Gordie Howe International Bridge: An ambitious border crossing for Canada and the US

Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA)

Year Completed

2025 est.

Client

Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA)

Location

Windsor, ON

Size

53 Hectare

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Between Windsor and Detroit is the most ambitious border crossing in North America ― the Gordie Howe International Bridge (GHIB). By facilitating approximately 30% of Canada-U.S. trade at $105 billion, the border is one of the busiest crossing corridors between the two nations.

There are four existing crossing facilities in the area; however, each faces several points of contention with customs and traffic congestion capacity for commercial trucking. The GHIB is a key piece of infrastructure to alleviate these challenges and focuses on efficiency, security, and user experience.

In 2015, we were chosen by the Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) as the compliance architect to help deliver this public-private partnership (P3) ― the largest P3 of its kind in Canada. We were selected to provide the planning and architecture for the Canadian port of entry (POE), and help guide the aesthetics of the overall border crossing. Following the award of the project, we are overseeing the architecture, interior design and signage for the Canadian port of entry to project completion.

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Creating a border crossing unlike any other

Given the stressful nature of border crossings, the challenge was to design the project with consideration to the human experience, while balancing the strict safety and security requirements of all government agencies involved. The GHIB is the largest border crossing of its kind and has an extensive project team to manage its complexity. As a result, collaboration and communication were key to creating a cohesive border crossing experience.

CUSTOMER TESTIMONIAL

Thank you to the Kasian team for your heavy contributions to visual quality across the project. Your guidance continues to add value and ensures the goals of the Aesthetic Design Guidelines are met.

Bruce Campbell

Owner’s Engineer – Project Manager

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Responding to multiple stakeholders to create a welcoming and secure border crossing

Together with Parsons and Morrison Hershfield, envisioning the GHIB project required liaising with multiple stakeholder groups, including consultants, Canadian and U.S. government agencies, and the communities on both sides of the border. Together we developed an aesthetic strategy based around a theme of ‘calm welcome’. We approached the human-centric design from a place of empathy, security and safety.

PROJECT INSIGHT

The GHIB project is a prime example of what can be achieved when you champion design excellence through collaboration. We shared ideas, values and used our previous experience to improve cross-border travel for generations.

Sanja Djulepa

Principal

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Merging the forest and the auto industry

To create a timeless piece of infrastructure, the team took inspiration from the symbolism of both the native Carolinian Forest and the automotive industry that has been foundationally important to Windsor and Detroit. Natural material accents, such as wood and terracotta, were incorporated with aluminum, glass and concrete; meanwhile, neutral colours and natural light all contribute to a minimalist and contemporary design for the buildings.

The landscape design plays a pivotal role in the project and features native plant species in an overarching green belt on both sides of the crossing. To represent the dynamic cultures of the region, a public art consultant advised on the implementation of several iconic art pieces on the bridge and the Canadian point of entry.

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Solidifying Canada-U.S. relations

The Gordie Howe International Bridge has won numerous awards to date, including the 2021 Environmental, Social and Governance Performance of the Year award from P3 Bulletin. With the expectation that it will create 2,500 jobs through its planning, construction and implementation, the project has changed border crossings as we know them by facilitating more efficient trade between Canada and the U.S.

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