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."
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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.
It looks like things at long-maligned LAX are looking up. First AN reported that AECOM is working on a big makeover of the airport’s roadway spaces and that Fentress Architects is completing a new Tom Bradley Satellite Terminal. Now we’ve gotten our hands on a secret shortlist for LAX Terminal 4 Connector, the next component of the airport’s international spaces. And the finalists are… Corgan (with Turner) and Gensler (with Hensel Phelps). Now if only they could get the subway to go there, LAX might actually become a world-class airport!
Joseph Sitt, a frequent flyer and the founder of Thor Equities, has channeled his frustrations with New York City’s congested and out-of-date airports into a new venture called the Global Gateway Alliance. The advocacy group is dedicated to improving operations and service at Kennedy, La Guardia, and Newark Liberty International airports. Sitt hopes the group will be able to press the government and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to address the problems, such as the failing infrastructure, deteriorating terminals, and delays, that plague the three major metropolitan airports. Sitt, who will act as the Chairman, has jumpstarted the group with $1 million of his own money.
The days of airport as shopping and entertainment destination are in full swing. Construction of the new 40,000 square foot passenger concourse at the Long Beach Municipal Airport (LGB) will be finished next month. And this is no ordinary concourse. As part of a $140 million modernization project, the two-year renovation not only includes waiting and screening areas, but also two new terminals with 10,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space along with 4,200 square feet of outdoor patio seating containing fire pits, cabanas, and outdoor performance areas. Long Beach design firm Studio One Eleven is behind the concessions’ resort-like ambiance. Using natural materials and nautical influences, such as reclaimed wood veneers, coconut shell counters, and Carrera marble, the space emphasizes comfort and connection to the outdoors. Operable glass doors create a seamless patio-to-indoor pavilion. The adjacent food court is set up like an open market where guests can wander through self-serve islands of fresh food or try bites from Long Beach’s top restaurants. And when finished dining, passengers can shop among a slew of local favorites, leaving them wondering if this is an airport at all.
No one understood airports quite like Eero Saarinen. His swooping Dulles International Airport turned 50 over the weekend and its uplifting form is still inspiring today. Saarinen was quite proud of it, too, declaring the building "the best thing I have ever done." The control tower and main terminal building at Dulles opened on November 17, 1962, formally dedicated by President John F. Kennedy. The airport was named for Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. Also, if you're in Los Angeles, be sure to check out the A+D Architecture and Design Museum's exhibition on Saarinen, now up through January 3rd.
The airline industry was hit hard by the recession—2011 had fewer takeoffs than any year since 2002. Airports in cities like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Oakland are feeling the effects of that contraction, leaving one-time regional hubs and smaller airports with vacant and underused terminals. A report on airport building reuse commissioned last year by the Transportation Research Board found enplanements were down more than 60 percent in St. Louis over the last decade. Growing interest in regional rail transit could place further pressure on smaller airports to get creative with their extra space, especially as they face costly demolition bills and shrinking revenue.
