Page N1.1 . 13 March 2002                     
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    New Hub, No Hubcaps

    by ArchitectureWeek

    The Edward H. McNamara Terminal in Detroit, Michigan opened to passengers on February 24th. This major new terminal, for Northwest Airlines' largest hub, is designed to reposition Wayne County's Detroit Metropolitan Airport as a world-class facility, with architecture demonstrating the latest in passenger amenities.

    Stepping into the McNamara Terminal, the traveler enters a spacious volume 36 feet (11 meters) high. Daylight enters through a 750-foot (230-meter) stretch of floor-to-ceiling glazing that runs length of the ticketing area. Overhead, an exposed king-post truss and framing system supports an arched roof across column-free spans of 87 feet (27 meters).

    The program specified a total of 97 gates for domestic and international flights, 106 ticket counters, and an international arrivals hall, all to serve approximately 30 million passengers a year.

    "The airport's innovative design gave us the opportunity to break new ground and offer customer amenities that set a new standard for airports," says Jim Greenwald, a vice-president at Northwest Airlines. These amenities include elegant but durable materials, an interior tram, and a fountain befitting a city square.

    Designed by the Detroit office of the architecture and engineering firm SmithGroup, the project diagram is driven in part by the terminal's tightly constrained site. Located between four existing runways, the site is long and narrow. In contrast with the parallel concourse configuration more common in major U.S. airports, the resulting building, necessarily linear, is a single pier nearly a mile (1.6 kilometers) long.   >>>

     

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    ArchWeek Image

    The new Edward H. McNamara Terminal for Northwest Airlines is nearly a mile long.
    Image: SmithGroup

    ArchWeek Image

    Entrance roadway.
    Photo: Doug Ashley

     

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