Decoding Design

US airport construction takes off

Posting in Architecture

What is pushing America's airports to renovate and build?

America's airports are falling apart and can no longer put off the repairs. In an article for the New York Times, Jad Mouawad reports on the national building boom of airports.

Across the country, renovation and expansion projects include entire concourses, terminals, concession areas, security lanes, boarding gates, parking, and entrances.

Investments in airports “are going to be among the largest public work projects going on around the country,” said Patrick Foye, the executive director for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns five airports, including Kennedy Airport, La Guardia Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport.

What is pushing the investments in renovation, repair, and construction? Larger airplanes, bigger security lanes, an increase in foreign carriers flying into the US, and domestic airline mergers all require bigger and better facilities. The influx of foreign travellers especially is a factor and improvements are concentrated at the largest international gateways like Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, and Los Angeles International Airport. Mouawad cites international surveys that routinely rank airports in the United States low in customer service, on-time departures, congestion, and amenities.

Better designed, better functioning facilities could sway passengers to choose certain airports over others, and consequently encourage airlines to invest in the improvements. Domestic airports hoping to attract more international travelers should look to the successful example of Amsterdam's ever improving Schiphol, with its digital nature lounges, designer hotel, and soon, a nearby golf course.

Airports Focus on the Ground [NYTimes]

Image: Robert S. Donovan

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Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure