Don't Overlook These 6 Design Choices for the Ford Field Renovation

So you’ve watched our Ford Field video series. What did you think of that custom suite island? And how about that herringbone drop ceiling? Wait, did you miss that?


As part of the $100 million, ROSSETTI-designed renovation of Ford Field, there are now revamped suites, new suites, repurposed clubs, new mid-tier products, reconfigured experiences, and new social destinations. The big-ticket items are obvious.

But don't overlook the little things within those grand spaces. The materials, equipment, furniture, and imagination, the seemingly insignificant details, are the fuel that makes this engine run.

When I visited Ford Field to take a look at the re-imagined experiences in Detroit, I had high expectations. After all, the project won an ALSD Spotlight award in 2017.

And those expectations were most certainly met. But do you know what has stayed with me through post-production of all this Ford Field content? Not the headline grabbers.

But the little stuff. The smart details. The under-the-radar minutiae that stands out to those of us who are nerds for design and storytelling. And me being one of those nerds, I want to share my top-six takeaways. The finer things you may have missed while watching our video series illustrating the $100 million renovation at Ford Field.

1) Flooring:

The first place to begin any floor-to-ceiling renovation is well, the floors. There are two locations within the stadium that you need to check out the flooring.

The first is the overhauled 20’s Suites, where the engrained wood flooring represents the Ford Family’s automobile factories of a nostalgic era.

“This was a way to bring that history into the suite itself,” says Kirk Phillips, Design Lead from ROSSETTI for the Ford Field project.

The second location is on the lower south concourse, where a unique epoxy was applied to the existing concrete to give the perception of depth to the flooring.

“[The walnut tables demonstrate] the craftsmanship of the city of Detroit and what we herald as craftsmen of the modern century.”

– Kirk Phillips, ROSSETTI

2) Detroit-Centric Elements:

Perhaps the signature of the entire project, Detroit and Lions themes are now expressed throughout Ford Field in layers of artwork, textures, equipment, and unique materials.

“ROSSETTI, in partnership with us, did a tremendous job to make sure that every square foot of this building, both our premium and our non-premium spaces, feel Lions-centric and Detroit-centric,” says Jared Kozinn, Senior Director of Business Development and Premium Seating for the Lions.

These elements are everywhere, from graffiti art in common areas, to the suite corridors lined with mesh, mimicking the containers that hold the tools that make Detroit, to inside the 20’s Suites, where walnut tables with exposed steel anchor the space.

“[These tables demonstrate] the craftsmanship of the city of Detroit and what we herald as craftsmen of the modern century,” Phillips says.

3) Gridiron Club Entryway:

What looks like glass with some unique treatment is not what you think. Instead, it’s a woven metal mesh.

“There are so many times where you see glass, and it gets dirty,” Kozinn says. “If you put lights up against [the mesh], it looks really good. And it’s very low maintenance.”

“Even with glass, you feel separated,” adds Jim Renne, Sports Principal at ROSSETTI. “There’s sort of a mystique about [the mesh].”

The material choice aligned with the design team’s “gridiron” concept for the club space that embraces the sport of football and the new food and beverage opportunities at Ford Field.

“The term ‘gridiron’ is derived from the metal grid or mesh that was placed over a fire for cooking, in addition to what sports fans use to refer to the field of play for football,” says Phillips.

“There are so many times where you see glass, and it gets dirty. If you put lights up against [the mesh], it looks really good. And it’s very low maintenance.”

– Jared Kozinn, Detroit Lions

4) Furniture in the Suite Corridors:

New furniture pods were installed, designed to be comfortable. But not too comfortable.

“We wanted to pick furniture pieces that were comfortable for somebody to step out and have a side conversation,” says Kozinn. “But our clients are spending a good amount of money to captivate their clients. We didn’t want this to become a space where everybody hung out non-stop.”

“[The Lions] didn’t want to make it too comfortable for [guests] to sit out here,” Phillips says. “So they’re just little resting pods.”

5) Custom Suite Islands:

It would be an injustice for me to try to describe this furniture in words. I encourage those of you reading this article to go to 4:28 of the illustrating video. Seeing is believing.

6) Drop Ceiling in the Miller Lite Taproom:

If we started with the floor, we have to finish with the ceiling, specifically the drop ceiling in the Miller Lite Taproom.

This element seems simple, but it’s anything but simple. Instead of a nondescript drop ceiling, the design team worked with the installers to lay out blades in a herringbone pattern.

“We thought that [unique pattern] really added an interesting feel to the space itself, and just brought that level of premium to another level,” says Phillips.

Attention to detail, creative design, going above and beyond – this drop ceiling underscores what the entire Ford Field renovation project was all about.


For more design best practices, join the ALSD at our 5th Annual Sports Venue Design & Build Forum, June 25-26, 2018.