It’s official: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has been selected to design two, $1.4 billion satellite buildings at O’Hare International Airport to pair with Studio Gang’s plan for a new Terminal 2. As the runner up in the competition to secure the site’s new Global Terminal project, the veteran, Chicago-based firm will still be able to cement their vision within O’Hare’s upcoming mega-expansion with their connecting concourses spanning a total of 1.2 million square feet. Slated to break ground in 2022, the structures will be built west of Terminal 2 and link to it via underground tunnels. It’s not completely clear yet what SOM’s design will entail, since Chicago’s Department of Aviation, which announced the news this week, didn’t release any additional design renderings. It is expected, however, that SOM’s buildings will match the tone and palette chosen by Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners (the multi-pronged team led by Studio Gang) for the core concourse. This mean’s SOM’s original proposal, which was designed in tandem with Ross Barney Architects and Arup, and inspired by the airport’s original name, Orchard Field, likely won’t be fully realized. Despite this, the tall glass walls and nature-infused interior in the firm’s initial competition entry might still be integrated somehow into the light-filled and timber-clad architecture of Terminal 2. Jeane Gang said in a statement that all collaborating firms will work together to make a space that “captures the unique culture of Chicago.” Of the other three firms who were shortlisted in the competition, SOM’s appeared to be the most complimentary to Studio ORD’s design. While Terminal 2 is expected to be a rather dramatic piece of architecture with an airy, timber-clad interior, the satellite structures might be as well, albeit smaller and thinner. The proposals by the losing group of finalists, Santiago Calatrava, Foster + Partners, and Fentress Architects, shared these similar qualities but they didn’t the advantage of being a hometown studio. Expected to be complete by 2026, the transformational Global Terminal project is part of former mayor Rahm Emanual’s O’Hare 21 initiative, a push to modernize the 75-year-old O'Hare International Airport and upgrade its passenger experience and commercial offerings. By replacing the current Terminal 2 with the new $8.5 billion spaces by Studio ORD and SOM, the airport will nearly double in size from 5.5 million square feet to 8.9 million square feet.
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Ground has been broken on a $5 billion airport meant to connect Peru’s mountainous Machu Picchu more easily with the outside world, but conservationists are up in arms over the impact the facility will have on the fragile world heritage site. Machu Picchu is one of the most famous Incan archeological sites in the world but is currently strained past capacity with tourists. According to The Guardian, 1.5 million visited the fortress in 2017, twice the amount recommended by UNESCO. Currently, the site is only accessible through a single runway airport in the nearby city of Cusco, and to ameliorate crowding and provide easier access to the fragile mountaintop, land is already being cleared at the town of Chinchero—between Machu Picchu and Cusco—for a major international airport that would receive direct flights. Machu Picchu sits in the 37-mile-long Sacred Valley, once the heart of the ancient Incan empire, and activists are worried that the airport (and increased tourism) would despoil the miles of paths, terraces, and other vulnerable sites in the valley. Opponents of the airport claim that the environmental ramifications would be huge, and that runoff from the construction would pollute the nearby Lake Piuray, which provides nearly half of Cusco’s water supply. Additionally, the low-flying planes and influx of tourists may damage the sensitive archeological campus. Peruvian art historian Natalia Majluf has started a petition in opposition to the airport, that at the time of writing, has 48,000 signatures. In it, Majluf cites the potential damage to the area’s canals, ritual lines, and agricultural heritage, which is a direct continuation of the Incan traditions and knowledge that originated in the valley. Majluf is appealing directly to Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra to at least reconsider the airport’s location, but according to The Guardian, the government seems committed to the project. “This airport will be built as soon as possible because it’s very necessary for the city of Cusco,” Finance Minister Carlos Oliva said last month. “There’s a series of technical studies which support this airport’s construction.”
