The building, a prescient example of civic architecture, sees the light after a two-year makeover.

Designed by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo, the heirs to Eero Saarinen’s practice, Ford reimagined corporate modernism in the mid-1960s. Offices wrapped around a soaring atrium garden. Light poured through a saw-tooth skylight and glass curtain walls fixed in place by grids of rusting Corten steel.


After half a century, the building remained a gem but needed an upgrade. City officials gave the foundation until 2019 to remove asbestos, fix the sprinklers and make the site wheelchair accessible. The foundation’s president, Darren Walker, saw the opportunity to nudge the headquarters, in other ways as well, into the 21st century.

And so Ford has now downsized its footprint, making room for other foundations. There’s a new public art gallery, a touch-and-feel garden in the atrium for the blind; and Mr. Walker converted his own office into a pair of conference rooms that can be used by outside nonprofits.

The building is rechristened the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice.