Decorative facades with swooping curves, created by Cambridge Architectural using powder-coated mesh, are featured on new employee parking decks at the Ford Engineering & Research Center campus in Dearborn, MI. The two structures, Parking Decks
300 and 400, were completed in 2019 and accommodate 3,900 vehicles. They incorporate nearly 100,000 square feet of metal mesh and combined, represent the largest project in Cambridge’s manufacturing history.
Part of the phase one transformation (2016-2023) of the Ford Motor Company’s 80-year-old Dearborn campus, the decks are located across the street from each other. The goal was to eliminate surface lots resulting in space for the construction of
a new design center and central green areas.
Rich & Associates Parking Consultants turned to Cambridge to change earlier design concepts planned for Decks 300 and 400.
“From our standpoint, the Cambridge mesh system offered a relatively cost-effective option to achieve a major architectural impact that changed the garage’s design and look,” said Richard Kinnell, AIA, Vice President/ Architect, Rich
Associates. “Mesh is a simple way to dress up a pre-cast concrete parking structure with less complications and costs than other alternatives.”
Cambridge worked with designers to create a custom mesh pattern and used black and dark grey powder coating to form an angled curve on the raw T316 stainless steel that runs the length of the decks’ facades. For one side of Deck 300, an open notch
is incorporated into the metal as an architectural feature over the entrance/exit and stairwell areas.
“The powder-coating was the real key in transforming the mesh façade into a statement piece for Ford,” said David Zeitlin, Cambridge Architectural Business Director. “The variation in tones between the raw stainless, black and
grey creates the distinct airflow feature sought for the project without complicating the façade design or material.”
Eighty-three panels of mesh (69,840 square feet) were used for the two sides of Parking Deck 300, while 41 panels of mesh (29,292 square feet) cover one side of Parking Deck 400.
Using its Eyebolt Attachment System, Cambridge worked with project engineers to design structural supports to attach the mesh between the four deck levels to create a mounting surface that followed the façade curve.
Initially designed with Cambridge’s Mid Balance mesh pattern (50 percent open area), architects requested that the openness be increased to 55 percent to support adequate ventilation. Cambridge stretched the pattern and created Huron mesh for the
project, which is now a staple pattern for parking deck screening.
The mesh meets international building code requirements for openness, lineal length and area adopted by the state of Michigan. By meeting the standards, it also eliminated the need for mechanical ventilation, sprinklers and other requirements.
Zeitlin said the use of metal mesh made from recycled materials also reinforces sustainability goals for a greener, more eco-friendly campus. The mesh is virtually maintenance-free and has an indestructible life cycle despite the harsh Michigan winters
that can affect other building material choices.