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NEWS Last modified on August 13, 2018

Viewing park at Gerald R Ford International Airport proves popular

Gerald R Ford International Airport's renovated 'viewing park' where people can come and watch aircraft landing and taking off has quickly become one of the most popular attractions in the county.

Indeed, the Mathison I Mathison Architects (MMA) designed park is already a magnet for aviation enthusiats, families and photographers either living in or visiting the Michigan city of Grand Rapids.

Prior to the renovation, there was only a parking lot, picnic tables and a grassy strip. 
The renovated park has added an open-air viewing pavilion, restrooms, seating and additional vehicle and bus parking, as well as food truck accommodations. 

MMA also designed the tables and seating for the pavilion and park, which 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.

According to MMA, its modern design celebrates its powerful site and the wonder of aviation. 

It says: "The horizon line and concrete plaza are activated by the design of the two floating roof forms that respond to the trajectory of planes taking off.

"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."



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Joe Bates

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