Orlando International Airport’s South Terminal C Highlights Innovation, Technology and Sustainability

Feb. 23, 2022
Facility set to open this year.

The largest expansion project undertaken in Orlando International Airport (MCO) history is set to open later this year. The project is nearly 90 percent complete. The new terminal will encompass 300 acres and add 15 gates capable of accommodating up to 20 aircraft, including narrow body, jumbo and super-jumbo jets. The three-level South Terminal C will accommodate travel for an additional 10-12 million annual passengers.

MCO consistently ranks among the nation’s best airports for customer service. The new South Terminal C is designed to reinforce this reputation. Encompassing over 2.5 million square feet, the new terminal will debut the next generation of The Orlando Experience: a seamless, low-touch environment with an exciting combination of concession offerings, immersive media displays and an unparalleled sense of arrival.

The space includes an Early Bag Storage robotic system and a state-of-the-art Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID) tote system that tracks luggage in real-time and is faster than conventional baggage conveyor systems. Incoming passengers will enjoy top-floor arrivals with streamlined luggage collection on the same level.

In addition to the unique architecture and aesthetics, travelers will enjoy an easier, more efficient screening process with 100% automated lanes for international departures and arrivals. When it comes to the passenger experience, the South Terminal includes interactive video displays in the ticket halls, concession hub and gate areas that will provide high definition visual experiences. The project is being designed and built to be the first LEED v4 airport campus and will provide passengers with access to several indoor spaces that promote sustainability.

“The combination of sophisticated design and innovation truly puts people first in a world-class facility that will deliver “The Orlando Experience” and more the minute they set foot inside,” said Carolyn Fennell, senior director of Public Affairs and Community Relations of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “Orlando International Airport, the main gateway to Florida and one of the country’s most popular leisure destinations, is preparing for the future of travel with this impressive construction endeavor.”

Here's what the project’s main contributing companies are saying about the South Terminal:

Curtis Fentress, FAIA principal in Charge of Design with Design Architect Fentress Architects, described his vision for the South Terminal as using large gestures to create an unforgettable arrival experience to an extraordinary destination. “The future airport design for Orlando International Airport has to provide information, convenience, and efficiency to accommodate the demands of a broad profile of passengers,” Fentress said. “It has to also provide a “sense of place” reflected by its architecture and the character of Central Florida that highlights the next generation of The Orlando Experience.”

Fentress said “we really embraced the Orlando Experience with the innovative skylight that produces dappled light, passengers will feel as though they are walking through an orange grove, one of this area’s most beloved local features. We also utilized plants, trees and new technology throughout that will enhance the passenger experience now and for generations to come.”

“The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority’s Terminal C design theme truly embraces the trilogy of architecture, which is masterfully mixing Nature, Art and Society,” said J.C. Arteaga, AIA, HNTB architect of record. “You need all three to create truly iconic architecture.”

“Some terminals are designed for airlines or aircraft. Orlando International Airport’s new Terminal C is designed for people. The aviation authority wanted its new world class terminal to be the beginning of a visitor’s vacation by bringing Florida’s trademark flora inside,” said Bill Brooks, PE, HNTB senior program director for the architect of record team. “Inviting water, garden and light into Orlando’s terminal and grounds has long been a core element of The Orlando Experience.”

Paul O’Donnell, operations manager for Hensel Phelps, said “We are set up as a collaborative village and everyone has worked well together. The interproject scheduling tool has helped with collaboration, but most importantly, everyone is rowing in the same direction.”

“It is an honor to partner with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority on the expansion of the Orlando International Airport,” said Jeff Justen, vice president and business manager, Turner Construction Company. “This terminal so well reflects the vibrancy and diversity of Central Florida, and we are so proud that people from the community were involved in building this gateway to the community. It  will be so much more than a transfer point from one place to another. The modern terminal includes the latest technology, sustainable and efficient features, and will serve as a wonderful entryway for passengers visiting, living, and working in the region.”

“The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority assembled a world-class team of architects, engineers, designers and builders to move this project from blueprint to reality,” said Nick Sosa, project manager at Kiewit. “The result is an extraordinary facility that will further enhance the experience of millions of travelers each year.”

“From day one, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority has provided strong and consistent leadership committed to technological excellence,” said Brian Phillips, vice president Aviation for Burns Engineering. “The result will be a world-class facility that will not only be efficient and safe but will provide passengers with a memorable one-of-a kind experience that showcases all Orlando has to offer.”