Detroit Metropolitan Airport Oasis Placemaking Strategy
Wayne County Airport Authority
Placemaking Design Improves Experience for Airport Visitors, Strengthens Relationships between Cities
OHM Advisors developed a placemaking vision plan and strategy for the Wayne County Airport Authority (WCAA) to fulfill its goal of establishing the City of Romulus-based Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) as an “oasis”—a defining place with a strong regional presence that provides DTW’s 35 million travelers per year a newly-imagined gateway to the metro Detroit area and improves the travel experience for both domestic and international visitors.
For this project, our landscape architecture and urban design team utilized the “Intersect” approach, which cross-checks community feedback data and stakeholder input against Business Case Evaluation (BCE) criteria. Using this approach, our team gained an intimate understanding of the airport’s functionality, operational constraints, facility needs, and potential for expansion. The process involved thorough data analysis, extensive firsthand user evaluation, consideration of feedback from local community members and artisans, and a deep dive into the aspirations of facility leaders, allowing our team to craft a placemaking strategy that is both feasible and visionary.
Our team designed a strategy including a set of catalyst projects to help spur incremental movement toward reaching the overall vision plan for the airport. It addresses the traditionally inhospitable airport landscape through a series of design intervention typologies, including iconic entry gateways, screening, color-coded signage, interstitial gardens, and large-scale landscape planting swatches with coordinating and cohesive material, color, and planting palettes. It also includes site furnishings, roadway treatments and signage, wayfinding and signage, an artistic water tower treatment and “floating” airport entrance sculpture, parking garage and terminal facade improvements, green roof and green wall treatments, enhancements to waiting areas within the terminals, a destination park and museum at the original terminal location, and a multi-use path that connects into the existing bike trail network.
The Oasis Placemaking Strategy strengthens the connection between DTW, the City of Romulus and the City of Detroit through an artistic overall design, community connectivity and individual pieces of expression that together leave a lasting impression on visitors, now and well into the future.
Project Highlights: airport, planning, urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, transportation planning