If you’re not a fan of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, then LaGuardia Airport really has nothing to offer you. Besides travel-friendly food options like “jalapeño and cheese pretzel dogs" the aging, dirty, sometimes-leaking airport is by all accounts a disaster. Just ask Vice President Joe Biden who once said that if he blindfolded someone and took them to LaGuardia they would think they were in “some third world country.” The Vice President adding, "I'm not joking." A few months after the Veep made that non-joke, he appeared alongside New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to announce design competitions to revamp LaGuardia and JFK, as well as the smaller Republic Airport on Long Island and Stewart Airport in the Hudson Valley. Those competitions will be launched in 30 days and last for 60 days; three finalists will be awarded $500,000. The New York Observer reported that the governor wants to see better retail and restaurant options at the airports (move over Auntie Anne's!), a Long Island Railroad link and ferry connection to LaGuardia, faster rail connections to JFK, and tax-free zones around Republic and Stewart airports. At LaGuardia, at least, the results could possibly look like the totally non-official rendering above. How would any of these changes be funded? That’s a question the governor did not address at the event. According to the Observer, "[Cuomo] did not tell reporters how the cash-strapped state, Port Authority or Metropolitan Transportation Authority would pay for these upgrades, but told reporters all options ‘were on the table,’ including new tolls on bridges.'” Cuomo later told the New York Times that designs had to be selected before financing could be secured, and he deflected criticism that his competition would get in the way of the Port Authority's multi-billion-dollar plan to overhaul LaGuardia's main terminal. There's no word yet on who will oversee that project, or what it will entail, but the Port Authority's very announcement of its plans earlier this year led to the exciting, but entirely unsolicited, completely non-official rendering at top.
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A new international airport for Mexico City won't just fix the problems of its predecessor—which typically delays planes because the two runways were built too close together—it will be unique in its efficient expansive single enclosure, according to its architects, Foster + Partners and FR-EE. Foster and FR-EE were announced as the winners of a design competition last Tuesday, in which all the finalists had worked with local design talent. Mexico City-based FR-EE's founder Fernando Romero is married to Soumaya Slim, a daughter of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim. The new airport, which aims to become the busiest in Latin America, has received a $9.17 billion pledge, partly in public land from President Enrique Peña Nieto. The government will finance its early construction, issuing bonds for later stages of development. Officials estimate Mexico will receive $19.6 billion in additional tourism revenue through 2040 as a result of the new airport. It will accommodate more than 100 million annual passengers. At more than 6 million square feet, the new airport will be one of the world's largest. It's also labeling itself the most sustainable. While still a complex committed to promoting air travel, a substantial contributor to global emissions of carbon dioxide, its layout is intended to be entirely walkable and won't need heating or air conditioning for most of the year. Foster + Partner's website said the project will be LEED Platinum:
The entire building is serviced from beneath, freeing the roof of ducts and pipes and revealing the environmental skin. This hardworking structure harnesses the power of the sun, collects rainwater, provides shading, directs daylight and enables views—all while achieving a high performance envelope that meets high thermal and acoustic standards.Organized around a single massive enclosure, the airport weaves cavernous, naturally ventilated spaces around an organic "X" shape that appears in plan like a cross section of DNA. The lightweight, pre-fab structure will open its first three runways by 2020. Another three runways, set to open by 2050, will quadruple the airport's current capacity. Mexico City's current airport, Benito Juárez International, will eventually be closed and rehabbed into a commercial development and public park. The design competition that preceded this week's unveiling drew high-profile names, including Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, and Pascall+Watson. Mexican-American architect and partner at JAHN, Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, also submitted a design to the competition, but was ultimately unsuccessful. He teamed up with local designers Francisco Lopez-Guerra of LOGUER and Alonso de Garay of ADG for the airport, whose form evokes both flight and traditional Mexican art. A pyramidal arrangement of structural white "umbrellas" transmit light while shielding occupants from the hot Mexican sun.