After the cancellation of Foster + Partners’ $13 billion NAICM (Nuevo Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México) via public referendum last October, the Mexican government opted to replace the scuttled Mexico City airport with a cheaper alternative. Come June, according to Mexico News Daily, ground will be broken on the $3.8 billion Felipe Ángeles Airport at Santa Lucía Air Force Base. The design is extremely sparse compared to the spiderlike central airport proposed before it, and the first phase will feature a terminal, two runways, control tour, and a 4,000-car capacity parking lot. The Felipe Ángeles Airport, rather than building on new land, will expand the Santa Lucía Air Force Base, and the project is being overseen and built by the military college of engineers. Brigadier General Ricardo Vallejo told Mexico New Daily that the airport should be open to travelers in June of 2021 and would accommodate up to 20 million passengers a year, growing to 80 million a year over the next five decades. A new 29-mile-long highway will also be built to connect the northern Felipe Ángeles Airport to the existing Mexico City Benito Juárez International Airport (MEX) at a cost of $528 million. The new airport is part of the Mexican government’s plan to split the traffic that the NAICM would have accommodated between two separate locations; currently MEX is operating at 50 percent over capacity. Additionally, the original Mexico City airport will gain a third, and possibly fourth, terminal to cope with the increased traffic. The NAICM was canceled after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador pledged in 2018 as part of his presidential campaign to hold a public referendum over the project. With 70 percent of the public in opposition, the travel hub was canceled. Although $5 billion had already been spent by that time, opposition to the project had been mounting on a number of fronts. The total cost of the airport, once demolition of Santa Lucía and the original MEX was factored in, was estimated at $31 billion. Additionally, NAICM was being built on the wetland plain of Texcoco and would have sunk by up to 16 inches a year. Because Texcoco is so low-lying, it would have also been inundated by stormwater runoff from the surrounding city.
Brought to you with support fromIn Israel's Negev Desert, a faceted mass has risen in the shroud of the Eilat Mountains. Designed by Amir Mann / Ami Shinar Architects and Planners, and Moshe Zur Architects, the Ramon International Airport is clad in large aluminum composite panels. Opened in January 2019, the principal terminal building of the airport measures nearly 500,000 square feet and replaces Eilat's preexisting airport located in the center of the city. While the tabula rasa-like setting of the desert allowed for a number of formal possibilities, the bareness of the surrounding landscape visually heightens subtle facade elements. The design team looked to the mushroom-like rock formations found in the adjacent Timna Park when shaping the building's mass, but the final form was driven by more than just aesthetics. The aluminum walls rise and double-over themselves as self-shading devices. "The slanting-out facades of the Terminal shade the building itself, while the cutting-edge aluminum panels, which insulate, help to reflect the UV rays through their pristine white coloring," said Amir Mann.
After six years, the first phase of Safdie Architects’ monumental Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore will open to the public on April 17. That not only includes an indoor “rain forest” with walking trails, but also the world’s largest indoor waterfall. The 1.4-million-square-foot doughnut-shaped building is a greenhouse ensconced within a steel diagrid frame engineered by BuroHappold. The five-story toroid stretches another five levels underground as well and is designed to connect the Changi Airport’s terminals 1, 2, and 3, and to public transit. Jewel was conceived of as an amenity hub for the airport and contains over 280 retail stores, galleries, and restaurants, a 130-room hotel, and operations space for the airport, including a lounge and check-in area. To mitigate the noise from the aircraft taking off around it, the triangular window sections were installed with a .6-inch-thick air gap between the two glass panes. Jewel's crowning feature is its seven-story indoor waterfall, the “Rain Vortex,” which dramatically pours down from a central oculus and into a circular catch below. The waterfall is, appropriately enough, fed by water collected during Singapore’s constant thunderstorms, and the recirculated rainwater diffuses throughout the Jewel to passively cool the interior. All of that humidity also helps maintain the thousands of plants, including 2,000 trees, found within. Other than the Forest Valley, which includes terraced vegetation and “forest walks” around the waterfall, the 150,000-square-foot Canopy Park on the fifth floor further enhances then garden feel. Glass bottomed bridges, topiary mazes, sky nets (suspended net paths), mirrored “discovery slides” that will open on June 10, and a gathering space for up to 1,000 guests can all be found on the Jewel’s top floor. Such an enormous undertaking was a collaborative effort, and Safdie led a multidisciplinary group of designers and engineers. Atelier Ten was responsible for the building’s climate control systems; Singapore’s RSP Architects Planners & Engineers was the project’s executive architect; the Berkeley, California-based Peter Walker and Partners was responsible for the landscape design and plant selection; and Los Angeles’s WET engineered the Rain Vortex and developed a 360-degree light and sound show to play against the waterfall at night.
