Trends In Facility Design

From planning for technology to keeping sustainability top-of-mind, airport terminal structures are evolving into environmentally responsible travel and information hubs


Jonathan Massey, principle at Corgan Associates, is an aviation architect and planner with more than 19 years of experience in the development and production of aviation-related facilities.

In addition to terminal design, Massey has worked extensively in the area of terminal modernization, renovation, and expansion in active operational environments; he holds two degrees in architecture and is LEED-Accredited.

Recent projects for Corgan include the new new 19-gate concourse and Terminal B at Sacramento International Airport (SMF) and a terminal renovation at Dallas Love Field (DAL)

At Sacramento, unique features included a replacement terminal, a significant rework of roadways, an impact on operations, and the addition of a people-mover system. There were significant operational implementation challenges, relates Massey. A LEED-Silver certified project, a primary goal at SMF was to create a distinct sense of place to evoke a particular regional feel. To that end, Corgan incorporated regional materials into the building design, such as reclaimed Redwood.

At Dallas Love Field, which was Corgan’s first terminal project in 1958, and currently home of Southwest Airlines, the project involved a partial tear-down of three existing concourses and the rebuilding of a single concourse, and heavy renovation of the terminal building.

Planned to be a LEED-Silver structure, the Love Field facility was designed with several sustainable elements in mind, says Massey. Corgan sourced wood locally, and with regard to the energy model, much effort was put into the energy management function of the facilities.

The BIM Advantage

In terms of passenger flow and simulation modeling, Massey says the technology to present a true graphical representation of terminal interior models and how passengers use the facility has gotten much better in recent years. “Simulation modeling is a tried and true tool we continue to use,” he comments.

The real advantage these days relates to BIM (building information modeling), says Massey. BIM allows building drawings and specifications to be modeled and reviewed in three dimensions.

“We’ve found that BIM has been extremely helpful in terminal buildings from a conflict resolution standpoint,” he adds. “In the past, many things had to be resolved in the field … now that we use BIM — and the many designers and engineers can put all of their drawings in 3-D — we can do that conflict-resolution in a conference room on a screen before construction happens.

“This allows us to see where problems may exist before we get to that point in construction; it drives costs down and makes the process go along much easier.”

BIM has also changed how architects, engineers, and contractors work together by requiring more communication between stakeholders, explains Massey.

The construction procurement method can have a significant impact over how the modeling and coordination process goes, he says. “We have done a lot of projects where the client brings on a construction manager during design — we have found that to be very beneficial. We believe overlap with the contractor and the design team is a good thing.

“In general, the best way to implement the terminal is to have the same set of eyes follow the process from planning all the way to opening day — that ensures the best continuity and execution of the original ideas.”

Planning For Technology

The evolution of the technology industry has certainly had an effect on airport terminal buildings, relates Massey.

He remarks, “At Love Field, when we started to tear into the building and renovate it, we went into the basement and found ‘spaghetti’ of conduits and wires … everything from copper that had been there for 30 years to new fiber that somebody put in last year.”

The good thing is the industry is getting to a point where everything is pretty much fiber optics, and everybody rides on the fiber-backbone, says Massey. “Airports can now provide that backbone and manage it just as it provides the roadway out front of the facility.”

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