Those who attend next week’s dedication ceremony at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport will be among the very first to be greeted by the new Welcome Wall.
The ceremony will celebrate the culmination of a two-year, $118 million improvement project at the airport, and the wall was part of the massive work.
The Welcome Wall is centrally located on the façade of the new parking ramp that faces the airport’s terminal building.
“As you essentially step out the front door of the terminal building, you’d be directly across the drive lanes, and it’s on the face of the parking ramp,” said Bruce Schedlbauer, GFIA marketing and communications manager.
The wall is made up of 17 photos that represent the sights and activities that make up West Michigan. The collection includes sporting events performed here and iconic structures that mark the region, including urban and lakeshore landmarks.
“The intent was to represent the entire West Michigan region, as that is our service area — not just Grand Rapids, but all of West Michigan. And we really want it to be a ‘Welcome to West Michigan’ in kind of a photo format to those who are visiting here, coming here for business, or reside here and are returning home from a trip,” said Schedlbauer.
“It was intended to represent everything from the beauty and the recreation available over on the lakeshore to the various professional sports and professional arts available here in the region,” he added.
The idea for the wall came from the project’s architect, Nashville-based Gresham, Smith and Partners, and it has been a featured element of the improvement plan since work began in September 2007.
Schedlbauer said the airport took responsibility for filling the wall with photos and asked the Convention and Visitors Bureau to help with the selection. He said the CVB was chosen because its business is to market the region.
“We worked with them and reviewed their inventory of photos, and then we selected photos. I think it’s safe to say that the selection represents the region in a photo-mural format,” he said.
Tom Briehof manufactured the mural’s framing system and Agio Imaging created the large digital images that comprise the mural.
The airport’s brand new 4,900-space ramp opened for short- and-long-term parking last Wednesday. Dedication of the new intermodal transit station, also part of the work, was held last Tuesday. The most important ceremony, though, will take place next week Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.
“The official recognition, celebration and dedication of the entire project is scheduled for Dec. 1st,” said Schedlbauer.
The Christman Co. managed the construction project.