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DEARBORN, Mich., Apr 18, 2017 – For more than 40 years, Fairlane Town Center Mall has served as a major retail hub in Dearborn, Michigan. It is one of the state’s largest malls – at one time housing more than 220 retailers including five major department stores, restaurants, even an ice rink. Only three major department stores now remain, and Fairlane’s biggest tenant is a global automaker.
Ford Motor Company has converted 240,000 square feet of unused mall space, formerly occupied by as many as 26 retailers, into its new Town Center Office. The redesign creates a modern office space focused on wellness, collaboration and sustainability for 1,800 Ford engineering and purchasing employees.
As technology redefines how consumers shop, malls are reinventing themselves to offer not just retail and dining experiences, but community gathering areas, entertainment venues and office centers. Rita Nelson, Fairlane Town Center general manager, says that in addition to retail, dining, entertainment and mixed-use opportunities, malls offer campus and office space solutions for nontraditional tenants.
“Retail has shifted so much over the years and Fairlane is no different,” said Nelson. “We have more than 125 stores and restaurants but like much of the industry, we have expanded to include other opportunities.”
Ford’s Town Center Office is helping to house larger operations to support the company’s 10-year Dearborn campus transformation, which will colocate 30,000 employees from 70 buildings into primarily two campus locations.
“As we began the 10-year process of constructing new technology labs and offices, we needed an innovative solution to situate larger teams close to our operations,” says Dave Dubensky, chairman and CEO, Ford Land. “The proximity and design of Fairlane Mall, along with its on-site amenities support our transformation in offering multiple conveniences for our employees. It is a win-win for us and the community.”
The new office complex is designed to promote more team collaboration and to keep employees physically energized, mentally stimulated, engaged and refreshed. Ample lounge space and cafés encourage movement, offering flexibility in terms of where employees choose to work each day. Wellness rooms, as well as reflection rooms for prayer and meditation encourage employees to take breaks to recharge. The space also features lactation rooms for nursing mothers.
Walk-up stations for working are included in the new footprint. Employees can access a treadmill desk and walk at a 2 mph pace while returning email, taking a call or working on other tasks. Designed around movement, the space promotes wellness by helping people feel healthier, more energized and accomplished while burning a few calories in the process.
Personal work areas are more open to encourage collaboration. Ergonomically designed workstations feature adjustable-height desks that offer a custom fit, along with the ability for employees to change posture throughout the day to promote energy and stimulation.
Materials have been carefully selected to foster employee wellness and sustainability. The new visitor lobby features an accent wall of reclaimed wood, while carpet made from recycled content is fully recyclable at the end of its lifecycle. Zero volatile organic compound paint is used throughout the space.
“I was both hesitant and excited about the move,” says Natalie Pohlman, a Ford College Graduate and supplier technical assistance site engineer who recently relocated to Ford’s new Town Center Office. “Since moving in, I’ve met a lot of new people. Having the team in one place, along with access to all of the collaboration space has made it easier to work together.”