According to a new environmental review document, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is poised for a large expansion that could add up to two new terminals and nearly two dozen new gates to help handle the influx of travelers headed to the city for the 2028 Olympic Games. Urbanize.LA reported that the plans call for attaching the new Concourse 0 terminal and its 11 passenger gates to the east of the existing Terminal 1 structure along the northern end of the LAX complex. A second new terminal, Terminal 9, will bring 12 new gates to the southern end of the airport, where it will be met by an extended run of a forthcoming automated people mover (APM) that is currently under construction. The Los Angeles Times reported that the expansion plans include reconfiguring existing airplane runways, including on the northern end of the airport, where earlier plans to retool runway facilities produced outcry from neighboring communities concerned about noise, pollution, and other negative impacts. The proposed runway changes involve reconfiguring the airport’s road network while maintaining the current distance from those communities. The plans come as Los Angeles World Airports, the entity that runs LAX, works to complete a $14 billion facilities upgrade plan for the airport’s existing roads, terminals, and associated transportation facilities. That plan includes a $1.6 billion Gensler and Corgan–designed terminal that will bring 12 new gates to a mid-field site capable of handling new “super-jumbo” airplanes for long-haul international flights. The project, known as the Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC) will connect to the existing and recently-expanded Tom Bradley International Terminal via a pair of underground tunnels that will feature moving sidewalks. Along with the APM, L.A.’s transit authority is also at work adding a new light rail station to the airport that will link LAX with the county’s regional transit network. The station is set to open in 2022 and will eventually make the airport accessible via two light rail transit routes, the Crenshaw and Green Lines. Those elements, in turn, will be joined by new consolidated parking, rideshare, and taxi facilities. The preliminary environmental document for the latest round of additions only provides a general timeline for completion that is subject to further review. The plan envisions the improvements being made by 2028.
Spanish firm luis vidal + architects (LVA) has partnered with Gensler and OJB Landscape Architecture to design an addition to the Pittsburgh International Airport in western Pennsylvania. Initial renderings released Wednesday of the $1.1 billion project showcase the new terminal set to open in 2023. According to the architects, the design combines nature, technology, and community (a philosophy branded by the airport as NaTeCo) as a nod to Pittsburgh’s location, its local residents, and their commitment to innovation. The design team studied the city’s landscape to come up with a vision that evokes its iconic rolling hills and the rivers that run through it. The new terminal, built between Concourses C and D, will feature an undulating roof, designed to bring pockets of light into the public spaces below. Warm timber and ample plantings will be used throughout the interior as a nod to the region’s natural surroundings. “The combination of nature, technology, and community form the DNA of the region,” said Luis Vidal, “and that should be reflected in the structure of the building to enhance the experience for all users and leave a memorable impression.” In an interview with the airport’s news service, Blue Sky PIT, Vidal noted his initial trips to the city helped him understand how these physical elements could be integrated to create an adaptable design for the 21st-century that was truly Pittsburgh-centric. “When you look at Pittsburgh, you can see it has a very strong heritage and that it has undergone a huge transformation to embrace a diversification of industries, including medicine, education, technology, and robotics,” he said. “Those elements of nature, technology, and community grabbed me during a number of visits and very quickly, I understood that it was the DNA of the region.” Vidal and Gensler’s concept centers around a new, 51-gate terminal that will include a modern check-in concourse, an expanded TSA checkpoint, as well as indoor and outdoor green plazas and gathering spaces. The design will help improve wayfinding and circulation from the departing and arrival zones, while also decreasing walking distances between those areas. HDR, an engineering consultancy based out of Omaha, Nebraska, will help plan for future technological advancements within the airport and seek room for new automated systems. Gensler’s Principal and Aviation Leader Ty Osbaugh said the first set of renderings are the result of a huge community engagement process, which will continue through the schematic design phase. “We have worked very hard, and will continue working to further refine this concept that draws on the best features of the region,” Osbaugh said. “This concept allows for a more modern, adaptable facility that will truly reflect and belong to Pittsburgh.” This isn’t the first major upgrade the Pittsburgh International Aiport has received. In 1992, a billion-dollar expansion by architect Tasso Katselas Associates received widespread praise, particularly for the addition of the airport’s then-new Airside Terminal. The large space featured an arched ceiling and ample room dedicated to a shopping district known as the Airmall. That design helped simplify aircraft movement and eased pedestrian traffic, later becoming a global model for efficient aviation architecture. The architects hope to build on the Airside Terminal’s legacy by building a modern structure that consolidates the airport’s landside and airside operations into one place. The project, with its sweeping design and light-filled interior, evokes Vidal’s award-winning 2014 design of Terminal 2 at London’s Heathrow Airport.
