Airport Architectural Wonders: The New Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX

New Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) opens


Is it an airport terminal, shopping mall, restaurant row or an interactive entertainment complex? At LAX, it’s all of the above.

The eagerly anticipated day finally arrived for the grand opening of the New Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), part of a nearly 2 billion dollar improvement project for the airport. This major airport milestone heralds the completion of Phase 1, which broke ground in February 2010 and encompasses the north and south concourses with nine boarding gates that can accommodate larger, new-generation (Group VI) aircraft such as the double-decker Airbus A-380 and the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. With these major upgrades, LAX is positioned as the premier U.S. West Coast international gateway. When fully completed in 2015, the TBIT terminal will include 19 gates in all.

There was no shortage of excitement for the official opening of the terminal for passenger operations. Grand opening and ribbon-cutting festivities included elected officials, airport and airline representatives, and airport tenants, who all joined Mayors Eric Garcetti, Antonio Villaraigosa, Richard Riordan and James Hahn to hail the new LAX upgrades.

In the new grand 150,000-square-foot Antonio Villaraigosa Pavilion, passengers will be impressed by a first-class level of comfort and convenience with premier dining, upscale retail shopping, airline lounges, a children’s play area, spa and other amenities. A world-class city deserves a world-class airport.

The Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX is the first and last impression of Los Angeles for nine million travelers every year,” said Mayor Garcetti.

The terminal is an architectural icon, inspired by the Pacific Ocean on LAX’s west side, with a flowing roofline that recalls the rhythm of the waves breaking on the beach. It is light, airy, open and spacious, full of natural daylight. Designed by prime architect Fentress Architects, along with HNTB as associated architect, the new TBIT enhancement and modernization project’s goal was to improve the passenger experience from curbside to airside. From everything I have seen so far, this goal has not only been achieved, but surpassed, creating an airport architectural wonder.

The formal fanfare culminated in the on-time arrival of a Singapore Airlines A-380 aircraft to ‘cut’ a huge ceremonial ribbon with the aircraft’s nose cone as the plane was towed to Gate 148. Passengers, seeing the celebrations, deplaned and proceeded through the expanded and upgraded U.S. Customs and Border Protection federal inspection area that promises to expedite the usually lengthy arrivals process.

TBIT has enjoyed a number of successful milestones during the construction process. In March, the first three aircraft gates were opened for passenger traffic by then Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, who helped to unveil three new gates and the north concourse. Two of those gates accommodate super jumbo jets and use state-of-the-art, laser-based, visual-guidance-docking systems.

HNTB project manager Allen Berentes has worked with LAX for three decades and on the modernization project for 10 years said, “It’s gratifying to see LAX becoming competitive in aesthetics and services with major international airports.”

Working collaboratively with architects, contractors and consultants, this monumental effort has resulted in the completion of Phase 1 of the overall TBIT modernization, which is the crown jewel of the $4.1 billion LAX Capital Investments Program. The accomplishment of this new terminal facility construction solidifies LAX’s leadership position among its airport competition.

As the largest public works project in the history of the City of Los Angeles, economic benefits include the creation of 4,000 construction-related jobs and about 2,000 permanent concession jobs with the start-up of terminal operations. According to Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), every daily round-trip overseas flight on wide-body aircraft at LAX generates $623 million annually and provides 3,120 local jobs.

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