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The future is now


Airport World takes a closer look at the opening of new facilities in Santiago, New York, Memphis, Geneva and Atlanta and get a glimpse of what’s to come with JFK’s Terminal One.

Uniquely Chilean surprise and delight

Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) opened its new Terminal 2 in January, 2022, the state-of-the-art complex being the largest new terminal to have been completed in Latin America in recent times.

Designed by global integrated design firm Stantec in partnership with local firm Amunategui Barreau Arquitectos, the huge project included adding a new pier to the original terminal, which now serves as a domestic terminal.

Santiago’s new Terminal 2 covers 175,000sqm and has an initial capacity of 30 million passengers per annum, although this can be increased to 38mppa through previously designed additions.

Stantec played a major role in the development of the airport. First as the architects of the original International Terminal in 2000 under the Consortium SCL Terminal Aéreo de Santiago, and more recently as the designers of the new terminal when Stantec and Amunategui Barreau Arquitectos were retained by the Chilean Ministry of Public Works’ Airport Concessions Division.

The new T2, which will serve international and regional flights, features a major central processor which serves as a focal point for people approaching the airport, and hosts four new piers, connected to the central processor for Arrivals through interstitial corridors.

A large retail/F&B concessions programme, VIP lounges, and an innovative advertising programme are said to elevate the passenger experience to one of the best in the region. The project has also increased the number of gates from 18 to 67, while adding two, four-level parking buildings and two surface parking lots.

A landscaped plaza connects the two terminals on the landside, affording open-air views to the main entrances of both buildings. And, according to Stantec, the T2 main hall has a vast and elegantly curved roof facing a park on one side and the approach roads on the other.

The flanking piers for the new gates were designed with wavy roofs inspired by the Chilean coastline, set against the Andes Mountains. The juxtaposition of contra-cyclical sine-curved roofs created openings that are filled with high windows, while maintaining a singular structural system throughout their entire length, says Stantec.

A bird’s eye view of the new terminal is designed to evokes the iconic sites of the Atacama Desert, with finishes and forms inspired by the different landscapes and colours of the country, while the interior design theme reflects the unique geography, iconic sites, and culture of Chile.

“As Santiago expands this busy airport hub, we are honoured to help transform the experience of travellers as they come through or stay in Chile,” said Cecilia Einarson, sector leader for airport terminals at Stantec.

“Together with our partners at Amunategui Barreau Arquitectos, we created a place that embraces the beauty and splendour of Chile while welcoming visitors and residents to the country.”

Memphis Belle

An expanded and revamped Concourse B opened at Memphis International Airport (MEM) on February 15 with passengers on an early morning Delta Air Lines flight being the first to pass through the Tennessee gateway’s sparkling new facility.

The airport has invested $245 million on modernising the spine and east leg of the concourse, allowing for the addition of wider corridors, moving walkways, larger boarding areas, higher ceilings and increased natural lighting as well as some much-needed seismic upgrades.

The multi-year project has also allowed for the consolidation of all airline, retail and F&B operations in Concourse B, giving them better exposure to passenger flows and increasing convenience levels for passengers.

The use of ‘smart glass’ in the windows that gently tint to reduce the light as the outside temperatures rise are designed to ensure comfortable heating levels throughout the day.

Speaking on February 15, Scott Brockman, president and CEO of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, said: “This is a huge day for us and the culmination of three years of construction and two-plus years of planning and design.

“The whole idea was to make it modern so when someone gets off the plane, they say Memphis is going places, and Memphis is cool.

“There’s a lot of local flair in the building, Memphis artists’ work. People are going to know they’ve been to Memphis.”

While Michael Keeney, chairman of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority Board of Commissioners, enthused: “We are truly reinventing the Memphis travel experience.”

The new and improved 23-gate facility is capable of accommodating around six million passengers, about 50% more traffic than MEM’s pre-pandemic levels.

This could rise to 11mppa in the future following a similar upgrade to the west leg of Concourse B, which currently has 15 gates and boasts the airport’s US Customs and Border Protection facility as it handles all international flights to Memphis.