Although Pittsburgh unsuccessfully bid for Amazon HQ2 (perhaps more of a blessing than a curse), the city recently broke ground on an ambitious 195-acre development adjacent to the Pittsburgh International Airport dubbed the "Innovation Campus." While the proximity of the Innovation Campus to the airport and a spaghetti junction of interstate highways provides a wealth of logistical benefits, it is the site’s legal status that will likely draw tenants. Licensed by the World Trade Centers Association, facilities within the development will be able to import, manufacture, and export products with exemptions from international duties. This initial phase of the project, led by construction firm Cast and Baker, is largely preparation work to ready 16 sites for development by 2023. While the first of the campus’s buildings should be complete within the next few years, the total build-out will progress over the course of a decade. Relying on ground-leasing subject to FAA regulations, the Allegheny County Airport Authority intends to blend office space, research laboratories, manufacturing facilities, and warehouses across the site. According to the Allegheny County Airport Authority, the model for the Innovation Campus’s strategy and design is the Schiphol-Rijk, an industrial district located adjacent to Amsterdam’s principal international airport that houses operations for leading manufacturing and technology firms, including Intel, Yamaha, GE Wind Energy, to name but a few. Although Schipol-Rijk and its manufacturing bent serves as the overall model for the Innovation Campus, the proposal also seeks to harness the region’s great density of universities, including Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, to attract high-tech manufacturing. “This is a visionary plan for the continued growth of our airport and region that will create hundreds of jobs,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald at the groundbreaking ceremony. “The airport will collaborate and partner with local and state officials and universities to leverage research and the region’s highly-skilled workforce to identify anchor tenants." The construction of the Innovation Campus will follow the ongoing billion-dollar renovation of the Pittsburgh International Airport expected to be completed in 2023.
Mexico City’s new Foster + Partners–designed airport has been canceled while already under construction. In a referendum today voters rejected the partially completed project that’s been beleaguered by accusations of corruption, ecological irresponsibility, and lack of community involvement. The referendum was originally proposed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the president-elect of Mexico, as popular opposition grew against the project that was approved by President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2014. Not only was the project, called NAICM (Nuevo Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México), deemed inordinately expensive at an estimated USD$13 billion, its location was less than ideal. The wetland plain of Texcoco outside the city that it was to be built on is quite literally sinking—as much as 16 inches a year. Not only does building the airport require thick supports, like much of Mexico City, which was built on former lakes dredged by the colonizing Spaniards five centuries ago, but it the area accommodates stormwater runoff for the city, requiring a complicated and expensive system of plumbing, tunnels, and canals to manage potential flooding. Furthering the environmental infeasibility is the impact it would have had on numerous bird species as well as its effect of exacerbating the decline of the city’s already dwindling water supplies. As Fernando Córdova, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico told Alto Nivel as later reported in translation in Citylab: “It’s just the worst terrain.” USD$5 billion has already been put into the airport, which was designed to handle the ever-increasing traffic through North America’s most populous city, which also serves as a travel hub for much of the rest of Mexico and Latin America. The mega-project, which would’ve been the third largest airport in the world and the most expansive in all of the Americas, was noteworthy for its six million square-foot main terminal designed in a sci-fi X-shape with a sweeping canopy. The no vote won by a large margin, with 70 percent voting in opposition of completing the project, though, as others have noted, voter turnout for the referendum was underwhelming, with only around 1 in 90 registered voters turning out to the polls. Those opposed argued that the project was being built and developed by contractors and other parties as a series of political favors to line each other’s pockets. Still, regardless of the fate of NAICM, Mexico City needs a new airport. The current main airport, Benito Juárez International, is operating 50 percent over capacity and the strain on it is only growing. López Obrador and others have supported a significantly cheaper project that uses existing infrastructure by converting part of the Santa Lucía air force base into a commercial terminal. As for the thwarted Foster + Projects design, it was reported in The Washington Post that López Obrador suggested turning the remains of the unfinished airport into “a big sports and ecological center for Mexico City.”
