2021 Airport Business Project of the Year - LaGuardia Airport Redevelops Terminal B

June 17, 2021

Location: LaGuardia Airport

Project: Terminal B Redevelopment

Cost: $4 billion

Grand Opening: June 13, 2020

Key Participants: LaGuardia Gateway Partners, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

The upgraded Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport in New York city celebrated its grand opening on June 13, 2020. The project is the largest public-private partnership in US aviation history according to LaGuardia Gateway Partners, the developer and operator of Terminal B.

“With over 15 million passengers traveling through a year, the original Terminal building, Terminal B, had far exceeded its initial capacity – having been built in the 1960s to accommodate eight million passengers a year,” said Stewart Steeves, CEO of LaGuardia Gateway Partners.

Steeves noted the old terminal featured low ceilings and narrow corridors, with most of the dining and shops located pre-security. The revamped terminal now features soaring ceilings, natural light, enhanced security screening, art, shops and dining – most post security.

The 1.3 million square-foot terminal has four levels. The first level is dedicated to high occupancy vehicles and the welcome center while level two is for arrivals. This level features nine baggage carousels and two oversize luggage belts. Departures takes up level three with 75 counters located within four check-in islands with eight rows. It also has 105 self-service kiosks, a first of its kind in North American TSA security checkpoint installation. Level four features a majority of shops, restaurants and services, all post security.

The terminal is the first in the world to have the Smart PAD system, expediting the check-in process.

“Currently only being used in the TSA test lab, it allows up to five people to divest into bins simultaneously per lane and will automatically sequence the bins onto the belt while the passenger begins filling the next bin,” said LaGuardia Gateway Partners.

“We are delivering an elevated passenger experience that is worthy of NYC,” Steeves continued. “We believe this will translate into relaxed passengers who want to enjoy all the offerings of the terminal – including our robust commercial offerings.”

The terminal has been in the works for a few years. Both the Terminal B parking garage and the eastern concourse opened in 2018. The first half of the western concourse opened in August 2020, with the remaining half to open in early 2022. 

The new terminal was built next to, in front of and even on top of the old terminal. Steeves said building overtop allowed the original terminal to remain fully operational during construction and reduced the number of phases needed to complete the project. This design incorporated two pedestrian skybridges built on top of the old terminal to connect the Arrivals and Departures Hall to the concourses and bring two extra miles of taxiway space to the busy airport. The eastern skybridge is currently open and the western bridge will open by early 2022, making LaGuardia the only airport in the world to have dual bridges.

Sustainability was a significant consideration in the design of the project. The new terminal even earned the Envision Platinum rating from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.

“Projects are evaluated based on a robust set of criteria, including traditional factors such as reducing emissions, recycling materials and using renewable energy sources, as well as more holistic indicators of social and economic sustainability, such as minimizing construction impacts, providing employment opportunities for local residents, resilient design and improving mobility and access,” Steeves said.

The project will cut the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

“As the first transportation agency to embrace the Paris Climate Agreement, the Port Authority is committed to best practices in reducing its carbon footprint at the brand-new LaGuardia Airport as well as our other facilities,” said Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “The terminal was designed to help generate energy, save water and reduce total emissions once the project is complete. Design considerations include a new baggage handling system, strategically placed unconditioned environments and wall-to-ceiling windows that reduce the need for lighting which will result in 19 percent net energy savings when the project is completed.”

The terminal is required to achieve at least a Silver LEED certification, though it is trending toward a Gold rating, according to a spokesperson from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Compliance strategies specific to greenhouse gas emissions include diverting 75 percent of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste from landfills, using 20 percent recycled materials and LED lighting fixtures as well as high-efficiency HVAC equipment and refrigerants that eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. 99 percent of debris from the old P2 parking garage was recycled for use on the project.

There is a solar hot water system on the roof of the terminal which will augment the domestic hot water supply for the bathrooms.

“The solar hot water system, combined with our water efficient fixtures, is expected to generate 78 percent in hot water energy savings,” according to LaGuardia Gateway Partners.

The baggage handling system features 3.2 miles of conveyor belt and can handle 3,250 bags per hour. The system is energy efficient and goes into “sleep mode” when it’s not in use. This will save at least 37 percent of energy compared to airports that don’t use this technology.

The design also included commissioned art to enhance the aesthetic of the terminal.

The art expresses the creative spirit of New York and was conceived specifically for the new Terminal B, according to LaGuardia Gateway Partners. The four art pieces include Sarah Sze’s Shorter than the Day, Laura Owens’ I Pizza NY, Sabine Hornig’s La Guardia Vistas, and Jeppe Hein’s All Your Wishes.

Storefronts feature façades inspired by the architecture of different neighborhoods of Manhattan, including Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center and Soho. Native stone elements were inspired by Westchester and the terminal features photography of New York City throughout.