2022 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Kate McPhillips Eby, AIA

Dec. 13, 2022
Kate McPhillips Eby, AIA, Senior Associate, Architect, HOK Architects
Lga Site Photo1 636d9ea7a2bdf

As a New Yorker, Kate McPhillips Eby, AIA, considers LaGuardia Airport (LGA) her home airport. As a senior associate, architect, with HOK Architects, LGA was her focus for eight years.

“Working on the design competition for the new LaGuardia Terminal B Project was my gateway into the aviation and transportation industry,” she said. “I spent 8 years working on one airport and am fortunate because I was able to work on the LaGuardia Terminal B project from design competition through to completion – all phases of design and construction that take you either back to the drawing board or out to the site to problem solve. I learned a lot about aviation architecture and the design process through this project.”

The complete redevelopment of LGA’s Terminal B was the winner of several design awards and the first airport to receive LEED v4 Gold certification.

“It is truly the best when I meet people and they talk about how much they love and appreciate the new LaGuardia,” she said. “The positive feedback from friends, colleagues or a taxi driver is the best feeling.”

McPhillips Eby has taken her experience and lessons learned from LGA to other airports across the country, including George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL).

She likes both the variety of the work in aviation and the problem-solving aspect of design. “Every airport has different requirements – from location, size, site constraints, to passenger demographics, type of travel – regional, domestic, international and so on… All of these factors contribute to a unique design solution.”

McPhillips Eby participates in several design and industry organizations. She is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Urban Land Institute and Professional Women in Construction (PWC) and was honored in PWC’s 2020 40 Under 40 Outstanding Women in Construction. She is also a member of the American Association of Airport Executives and the Airport Consultants Council.

To aviation planners, she says, “we have to focus on adapting airports to the new realities of our environment. So often design solutions are patches or short-term fixes to existing infrastructure. We need to figure out as an industry how to look past the next five years and develop plans for airports that are visionary and address climate change for decades to come. New airports require billions in spending to overhaul, and so when funding is spent on these massive infrastructure projects, it needs to be done responsibly, with resiliency and sustainability in mind. Climate is the next big disrupter in our industry, and by planning ahead and addressing the challenges of flooding, heat waves, clean energy resources, etc., we can add value to the billions of dollars already being invested.”

McPhillips Eby would like to be part of this paradigm shift. “Bold, visionary, sustainable master planning needs to lead our decision making when it comes to investing in new airports, transit and infrastructure,” she continued. “It will require creative project delivery solutions that go outside of the current funding structures and political cycles, and it will require a re-examination of the passenger experience through the lens of world class design and long-term planning.”