HOK Designs Big Airport Infrastructure Project

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The world’s most traveled airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, is embarking on a $6 billion, 20-year expansion and modernization program. As part of the capital improvement program, HOK is leading the joint venture team designing a $200 million improvement to the airport’s domestic passenger terminal. Construction will begin later in 2016 and include the addition of two large canopies over curbside pick-up and drop-off areas and a redesigned central atrium space.

In 2015, the 207-gate Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport became the world’s first airport to handle more than 100 million passengers in a year, reaching a high of 101.5 million. The design of the terminal modernization will improve the passenger experience as the airport prepares to serve even more travelers in the coming decades.

“The airport’s vision is to demystify traveling through the airport and create an exceptional experience for all its guests,” said Ripley Rasmus, AIA, an HOK senior design principal and lead designer for the project. “The flexibility of our team’s design accommodates both the focused, curb-to-gate weekly business travelers and the more leisurely, casual visitors who may stop to patronize retailers and other airport amenities.”

The passenger terminal improvements begin with the creation of a curbside drop-off protected by arched canopies composed of translucent ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) panels supported by a contemporary steel frame. The 864-foot-long canopies are designed to redefine the character of the building as a 21st-century air terminal. Additionally, the canopies provide shading to reduce heat gain and shelter travelers from the elements. New building facades will feature fritted glass panels that depict the forested character of Atlanta’s regional landscape with images of its city parks.

Inside, expansive windows flood check-in areas with natural light. The design of the 15,000-square-foot atrium presents a lush, park-like setting brightened by a circular skylight where passengers will enjoy increased seating options with easy access to power and data connections. A pavilion backdrop will serve as a bandstand for performances and airport events and will incorporate elements of the steel frame from the exterior canopies. The atrium will host several retailers and large pieces of artwork that strengthen the connection of the green space to the sky.

“The design converts the atrium from a processing space to an engaging civic area that connects visitors and travelers to Atlanta, reinforcing the airport as an ambassador for the region,” said Rasmus.

The high-performance design features energy-efficient cladding and building systems. Ceilings will be altered to improve the harvesting of natural light and to optimize interior lighting systems, which include LED lighting.

Improved circulation and signage systems will make wayfinding intuitive. A clearly marked airport security screening zone leads passengers from the atrium to concourses and gates. Improvements to the baggage claim area include highly visible digital monitors and new speaker systems.

The HOK-led joint venture for the terminal modernization includes Stanley, Love-Stanley, P.C., and Chasm Architecture, L.L.C., both headquartered in Atlanta.

The airport’s $6 billion modernization will also include improvements to concourses, hospitality and retail services, runways, cargo, parking and support facilities.

HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm

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