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

The challenge today is designing the facilities in a way that the technology is easily accessible, and not in the way of something that might need to be done to the physical infrastructure of the building in the future, explains Massey.

“There are a couple of very technology-intensive areas like ticketing halls and security checkpoints where everything needs an IP (internet protocol) address — it needs to be an adaptable network that you can get to and manage,” he comments.

“Particularly in the ticketing halls, there are certain layouts of equipment that you can reasonably expect in many facilities. We try to create right-of-ways beneath the floor that correspond to those equipment ‘zones’.

“The biggest thing we have found we can do with regard to IT is try to be as preemptive as we can about defining the logical locations for future needs, and then reserving those spaces.”

Defining Space; Wayfinding

The ticketing halls are getting to be a third of the size they used to be, relates Massey. “Probably within the next ten years I would think the ticketing hall size will reach equilibrium where it has become right-sized and where the baggage function will be the area’s primary function.”

The security checkpoint is one of the most difficult parts of the building to deal with, says Massey. “The best practices that we’ve found is to provide flexible infrastructure below the floor — you have to be able to get to the floor below the checkpoint so it is easier to run cable and move outlets as the equipment layouts change,” he adds.

“Another trend at the checkpoint is to put ‘soft’ space on either side. By soft space, I mean offices or elements that can be relocated and moved around in case the checkpoint needs to be expanded.”

The intuitive wayfinding concept is an architectural idea, explains Massey. “Particularly, it is related to the departures process, and it goes to the level of service.

“What you want the building to do is make the departures process for a passenger as simple and stress-free as possible ... that is done by creating space and utilizing art — telling people what to do next with the intelligent use of light and volume.

“Tall ceilings, bright lights, and clear views in the direction we want people to go; that’s the basic premise of intuitive wayfinding.”

Concessions; Retail

Most everything is post-security these days, except in places where there are larger meet and greet markets, says Massey.

He remarks, “Concessions are getting more and more important; concessions planners are telling us they need more space. The airport is using the concessions program as part of the branding of the airport and its region; we are doing a lot to integrate local flavor into the facility with regard to the retail and concession vendors.”


Corgan has many LEED-accredited professionals in the practice, says Massey. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a system meant to get designers and owners thinking sustainably, he continues.

“Many of the terminal projects have been certified LEED-Silver; that seems to be the appropriate level for airports that utilize LEED guidance,” comments Massey.

“We spend a lot of time analyzing the passenger population over time so we can determine the heat load, and right-size all of the systems in order to optimize the energy-saving potential of the building’s various operational systems.”

Looking for opportunistic innovation with regard to sustainability has paid off for Corgan, explains Massey. For example, the company reused Redwood from an old bridge for the Sacramento project.

In Dallas, Corgan found a natural underground spring — an ongoing problem for the airport with regard to keeping the basement dry. “We saw it as an opportunity,” says Massey. “We captured the water and used it for the building’s cooling systems.

“We like looking for unique aspects of different projects, and capitalizing on them in a sustainable way.”

With regard to building materials in general, “In recent years, we have gone away from the exposed steel structures in big spaces; it has gotten expensive in the past several years,” says Massey.

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