Discover how an industrial brownfield became a flourishing ecological habitat and explore the rocky history of the land surrounding Ford’s Rouge Factory. The Living Laboratory Walking Tour—open seasonally, from May 1 - October 1 (weather permitting)—gives Ford Rouge Factory Tour visitors a chance to see sustainable design in action at the historic Ford Rouge Center. The tour follows a wood-chipped path along the storm water treatment ponds, through a crab apple and hawthorn orchard, and around to a viewing point that overlooks the bee hives and remainder of the Rouge complex. The return path takes you alongside the solar array and back to the Ford Rouge Factory Tour Visitor Center.
Launched in summer 2008, the Living Laboratory Tour is guided by presenters who share the background of the Rouge’s remarkable transformation from brownfield site to a revitalizing sustainable manufacturing setting. The sounds of red-winged black-birds and crickets singing amongst lush cattails can make you forget you’re in the middle of one of America’s largest factory complexes. In fact, those songbirds are now one of the measures of a successful plant for Ford. Economics, history, community, and the environment all come together in this evolving example of sustainable design and new land use.
Interpretive signage and educational materials along the tour help demonstrate how this unique naturalized area in an industrial setting is a laboratory for change. Sustainable design, storm water management, land use and redevelopment, new metrics for successful businesses, ecosystems and wildlife habitat, and how our past informs our future can all be discussed on a walk through this Living Laboratory. The tour is free with Ford Rouge Factory Tour admission. Please request educational materials, if desired, at the Visitor Center during your visit.