THE LEADER IN AIRPORT ARCHITECTURE
52 Million Square Feet, $16 Billion Designed by the Same Aviation Team
Fentress Architects is guided by the humanistic ideals that a building must work well for its users as well as speak of and to its culture and community. Given our humanistic mission, it is natural for Fentress Architects to excel in airport architecture where complex and often large-scale programs are driven by economic and civic objectives.
Over the past four decades, Fentress Architects has participated in the extraordinary transformation within the aviation industry. We are humbled to bring our experience, skill and knowledge to benefit communities around the world. We are inspired by cities and administrators who take risks to bring fresh, new, and necessary plans to fruition. We are passionate about the regions of the world where we have immersed ourselves in local culture and geography in order to create facilities that speak to and for their community.
– Thom Walsh, FAIA, Principal and Director of Airports
More than 490 million passengers make their way through airports designed by Fentress Architects every year. In doing so, they experience technological innovations and pragmatic solutions including:
- The roof at Denver International Airport’s (DEN) Passenger Terminal Complex is a simple, yet unprecedented, design solution that employs the relatively nascent technology of Teflon-coated fiberglass tensile-membrane roofing. The challenge with this technology was that the building’s mechanical infrastructure had to be relocated from the roof—where it is traditionally placed—to below grade. By relocating the equipment, the design team was able to create an iconic building for Denver, and reduce costs by eliminating the need for over 300 tons of steel and 200,000 linear feet of concrete shear wall.
- The first fully-integrated, multi-feature media environment in the world at Los Angeles International Airport’s (LAX) Bradley International Terminal, which comprises seven architecturally-scaled and integrated media features that enhance the departure and arrival experience. Content celebrates the joy and romance of travel and highlights Los Angeles as the premier global center for arts, technology, and creativity. Beyond establishing a sense of place and providing an unprecedented passenger experience, this system also creates a new source of non-airline revenue and is the first deployment of corporate sponsorships in a United States airport.
Award Winning Design
Fentress Architects’ aviation projects have garnered over 90 awards including:
- Denver International Airport, #1 in The Best of the Biggest US Airports, The Wall Street Journal 2018
- Terminal Redevelopment and Improvement Program at Charleston International Airport (CHS), American Architecture Award, Chicago Athenaeum 2018
- Incheon International Airport (ICN), Best Airport Worldwide, Airports Council 2006 – 2017
- Orlando International Airport’s (MCO) South Terminal C, American Architecture Award, Chicago Athenaeum 2017
- Raleigh-Durham International Airport Terminal 2, Award of Excellence, AIA Colorado 2016
- LAX Bradley International Terminal, International Architecture Award, Chicago Athenaeum 2016
- Renovation and Expansion of Terminal A at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), Excellence Award, Design Build Institute of America (National) 2011
Fentress Architects is an expert in every aspect of airport architecture with a breadth of experience that ranges from Seoul’s 5,935,000-square-foot (551,000-square meter) greenfield airport to the 60,000-square-foot (5,575-square-meter) replacement Air Traffic Control Tower at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
A myriad of drivers require airport operators to undertake capital projects. One such driver is servicing specific types of aircraft. For Denver’s Concourse A Expansion, Seattle International Airport’s (SEA) RJ Terminal Facility and MCO’s South Terminal C, we expanded regional jet operations. Similarly, Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, ICN and RDU’s Terminal 2 were all designed with the goal of accommodating super jumbo jets, which impacts every aspect of an airport from baggage handling to security queues, hold rooms, jet bridges, and FIS facilities. In fact, we take a prudent approach to all programming and planning efforts so, every space is designed to readily adapt as needs evolve.
Elevate the Passenger Experience
While the Terminal Redevelopment and Improvement Program at CHS, Central Terminal at Sacramento International Airport (SMF), and MCO’s South Terminal C are vastly different from one another in size and scope, all three are exceptional examples of airport spaces designed to elevate the passenger experience and improve customer service. In fact, these are near-universal drivers for all of our airport projects. Passengers desire a streamlined, expedited experience. They want their needs to be anticipated and solutions delivered at every stage of their journey. These solutions often include well-placed concessions and premium airline lounges, which offer the additional benefit of revenue generation to operators and airlines.
The main terminal at Denver [International Airport] is one of the few airports in the United States that confers a sense of lift, where natural light and appealing form combine to create a civic monumentality. Fentress… [has] managed to wrest out of the nearly impossible functional demands of the airport program a genuine piece of architecture.
– Paul Goldberger, contributing editor at Vanity Fair and former architecture critic for The New Yorker
Customers and employees alike value abundant daylighting, natural vegetation, and comfortable seating. In fact, much of what makes an airport lift the human spirit also enhances environmental sustainability. Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, the Air Traffic Control Tower at SFO and Alaska Airlines at LAX have all been certified LEED Gold by the US Green Building Council.
Increased Passenger Traffic – Phasing for Operations
With global passenger traffic increasing by an average of over six percent annually, another near-universal driver for capital projects is increased passenger loads up to and beyond capacity. While serving as an impetus for improvement, elevated passenger loads also complicate renovation and replacement projects. The renovation and expansion of Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, RDU’s Terminal 2 and the renovation and expansion of Terminal A at SJC involved especially complex and carefully-coordinated phasing schedules to reduce the impact to airlines and passengers during construction, and to maintain continuous operations.
In fact, Terminal A at SJC was only one element of Fentress Architects’ modernization of SJC, which also included Terminal B, a consolidated rental car garage, surface parking, and roadway improvements. Of note, at the time, this was the largest airport project in the United States delivered using the design-build method. Airport operators chose design-build as a means to reduce the project budget and schedule from $4.5 billion completed within 12 years to $1.3 billion within four years. Halfway through construction, Bill Sherry, then-director of SJC, explained the benefits were even better than expected; “ … the success of the program can be summed up this way: When we started the program, we were $150 million out of budget. We are now [mid-construction] tracking about $140 million under budget.”
Learn more about our aviation capabilities, contact:
Thomas J. Walsh AIA
Principal and Director of Airports
12 Selected projects
Denver International Airport
Mineta San Jose International Airport
Charleston International Airport
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
San Francisco International Airport Control Tower
Incheon International Airport
Bradley Terminal at LAX
Sacramento International Airport
Raleigh-Durham International Airport
Orlando International Airport