Chinese (中文网站) | Contact Us | Maps
Northwestern Home | Northwestern Calendar | Emergency Plan | Legal and Policy Statements
© 2014 Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Northwestern University