City of Chicago Announces Selection of SOM, LLP to Design Two Satellite Concourses at O’Hare

July 9, 2019

The City of Chicago today announced the selection of an architect team to lead the design of two new satellite concourses at O’Hare International Airport – an integral part of the airport’s $8.5 billion Terminal Area Plan expansion. Following a competitive process, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP (SOM) has been selected to design Satellite Concourse 1 and Satellite Concourse 2, which will be built west of the main terminal core. The City will now enter into contract negotiations with SOM. Upon award, SOM will begin working with the City of Chicago and O’Hare 21 stakeholders on this unprecedented modernization and expansion of O’Hare.

“With more than 80 million passengers relying on O'Hare every year, Chicago and our airline partners are making necessary investments today to keep O'Hare #1 in the nation for connectivity and a competitive global hub for the future,” Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot said. “As we build new state-of-the-art facilities, my administration will ensure residents from communities throughout our city can benefit from the thousands of jobs and opportunities created as we move O'Hare into the 21st century.”

With approximately 1.2 million new square feet of total building space, Satellites 1 and 2 will feature concourses that are double the width of those currently in use at O’Hare. All told, the Global Terminal and Concourse and satellites will provide 70 percent more passenger space and a 75-percent increase of commercial space at O’Hare. This means more passenger amenities, doubled airline lounge space, and the potential for more than 50 unique new dining and retail brands to have a presence at O’Hare.

“We congratulate SOM, and we applaud and remain inspired by all of the teams for submitting innovative, world-class proposals,” Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said. “O’Hare 21 is a truly transformational program for the airport and the entire Chicagoland area, revolutionizing the passenger experience and providing regional economic growth that will be felt for years to come.”

The new modern, light-filled satellite concourses will be designed with flexible gates to accommodate both narrow and wide-body airplanes, increasing connectivity and streamlining travel for passengers heading to domestic and international destinations. Satellite 1 will support international arrivals and departures as well as domestic arrivals and departures. Satellite 2 will support domestic arrivals and departures with international arrivals for pre-cleared markets, where passengers have already gone through U.S. Customs Border Protection before boarding their flight to the U.S.

“It is wonderful that the City is deepening the bench of exceptional talent working on this transformative project. We look forward to collaborating with SOM to realize our vision for a Global Terminal and Concourse that captures the unique culture of Chicago while ensuring a seamless and world-class experience for all its users,” Jeanne Gang, lead designer for the O'Hare Global Terminal said. In March, the joint venture comprised of her firm Studio Gang, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, Corgan, Milhouse Engineering & Construction, Inc., and STL architects was selected to design the 2.2 million square foot terminal, as well as to set the tone and palette for the satellite concourses.

“As Chicago’s hometown airline, we congratulate SOM on this remarkable achievement and look forward to continuing to work with the city and our partners as we take the next steps in building a better O’Hare for our customers and colleagues,” Gavin Molloy, Vice President, Corporate Real Estate for United Airlines said.

“Marking another milestone in O’Hare’s transformation, we’d like to congratulate SOM on an innovative design fit for a world-class airport,” Michael Minerva, American Airlines Vice President of Government and Airport Affairs said. “As Chicago’s airline of choice, we look forward to our continued partnership with the City of Chicago as we work together to elevate O’Hare’s global status as a leader in modern amenities and connectivity.”

The satellite concourses are valued at $1.4 billion and are currently slated to break ground in 2022. The City will work with its airline partners to ensure a timely, cost-efficient delivery of Satellite 1 and Satellite 2 and throughout the entire $8.5 billion project – which will be paid for by airport revenues, not taxpayer dollars. Additional gate capacity will enable O’Hare to keep up with projected travel growth and allow dual hub partners, United and American Airlines, and their alliance partners to grow at O’Hare, resulting in greater connectivity and competitive pricing for travelers.

In June 2018, a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to design O’Hare’s new Global Terminal and Concourse was issued, which established that the City of Chicago would enter into negotiations with the second-highest scoring team to design the satellite concourses once the contract to design the O’Hare Global Terminal and Concourse was awarded. A Request for Proposals (RFP) followed in November 2018 to the five teams that were shortlisted based on the city’s evaluation.

The joint venture of Studio Gang, SCB, Corgan, Milhouse, and STLArchitects received the highest overall score and entered into a contract with the City in May, 2019 to design the Global Concourse and Global Terminal, and to set the tone and palette for the satellite concourses. In accordance with the RFP, SOM – the second-highest scoring bid – has been selected to lead the design of Satellite 1 and Satellite 2. Should the City of Chicago and SOM fail to enter into a contract, the third-highest scoring bid will be selected.

The evaluation committee was comprised of a diverse group of members with experience in complex construction projects, airport operations, architecture, planning and budget, and small and local business affairs. Each evaluation committee member utilized the breadth of their experience and committed to the professional standards of the RFP Evaluation Guidelines. Collectively, the evaluation committee represents experience of working at over 100 airports throughout the U.S. and internationally.