Taking Off in a New Direction
The new Oakland County International Airport (OCIA) Terminal defies the conventional. First, there’s the futuristic-looking glass entryway. Then there’s the ceremonial “red carpet” that greets arriving passengers, plus a 1940s-era Pitt Special biplane hanging from the ceiling. And then there are the twirling wind turbines that bring it all to life.
Frank Rewold and Son Inc., Rochester, constructed the new terminal building to replace an obsolete, nearly 50-year-old facility at a bustling county airport that handles 120,000 takeoffs and landings annually. The new airport terminal serves as Oakland County’s “front door” to travelers from across the country.
Neumann/Smith Architecture’s design takes inspiration from the science, technology and art of flight. The main public space is a glass-enclosed, light-filled lobby. An iconic angular roof form soars overhead, evoking the imagery of flight as represented by a simple piece of paper folded into a delta-winged aerodynamic glider.
This “model airplane” is also a model of energy efficiency. The project team anticipates LEED Gold certification for this cutting-edge airport terminal and administration building that is expected to generate a 15 percent savings in energy costs. The geo-exchange (geothermal) field at the airport is a 30,000-square-foot horizontal system installed seven feet below ground. The system runs along nearly all of the green space directly east of the building.
Installed on the east lawn, three wind turbines by Windspire Energy harness the 11-mile-per-hour average winds on the site, producing 1.2 KW each or about 2,000 KWh/year. Three types of solar panels were installed: the standing seam metal roof over the main lobby has a Uni-Solar photovoltaic film applied to the southern exposure; BP Solar produced the 29 solar panels installed on the flat roof on the east side of the building; and a solar hot water panel by Solar Skies has been installed on the same roof area to provide heat for the domestic water system.
Rainwater from the roof will be recycled into rain gardens. The rain water collection and storage system will irrigate a unique, decorative vegetated wall in the lobby. This living wall of ferns, mosses, orchids, bromeliads, ficus vines and spider plants aids in air purification.
All the indoor and outdoor lighting is energy-efficient fluorescent or LED. Produced by Relume, the LED lights were installed along the boulevard and in the parking lot. Indoors, one of the main ways the terminal saves energy is through reduced lighting, supplemented by extensive use of glass in every area.
The project also conserved land and building materials by constructing the new building on the existing basement and foundation of the original terminal. The original building was demolished to the level of the existing first floor surface elevation; building waste materials were diverted from landfills and recycled whenever possible.
The project conserved precious financial resources, as well. Original plans called for major renovations to the existing facility. Frank Rewold and Son proposed cost-effective alternatives, methods and materials for consideration. The end result is a new energy-efficient building for approximately the same price.
The new landmark building provides more space on the first floor than the original terminal. Approximately 1,000 square feet of additional space accommodates airport operations, offices, conference facilities, customs offices, and arrival and departure space all on one level.
More space and less energy use is clearly the mark of a “green” building. Other sustainability features include electric car charging stations, mechanical systems designed for maximum energy and operating efficiency, and low-flow water fixtures. Local, recycled and reduced VOC materials were used in the building’s construction, as well. This innovative airport terminal clearly meets the county’s goal of creating a building to serve as a catalyst for further sustainable design projects in Oakland County.