Eric Peterson, president of Alliiance which partnered with Memphis-based UrbanArch on the modernisation of Concourse B, said: “This is truly a transformational project for Memphis International Airport, the community and region.

“The project embodies flexible planning approaches that will serve the airport well into the future and provides world-class amenities, convenience and state-of-the-art technology.”

Peterson, who leads Alliiance’s aviation practice, added: “Accessibility and equitable access were guiding principles throughout the design process and will provide the highest levels of accommodation for all users of the airport.”

LaGuardia becomes world’s first airport with dual airbridges

The opening of the second pedestrian skybridge at LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B means that the New York gateway has become the first airport in the world to have dual skybridges.

The 482ft long western skybridge is the final piece of the interior of the Terminal B facility to debut and is the last major construction milestone for developers LaGuardia Gateway Partners (LGP).

According to LGP – which comprises Vantage Airport Group, Skanska and Meridiam – the $5.1 billion Terminal B redevelopment is now over 90% complete and will reach substantial completion later this year, on time and on budget.

Connecting the western concourse to the Arrivals & Departures Hall, the western skybridge is said to offer travellers beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline.

Design of the dual skybridges, a concept envisioned by Vantage and brought to life by design and architecture partner HOK, was a critical element of the terminal’s redevelopment, as not only did the concept allow the original terminal to remain operational during construction of the bridges overtop, but when the taxiway underneath the western skybridge opens later this year, LaGuardia’s busy airfield will grow by a much needed two extra miles of taxiway space.

LGP CEO, Frank Scremin, enthused: “With the completion of this final major construction milestone, passengers travelling out of the western concourse now have a direct, seamless journey from the kerb to their gate.

“The new Terminal B is a shining example of a 21st Century airport facility focused on the passenger experience and what can be accomplished when we all work together.”

Later this year – after demolition of the remaining piece of the original terminal building – aircraft will taxi underneath the skybridge.

In addition, a restaurant complete with an outdoor terrace and Manhattan views is planned for the future. The eastern skybridge, which opened in June 2020, connects the Arrivals & Departures Hall directly to the eastern concourse gates.

Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, enthused: “From a passenger point of view, the old LaGuardia is no more. We have gone from worst to best, something no one thought was possible when this project began.

“Terminal B creates a top-of-the-line passenger experience and does so in the context of world-class architecture, inspiring public art and notable, iconic, locally inspired concessions.”

George Casey, chair and CEO of Vantage Airport Group, stated that it was an honour to help bring to life “one of the most innovative and complex airport redevelopment projects in the world”.

“The dual skybridge design illustrates the creative planning, design, and phasing that allowed Terminal B to remain fully operational throughout the entire redevelopment project,” said Casey.

The new 1.3 million-square-foot Terminal B is part of the comprehensive redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport. With a construction value of $4 billion, the Terminal B project is one of the largest public-private partnerships in America and the largest in US aviation history.

Geneva’s colourful, clever and cost efficient new addition

Those of us lucky enough to attend ACI Europe’s Annual Assembly, Congress & Exhibition last October got a sneak preview of Geneva Airport’s new 583 million East Wing, which officially opened to widebody long-haul traffic on December 14, 2021.

Designed by the RBI-T consortium comprising Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP), the Jacques Bugna architecture studio and the engineering offices of Ingérop and T-Ingénierie, the 520 metre long East Wing is arguably one of Europe’s most energy efficient airport buildings thanks to the implementation of a number of advanced technologies.

Indeed, good thermal insulation of the East Wing is achieved by the deployment of high-performance triple-glazed facades, with additional solar protection designed to limit the use of artificial lighting and reducing heating and cooling loads.

Electricity is produced by a solar installation composed of 7,020sqm of photovoltaic panels on the roof. A further significant reduction of the energy footprint of the building is ensured by the efficient thermal insulation of the building envelope, the recovery and use of rainwater and the use of high-efficiency heat pumps.

The latter produce and store the thermal energy of 110 geothermal piles that run to a depth of 300 metres and will be able to connect in future to the hydro-thermal network GeniLac, completing the panoply of renewable energy sources supplying the building.

