Gerald R. Ford International Airport has realized more than a 40% growth in the population of its service area over the past decade. Of significant importance to its long-range plan was an improved parking experience for airport visitors. The extreme weather conditions in western Michigan made it essential that patrons have access to safe, comfortable, convenient parking year-round.
Gresham Smith was initially brought onboard to develop a preliminary study and conceptual design for a long-range Terminal Area Redevelopment Program (TARP) of the landside property based on the projected growth for 2015. Following its completion, the airport again hired Gresham Smith to provide the final design for the TARP including a new parking structure.
The firm designed a new four-level, 4,900-space parking structure with all of the features necessary to provide a high level of customer service. Prominent elements include a helical entrance ramp with dynamic message signs to identify available parking spaces; a well-lit interior with extra height between parking levels to improve visibility; superior lighting and legibilityof wayfinding signage to facilitate vehicular circulation; and two enclosed pedestrian sky-bridges that connect to the existing terminal façade. Protection from snowfall and rain at the terminal curbside is provided by a grand roadway canopy, a major design feature that spans the existing terminal roof and the top level of the new parking structure.
The new parking structure has achieved the airport's goal of improving the parking experience for its customers by increasing safety, vehicular flow and overall comfort. Thomas P. Ecklund, P.E., Facilities Director, Gerald R. Ford International Airport, praised the structure as “an enhancement to the overall airport visitor experience” that specifically accounts for Michigan’s weather conditions. “The result,” he said, “is a beautiful structure which we hope our community is proud of.”