DTW: North Terminal Complex Redevelopment

Revitalizing Detroit Metro’s North Terminal: A Collaborative Approach to Modernizing

Constructed in stages between 1954 and 1974, the North Terminal at Detroit Metro required extensive rehabilitation and upgrading to meet contemporary uses. Wayne County Airport Authority (WCAA) executed a terminal planning and services agreement with Jacobsen|Daniels to produce the Program Criteria Document (PCD) to redevelop the North Terminal Complex.

The resulting PCD proposed a new single-loaded linear concourse for improved level of service to passengers, efficient and effective space for airlines to operate, and amenities equivalent to the quality and aesthetics of DTW’s new and highly regarded McNamara Terminal Complex. The planning process had the special challenges of keeping the existing terminal in operation throughout the construction, working within a limited budget, and adjusting to new 9/11 considerations after the planning had been underway.

Well familiar with the functional terminal planning components, J|D consultants provided critical insight into the relationship between the terminal, the airfield, and airspace that had constrained the available development area. To make sure the design program was based on airport and airline requirements, we managed the planning process by focusing the decision making by involving the competing stakeholders’ proposals and getting their input and buy-in on the functional requirements for the project. This collaborative approach saved time and money during the design process.

The PCD explained the rationale for selected and recommended concepts and defined the details of the project scope and parameters. The major design elements of the project balanced the terminal complex with current conditions and planning at the entire airport, accommodated post-9/11 criteria, and accommodated specific airline requests and key revisions to the scope as directed by the WCAA.


Project Details




Detroit, Michigan


  • Project Definition—scope, schedule, and budget
  • Consensus-building to resolve competing views
  • Identifying and understanding airfield/airspace constraints

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