A 56-foot-long aluminum sculpture leaps into Sacramento’s new airport.Whether they need a reminder that they’re late (for a very important gate!) or welcome a distraction from the hassle of modern travel, visitors to Sacramento’s International Airport will not miss Denver-based artist Lawrence Argent’s Leap sculpture. Completed last month in the new Corgan Associates-designed Terminal B, the 56-foot-long red rabbit is suspended mid-jump in the building’s three-story central atrium. An oversize “vortical suitcase” placed in the baggage claim below completes the piece. Argent worked with California-based Kreysler & Associates, a specialist in the design, engineering, and fabrication of large-scale sculptural and architectural objects, to build his vision while meeting the airport’s safety requirements. The team originally planned to build the sculpture with glass fiber composite, but fire codes would have required additional engineering studies to prove it was flame retardant. Additionally, the building was going to be largely enclosed by the time the sculpture was ready for installation, making it impossible to bring the sculpture, which is 14 feet wide and more than 16 feet high, into the building in one piece. Argent had designed the sculpture as a form composed of hundreds of flat triangles. “The piece lent itself to aluminum as long as we could figure out how to fabricate the pieces,” said Bill Kreysler, who founded the fabrication company in 1982. Working with Argent’s digital renderings, Kreysler’s team translated the design into Rhino, creating what he calls a semi-monocoque structure with a double-skin of thin aluminum on a thin-ribbed interior aluminum frame. The decorative surface is composed of 1,446 CNC-cut triangles with side dimensions ranging from 1 inch to 3 feet. Etched with a numbering system, the triangles were placed using laser-projected grid lines. “I think that one of the things that is often overlooked in this digital fabrication world is that there’s a sense that because computers are controlling the process, the human element is reduced, but in many ways it’s increased,” said Kreysler, who limited the number of people working on the piece to ensure consistency. The rabbit’s interior structure was assembled into 14 pieces of varying diameters in the shop, then transported to the airport for assembly. The exterior aluminum triangles are textured with crushed glass to create a velvet-matte surface and float 1½ inches above the interior shell with aluminum standoffs. Even in the light-filled atrium space the sculpture’s suspension system appears minimal. The concentrated loads coming from seven custom wire rope suspension cables with swage fittings are received by the rabbit’s internal steel armature. Aluminum transverse members then distribute these loads from the steel armature to the monocoque aluminum shell. Unveiled on October 6, the new $1.3 billion airport addition is the largest construction project in Sacramento’s history. The rabbit is the centerpiece of the 14 art installations—more than $6 million worth—commissioned by the city’s Metropolitan Arts Commission and planned for completion in the coming years.
Terminal 6 has been on Death’s Row at least since June 2010. So why are so many aflutter now? It’s an old adage but a persistent one: It hasn’t happened until the New York Times reports it, or until there’s a television tie-in as newsworthy as the cheesy jet set-orama, "Pan Am" on ABC. As NYT’s David Dunlap pointed out, the boarding gates are already rubble. More to the point, he describes structural innovations so sophisticated that they are invisible:
While many architects speak of creating transparent spaces, Mr. Pei actually achieved the effect through the complex engineering that underlies the seemingly straightforward structure. The main pavilion of Terminal 6 sits under a deep steel roof truss that rests on the spherical tips of 16 enormous cylindrical concrete columns. That eliminated the need for load-bearing walls, which allowed Mr. Pei to design a pioneering all-glass enclosure that is suspended from the roof truss. Even the supporting mullions between the main window bays are made of glass. One can look all the way through the terminal and out the other side. All sorts of subtle maneuvers make this transparency possible. For instance, rain is drained off the roof in channels that run through the spherical joints between the roof deck and the supporting columns, eliminating the need for any visible ductwork.In other words, no lovable wings on this hub. Instant image points helped get a last minute reprieve for that other threatened terminal, Saarinen’s TWA, while this one has the slight chill of a grainy B&W that appeals more to connoisseurs. The web-wide chorus of shock and disbelief that got twittering this morning is too late and too little to stop the destruction. Meanwhile Saarinen’s TWA may have been saved, technically, but its current state of limbo is way too far off the beaten path for eager travelers racing to get on security line, and it is far from secure. We keep asking Andre Balazs about his plans to turn it into that utter oxymoron—a hip airport hotel—but no plans have materialized, and he’s busy rescuing hotels that already exist in the East Village. Good luck, Terminal 6, and see you in the history books.
A small, twisting airport in Mestia, a medieval town in the Democratic Republic of Georgia manages to capture the essence of the UNESCO World Heritage Site's ancient stone defensive towers while still standing on its own as a skyward-reaching modern structure. Designed by German firm J. Mayer H. Architects, the airport is expected to boost tourism in the historic town and nearby ski resort. Amazingly, the structure was designed and built within three months between October and December 2010.