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Kansas City International Airport tones down design in new renderings

Architecture Midwest News Transportation
The new Kansas City International Airport features a flattened roof. (Courtesy Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate)
The new Kansas City International Airport features a flattened roof. (Courtesy Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate)

Progress on the $1.3-billion Kansas City International Airport (KCI) is moving along after delays and a brief developer kerfuffle in December that saw AECOM attempt to win the project back from the Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate/SOM team. After soliciting community feedback, the SOM-led design team has released another round of renderings and revealed a more subdued version of the curvy terminal buildings seen previously.

Aerial rendering of Kansas City International Airport

Aerial rendering of the old KCI proposal (Courtesy SOM)

Voters initially approved the $1 billion replacement of the aging KCI last November. The clover-shaped airport originally opened in 1972, and its three drive-up, horseshoe-shaped terminals were rendered difficult to navigate following the release of new airport security requirements the same year.

SOM’s H-shaped airport will consolidate all three terminals into a single building while keeping the curbside access that Missourians are used to. The original renderings, revealed after Edgemoor and SOM had secured the project, depicted a light, glassy building with a rippling roof and sail-like fins. In the updated designs, the roof has been smoothed out and flattened, a two-story fountain originally located in the departure and arrivals area has been removed, and a 4,500-square-foot lounge for frequent fliers has been added.

Rendering of Kansas City International Airport

Rendering of the new departure area (Courtesy Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate)

Rendering of Kansas City International Airport

Old interior rendering of the terminal’s departure area with nixed fountain (Courtesy SOM)

Instead of the indoor fountain in the check-in area, which SOM removed to speed up arrivals, an outdoor water feature has been proposed for the area in front of the parking garage. A centralized “cul-de-sac” with retail and dining options along with a round performance space has also been replaced with a more rectangular “town square,” which will feature local businesses and a teardrop-shaped performing area.

Rending of Kansas City International Airport

The new claim hall will consolidate luggage into a single stream for all airlines, but drops the curving roof. (Courtesy Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate)

The number of bathrooms will more than double, from the current 63 to 130, and SOM has used community feedback to design wide, accessible bathrooms for those traveling with baggage. Seven more community meetings have been scheduled for this September as Edgemoor continues to solicit stakeholder feedback.

Rendering of Kansas City International Airport

Rendering of the new gate lounge (Courtesy Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate)

Demolition of KCI’s Terminal A is currently on hold while the Federal Aviation Administration conducts its environmental assessment, which should be complete sometime in September or October. The airport has already pushed its opening back from November 2021 to fall 2022 as the number of gates has risen from 35 to 39­­—the KCI currently has 31 gates in operation. While no budget has officially been set yet, the cost estimate has risen from $1 billion to $1.3–$1.4 billion, with the airlines pledging to pay for any additional costs.

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