Gerald R. Ford International Airport Viewing Park Expansion

The airport viewing park lies opposite the main runways from the main terminal building on open, exposed land, with broad views of the horizon, the runways, and the main terminal – perfect for viewing landings and take-offs.   Despite limited capacity (57 cars) and amenities (a lone portable toilet, deteriorating picnic tables, inadequate trash receptacles, and no shade), it is one of the most popular park destinations in the county. Demand for additional parking, permanent toilet facilities, upgraded picnic sites, and common sheltered area formed the functional core of this project.  Creating a renewed public place that welcomes, inspires, informs, and engages formed the aspirational core.

The double canopy roof forms invoke the feeling of ascending in an airplane.  The roof lines imagine the trajectory of flight with a simple structure that accents the powerful horizon, the site topography, and open sky above.  The wood-clad sloping roof planes create a sense of openness, enclosure, warmth and human-scale.

The renewed park doubles the parking capacity, including busses and food trucks. Permanent toilets and shelter structures share a central location on the expanded site.  All features are barrier-free, including new picnic tables, benches, and trash receptacles – custom designed and locally fabricated for this project.

Location:
Grand Rapids, MI

Architect of record:
Mathison | Mathison Architects

Team:
Tom Mathison
Evan Mathison
Ben Franceschi
Brent DeKryger
Kevin Swanson

Scope of work:
Expansion of existing view park, including shelter, restrooms, gathering plaza, auto parking, bus parking, and barrier-free parking.

Date completed:
2017

Size:
3,000 sq ft