It’s been a long road for those involved in Kansas City’s mega-plan to upgrade its outdated international airport, but the process is moving along

In late 2017, a proposal by Skidmore, Owings & Merril (SOM), put together in collaboration with the Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate, was overwhelmingly approved by the local city council, but less than a month later, things seemed to have gone awry. AECOM and local firm Burns & McDonnell announced their counterproposal for the new Kansas City International Airport (KCI) project after their scheme had been previously passed over earlier in the year after officials became frustrated with Edgemoor’s lack of clarity over how they would fund what was seen by some as unnecessarily expensive design moves. 

Burns & McDonnell sued to overrule the developer’s selection, but its efforts were in vain and the only real consequence was a significant trim to the budget for the KCI project. Now, two years later, Edgemoor and SOM’s plans have been finalized and the design is a bit flatter than originally proposed. 

Rendering of flat-roof airport check-in structure, drop-off lane, and garage at the new Kansas City airport

The 1-million-square-foot structure will be H-shaped and feature a massive parking garage next door. (Courtesy SOM and Edgemoor Architecture & Real Estate)

Using feedback collected from local residents and stakeholders over the last year, the team revealed new renderings last week during a business session meeting with the Kansas City city council. The one-million-square-foot project is still scaled back as was previously unveiled last August, but the ideas are much more clear and include further details. 

Slated to be built on the site of KCI’s demolished Terminal A building, SOM’s single-terminal structure will combine the three existing terminals into one H-shaped design. It will feature a smooth, flat roof with skylights spanning the two-story check-in area, as well as narrow, clerestory windows in the public corridors. Floor-to-ceiling windows will light up the 39 gates within the terminal, also providing views of the surrounding airfield, with room for the building to expand to up to 50 gates.

Interior rendering of retail space and rest area with planters, seating, and fountain inside the Kansas City airport

SOM has integrated plenty of natural light into the design, as well as warm materials like wood and stone, and an indoor waterfall. (Courtesy SOM and Edgemoor Architecture & Real Estate)

The design team will use warm, natural materials such as native wood and stone on the ceilings and walls respectively, paying homage to Kansas City’s welcoming atmosphere, according to officials. An indoor fountain will be integrated into the retail and dining “cul-de-sac,” which includes a small bevy of planters and seating for relaxing on before a flight. An interactive display detailing the history of Kansas City and the airport will be set aside in a corridor as well. On the other side of the terminal’s entrance, a 6,300-spot parking garage will provide travelers with easier access to the main building. 

The revamped KCI is expected to open in four years ahead of the NFL Draft, which Kansas City is set to host in April 2023. The $1.5 billion project broke ground in March of this year. 

Related Stories