Detroit Midfield Terminal

Detroit Midfield Terminal

Photo credit: University of Michigan Virtual Reality Lab

During the past years, Northwest Airlines designed and built a spectacular, state-of-the-art terminal at Wayne County’s Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The project included the construction of a new international/domestic terminal (the ‘Midfield Terminal’) with 97 gates, airfield connections via aprons and taxiways, a large parking structure with 11,500 spaces, a multi-level system of access roads to the new terminal, and a power plant. This 1.2 billion dollar expansion opened on February 24, 2002. The terminal was named after Wayne County commissioner McNamara.

In cooperation with Northwest Airlines, the Virtual Reality Laboratory (VRL) at the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan developed a virtual model for the Detroit Midfield Terminal Project to assist in design evaluation and to support a complex decision making process.

During the design phase, a three-dimensional computer model was developed at the University of Michigan and continuously updated as the design progressed. Once the terminal was created digitally, functionality was added allowing Northwest Airlines to test line of sight for their proposed control towers, obstruction and planting strategies for nearby trees, as well as traffic patterns for visitors of the terminal.

Original Project Page: Detroit Midfield Terminal