At long last, it appears Los Angeles is getting its train to the airport. Last week, the board of LA County's transit agency, METRO, agreed to proceed with a $200-million light-rail station, part of the new Crenshaw Line, connecting to a proposed people mover that will usher passengers to their terminals. The new station would be located about a mile and a half east of LAX's central terminal area, and about a half mile north of the Crenshaw Line's Aviation/ Century Stop, at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard. As AN previously reported, plans for a rail connection to the airport have been on the boards for some time, but the move is one of the final pieces in the LAX transit puzzle. Metro had also been investigating, among other options, a light rail line direct to LAX and people mover locations at other sites. The station—which at this point is only considered Metro's "Locally Preferred Alternative," or simply "Alternative A2"—will need to go through environmental review and other analysis before construction can begin. Furthermore, METRO is waiting for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to finalize its people mover plans before finalizing the 96th street location. That decision should come by December, said METRO spokesperson Rick Jager. LAWA is considering an intermodal transit center and a centralized car rental facility as hubs on the people mover route. No designer or architect has been chosen yet for the new station, added Jager. A preliminary sketch given to the METRO board depicts a multi-level, glass enclosed space with a direct connection to buses. But that image, said Jager, was "a penciled quick draw that was done the night before. It was to give the board a quick glimpse of what type of a station it could possibly be, but it was in no way shape or form the final draw." The current contractor for the Crenshaw line is Walsh-Shea Corridor Constructors, which consists of Walsh, Shea, HNTB, Comstock, and ARUP. There is a chance that team could wind up designing the station, but that remains to be seen. If work proceeds as planned the new station could be completed by 2022. Meanwhile LAX, long derided as outdated, is about to undergo renovations to terminals 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8, accompanying new roadside improvements and a major addition to Tom Bradley International Terminal by Fentress Architects.
It’s a battle of the starchitects in Mexico City—and the Brits are leading the pack. Out of the seven finalists short-listed to design an expansion for the capital city's airport, Benito Juarez International, four hail from the UK: Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, and Pascall+Watson. They are joined in the final round by Teodoro González de León with Taller de Arquitectura X, SOM, and Gensler. All of these teams are being led by Mexican practices, and construction could begin later this year. The multi-billion dollar expansion should accommodate 40 million annual passengers at over 70 new gates. The airport's current cheese-grater-like facade in Terminal 2 was completed by Serrano Arquitectos in 2008. The envelope's many circular windows are used to maximize natural daylight within the terminal year round. [Via Architects' Journal]
An impressive new installation at JFK’s Terminal 4 should make air travel slightly less frustrating, or at least more interesting, for passengers. In late February, Bulgarian-born artist Dimitar Lukanov unveiled Outside Time, a soaring sculpture made of steel and aluminum tubes. Despite weighing-in at 4,600 pounds, the piece manages to appear weightless as it elegantly drifts upwards like a densely-packed school of fish. The work is even more impressive knowing that Lukanov created his flowing work—90 percent of which is airborne—without digitally rendering it. He scaled the work by eye over an eight-month period. “Outside Time is a veritable drawing in space, a breathless, effortless, instantaneous gesture in the air. The piece aspires to halt, even momentarily, the relentlessness of time, to indeed be ‘Outside Time,’” said Lukanov in a statement. “The end result of my sculpture is an abbreviated script of matter dissolved within the air.” This installation is the latest in a series of improvements to the terminal. But despite new amenities like Wifi, Blue Smoke barbeque, and a Shake Shack, JFK Terminal 4’s Yelp rating is still a paltry 2.5 stars. Perhaps Outside Time will boost that number, but if Shake Shack didn’t do the trick, don’t count on it.
Are you afraid of taking Rover with you on your next flight because he might have to go potty in the airport? Well, pet-packing passengers flying through San Diego’s Lindbergh Field can rest easy. The airport’s recent $1 billion “Green Build” Terminal 2 expansion includes the nation’s first and only “pet relief” comfort station. Located between gates 46 and 47, the 75-square-foot rest room is decked out with features to get your four-legged friend in the mood to go, including ersatz grass and a fire hydrant. This may be the first, but it won’t be the last. Tom Rossbach, director of aviation architecture at HNTB, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the firm is offering the amenity to its other airport clients.
LAX finally opened its shiny new Tom Bradley terminal, designed by Fentress Architects, to quite a hullabaloo in July. The throngs who showed up for “Appreciation Days” got to enjoy shopping, music, and even free LAX keychains and knickknacks. But one of the most prominent elements was missing: the public art. Major pieces by Ball-Nogues, Pae White, and Mark Bradford were all delayed for what one participant called “a lack of sophistication on LAX’s part” in shepherding such work through. In other words, the officials didn’t get how to pull this kind of thing off. Well never fear, despite the bumps, contract disputes, and many miscues, the installations will begin opening in late September and continue through the end of the year. Better late than never.
