D/FW's New Terminal Can Show You the Way Around

The international terminal, scheduled to open a week from today, speaks with a global voice and a welcoming Texas twang to put travelers at ease.


Follow the wood and it will guide you through the terminal. From the ticket hall, through security, into concessions and to the gates. Or from the gates, through customs, through baggage and to the exit.

Viewed straight on, the wood appears rectangular. But in a series, the panels form subtle arrows leading passengers through the building.

Through intuitive wayfinding, a person should "feel" the right way to proceed -- to the center of the building.

"If you go through large halls, everything flows to the center, so the next path, the next portal from one space to the next is always in the center," says Clay Paslay, D/FW's executive vice president of airport development.

Can a passenger walk through the building without using signs? That's a consideration.

High ceilings in large halls become lower where face-to-face contact is needed. At security checkpoints, for example.

A glass canopy -- an artificial low ceiling -- is placed above customs check-in areas, security, information kiosks, ambassador stations. The message: A more intimate conversation awaits.

And to help passengers unwind during customs processing, the "art glass canopy" is composed of Japanese rice paper and flowers between two pieces of glass.

"We manipulate the height of the roof to guide the passenger through the specific location," Reiss said. "Using a series of these techniques, the passengers can literally walk to the front door, to the concessions, the holding room, using only architectural clues."

Where the ceiling is high, people are likely to gather.

See a major art piece nearby?

Again, a reference point -- a gathering node, also with a high ceiling.

Whether you're in ticketing, concessions or customs, you always have a view of the Skylink trains whizzing by.

The message: Travel is going on.

Airports by nature tend to be noisy. Sound bounces off the hard floors, which are needed for durability. That's where the specially designed perforated roofing with acoustical backing comes in.

The absorbed sound lowers stress levels -- there is less annoying click, click, click, click, click.

Offices below the ticketing halls also have a special sound-absorbing ceiling, Johnson said.

In case a traveler doesn't pick up on the building's clues, signs with international symbols are posted throughout Terminal D. Ticketing halls have signs in several languages. A term like toilet was selected over restroom because more people -- the Brits and the French, for example -- are likely to understand.

Airline workers and airport ambassadors are waiting to assist the lost or confused.

If Terminal D still doesn't make sense, ask a human.

With the help of a focus group, designers included ways to make navigating Terminal D easier for travelers with disabilities, including:

Artistic medallions that give floors a different texture for the visually impaired.

Service-animal relief areas in customs, for quick stops after long flights.

Sliding doors, security bollards/barriers to protect the terminal against possible car bombs. The barriers also help define the curb for travelers with poor vision.

Curbless crosswalks that eliminate the need to navigate slopes and that create a natural speed bump for motorists.

D/FW AIRPORT -- Move aside, Fear Factor.

An hourlong program featuring Dallas/Fort Worth Airport's new international Terminal D will air during prime time Monday night on NBC5/KXAS.

Taking Flight: The New DFW International, which airs at 7 p.m., examines the design and construction of D/FW's fifth terminal and discusses what the airport's expansion could mean for North Texas, said Brian Hocker, the program's executive director.

"It's a good look at a huge undertaking by an airport that touches all North Texans in one way or another," Hocker said. And deserving of a prime-time program, he said.

"We are gratified that Channel 5 saw the successful completion of this massive project as an important community event," D/FW Chief Executive Jeff Fegan said.

"It's clear this is a milestone event in North Texas history that will affect millions of our citizens and our visitors in a very positive way."

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