Our building's history

The Ford Foundation building was commissioned by Henry Ford II in the 1960s. The architectural firm of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates designed a soaring, inspiring space for the foundation’s headquarters: a radically transparent building of glass, granite, and Corten steel, occupying a near-perfect square that stretches the width of the block between 42nd and 43rd streets. The 12-story enclosed atrium garden, designed by Dan Kiley, was the first of its kind in the United States.

An architectural gem

When it opened in 1967, the building stood as a spectacular example of midcentury design, and an innovative urban space that captured the aspirations of the foundation’s social justice mission. New York Times architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable wrote that the Ford Foundation headquarters is “that rarity, a building aware of its world, as well as a work of art.” In 1997, New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission designated it an official landmark, affirming that the building has stood the test of time.

A hub for reflection and action

Beginning in 2015, in a project led by the architecture and design firm Gensler, our building underwent a renovation that preserved its original character while making it even more open, inclusive, and environmentally friendly. The renewed building, which opened in 2018, emphasizes sustainability, and exceeds accessibility standards. Driven by our mission to serve the individuals, institutions, and ideas that are broadening the frontiers of social change, we dedicated two full floors to holding meetings and events. Our historic atrium garden is open to the public, as is a new gallery focused on artists whose work engages with issues of justice, dignity, and fairness. Our workspaces are collaborative, open, and green.

As stewards of this important architectural landmark, we have taken great care to ensure that the building continues to reflect the remarkable vision of architect Kevin Roche.

Learn more

Read about the building renewal project from Darren Walker, and in the New York Times.