Describing the new East Wing, Geneva Airport CEO, André Schneider, enthused: “Bold architecture, innovative design and cutting-edge technology are the key words that characterise this exceptional building and reflect our desire to offer passengers the best possible welcome.”

While RSHP’s senior design partner, Graham Stirk, said: “Its primary structure and low energy technologies are orchestrated and celebrated into one simple bold statement. Each engineering component is finely crafted not unlike that of a beautiful Swiss watch. These simple elemental components are given further emphasis by using a spectrum of colours that provide clarity as well as a festive and memorable experience for all travellers.”

New front door to ATL

Arguably the most eye-catching recent addition to the infrastructure at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) are two soaring steel canopies with translucent ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) fabric panels that have helped create a new ‘front door’ to the domestic terminal, and in the process become new icons for the city.

Visible from air and land, the twin structures each measure 864 feet by 200 feet and cover eight lanes of traffic at kerbside drop-off and pick-up areas, effectively protecting travellers, the roadway and the building facade from Atlanta’s ever-changing weather.

An added benefit is the fact that the inflated ETFE pillows create a thermal barrier that has reduced the solar heat gain by at least 50%.

Nightly programmable LED lighting displays have also helped the canopies become a symbol of Atlanta and a civic storytelling device. With more than 3,400 light fixtures embedded into each canopy, a mix of colours and patterns illuminate the twin structures at night.

“Hartsfield-Jackson’s canopies serve a number of purposes at the airport,” said ATL’s general manager, Balram Bheodari. “They have given new life to our domestic terminal entry points, provide safe and secure passage for our visitors and have become iconic additions to the city’s skyline.”

HOK developed a parametric modelling and optimisation tool called STREAM to accelerate the design process and inform the construction approach, which shaved weeks off the design process and led the integrated team to an innovative, ultra-efficient solution.

For example, cladding the canopies with ETFE instead of traditional glasing cut their weight by half. STREAM models shared with the team also enabled carefully orchestrated construction phasing that allowed the terminal to operate with minimal disruption.

The team also designed upgrades to the existing terminal to bring in more daylight. The precast concrete facade was re-skinned with metal panels, new storefront clerestories and glazing.

HOK acted as structural engineer on the project, which concluded in late 2021 with the opening of new pedestrian foot bridges to the domestic terminal.

Matt Breidenthal, HOK’s engineering principal in charge of the ATL project, said: “The airport is committed to providing the City of Atlanta and its passengers with a superior level of experience and service, while maintaining efficiency and minimising operational impacts.

“This modernisation is an excellent example of how that can be successfully achieved through smart planning and collaboration with the design and construction teams.”

Terminal velocity at New York JFK

Next up for John F Kennedy International Airport is a new $9.5 billion Terminal One after the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) reached a revised agreement with the consortium awarded the concession to build the new state-of-the-art complex.

Being funded and developed by The New Terminal One (NTO) consortium, the 2.4 million square foot terminal is expected to anchor the south side of New York JFK as the Port Authority continues its transformation of the gateway into what it describes as “a world-class airport worthy of New York and the region”.

When completed, the new Terminal One, which will ultimately have 23 gates, will be the largest international terminal at John F Kennedy International Airport wooand aspires to being among the top-rated airport terminals in the world.

“The time to get large infrastructure projects done is now, and I’m committed to getting JFK’s brand-new Terminal One underway and completed as soon as possible,” said New York governor, Kathy Hochul.

The full cost of the terminal will be privately financed by the NTO consortium which includes financial partners Carlyle, JLC Infrastructure, and Ullico. Reach Airports – a joint venture between Munich Airport International and CAG Holdings – is the operating and technical services partner to the consortium.

As part of the project, PANYNJ will undertake a number of infrastructure upgrades and improvements including roads, parking, and utilities including a new electrical substation.

The new Terminal One will be built on the sites of the current undersized and outdated Terminal 1, the aging and obsolete 59-year-old Terminal 2, and the site of the former Terminal 3, which was demolished in 2013.

Construction of the new terminal is scheduled to begin in mid-2022 and the first phase, including the new arrivals and departures hall and first set of new gates, is expected to open in 2026.

The design build team selected for the project is composed of AECOM Tishman and Gensler.

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