The TWA terminal at JFK airport in New York may soon change prevailing opinions that sleeping at the airport is strictly a last-resort decision. Reports have recently circulated that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has named André Balazs—the hotelier behind the Standard hotels in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles—to develop the iconic TWA terminal in Jamaica, Queens. According to an exclusive interview with the New York Post, the terminal will be transformed into a hotel and conference center with a spa and fitness center, retail space, eateries, and a flight museum. The facility will be called The Standard, Flight Center. Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye told the Post in a statement, "The Port Authority is committed to preserving the essence of [Saarinen’s] iconic design and to continuing to work with [Balazs Properties] on a plan to transform the historic TWA Flight Center into a one-of-a-kind hotel and conference center in the heart of JFK’s central terminal area." Andre Balasz Properties could not be reached for comment. Eero Saarinen designed the terminal in 1956 that then opened in 1962, though flight operations were suspended in 2001. Four years later, JetBlue began construction of a new terminal that encircled the original building and has been open since 2008. Saarinen’s terminal has since remained vacant, with the exception of a handful of rare and exclusive events.
With terminals at Washington D.C.'s Ronald Reagan International Airport and the Tokyo Haneda Airport under his belt (among several other transportation hubs), Cesar Pelli is no stranger to the challenges of designing airports. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the Argentinian-born architect, who assisted Earo Saarinen on the iconic TWA terminal early in his career, will now collaborate with two New Orleans–based firms, Manning Architects and Hewitt Washington Architects, to redesign the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to coincide with the city's 300th anniversary in 2018. The roughly $650 million project will involve demolishing old parts of the current terminal and adding a three-concourse, thirty-gate terminal on a 42-acre sit on the north side of the airport. In addition, the proposal calls for a $17 million hotel, new power station, highway ramp, and 3,000-space parking garage. Pelli explained his approach to designing airports in an interview with the Washington Post in 1997: "I like airport terminals that have lots of natural light, that are spacious, that make you feel comfortable, where being there is a pleasant thing," he said. "It is also important that directions be easy to follow. Unfortunately, most airports have been designed primarily for the convenience of the airlines. People are just an inconvenience."
The other day, AN revealed details of Fentress Architects' new Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, with its arched, light-infused spaces and fancy new retail offerings. Variety takes a closer look at LA- and Montreal-based media company Moment Factory's contribution: a series of interactive displays, including an 80-foot LED “Welcome Wall” that greets visitors, two “Concourse Portals” consisting of 10 video columns that respond to movement, and the 72-foot "Time Tower," a four-sided LED experience surrounding the terminal’s main elevator. The system, which can be updated and adapted, is the most sophisticated of any in the country. And the production, as you can see from the video above, rivaled that of many motion pictures. In other airport news, we plan to head over to Long Beach to see the renovation of several of its airport concourses, part of a $140 modernization plan. We'll keep you posted.
Don't look now, but LAX—the airport everyone loves to hate—is starting to complete its major makeover. The biggest change is the brand new $1.9 billion (yes, billion) addition to the Tom Bradley International Terminal, designed by Fentress Architects and unveiled in 2008. Its curving roofline, emulating waves breaking on the nearby beach, pops up behind the original Tom Bradley structure, which itself was recently renovated (for the cost of $723 million) by Leo A Daly. Inside, the soaring new terminal is comprised of echoing arches and massive vaults forming a 110-foot-tall Great Hall, which beams natural light through large windows and clerestories. The terminal also includes 150,000 square feet of new retail and dining. The entire new facility, including large new concourses, security facilities, light wells, and more retail, measures 1.2 million square feet, which doubles the space of the existing Tom Bradley terminal. This is just the tip of the iceberg. LAX's overall Capital Improvements Program budget is—wait for it—$4.1 billion, including a new Central Utility Plant, additional terminal renovations, and restoration of the Theme Building. Perhaps the most noticeable change just opened last night: AECOM's new roadway enhancements, including new LED light ribbons above roadways, sculptural, Y-shaped light poles, and fancy new metallic canopies outside of Tom Bradley. Watch for more details in the next West Coast issue of The Architect's Newspaper.
OMA announced on Friday that it will design a master plan for Airport City, an ambitious 3.9-square-mile project that will link the new Hamad International Airport with Doha, Qatar. Recalling the ideas put forth last year by John D. Kasarda and Greg Lindsay in Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next, OMA’s enterprising piece of urbanism will incorporate four distinct districts along a green axis of public spaces parallel to the airport’s runways to create a functionally differentiated but continuous urban system. Residential, business, aviation, and logistics districts will be tied together in a new type of 21st century transit oriented development. Rem Koolhaas commented in a statement, “We are delighted and honored to participate in the exciting growth of Doha, in a project that is perhaps the first serious effort anywhere in the world to interface between an international airport and the city it serves.” While it will take at least 30 years to complete the project, the first phase should be ready for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.