Twelve firms are in the running to design a massive expansion to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Last week, teams from Santiago Calatrava, SOM, Bjarke Ingels Group, and more submitted their qualifications ahead of the city’s Thursday deadline to secure a bid, according to The Chicago Tribune. The $8.7-billion addition, known at O’Hare 21, will replace Terminal 2 with a global terminal and concourse that will cater to domestic and international flights from United and American Airlines. Two additional satellite concourses will be built out during construction as well. The top two firms chosen after an extensive review process by the Department of Aviation will be awarded design contracts for the new global terminal and satellite concourses respectively. O’Hare 21 is the airport’s first major architectural undertaking in 25 years and will expand its total terminal area from 5.5 million to 8.9 million square feet. The chance to design a gateway project for an airport of this size is a huge win for any firm. Many of the studios that submitted proposals already have both large-scale and small-scale airport projects on their resume: Calatrava (Bilbao), Fentress Architects (Denver), Studio Fuksas (Shenzhen), and SOM (Mumbai, Singapore). O’Hare’s own Terminal 1 was designed in 1986 by Jahn, which has also entered the race. Other high-wattage firms are forming joint ventures with local architects to win the competition. Foster + Partners is working with JGMA and Epstein, while Rafael Viñoly Architects is teaming up with Goettsch Partners. Studio Gang has an even larger team under its belt that includes STL Architects and Solomon Cordwell Buenz. Global firms HOK and Gensler are also in the mix, running on their own. According to the Tribune, securing the architects to design the O’Hare expansion is a critical job Mayor Rahm Emanuel hopes to have done before leaving office in May. The city expects to finish the multi-phase project by 2026.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the president-elect of Mexico, recently announced that the fate of the new Mexico City airport designed by Foster + Partners will be decided by a public referendum to be held in October of this year. Mexican citizens will be able to decide in a vote whether or not the airport should be canceled. López Obrador, or AMLO as he is also known, led a fiery campaign for president. He trumpeted leftist and populists messages while attacking corruption that he said was endemic in the Mexican government. The New Mexico City International Airport (NAICM) was, he said, mismanaged and marked by excessive and wasteful spending, and he promised to shut down the project if elected. López Obrador has proposed that an existing military airbase be converted to civilian use instead of completing construction on the new airport. The vote is scheduled for the last week of October even though López Obrador will not formally take office until December 1 of this year. The project, which was won by Foster + Partners in 2014, is well under construction, and stopping it now would mean losing about US$5 billion already spent. The project is estimated to cost US$13 billion in total, and its first phase has been scheduled to open in 2020. Foster + Partners' design features a massive undulating canopy with an exposed space frame underneath. In renderings, the roof surface allows dappled light to come through large open spans between large footings where the canopy touches down to the ground. Arup is the project's structural engineer, Mexican firm fr-ee is the local collaborating architect, and Grupo de Diseno Urbano is the landscape architect. The airport is planned to handle 66 million passengers annually and cover an area of approximately eight million square feet.