O'Hare 21 Program Reaches Critical Milestone with Design Team Fully In Place
Lead architect, satellite architect, and lead civil engineer tasked with modernizing and transforming the O’Hare travel experience while maintaining safe operations at world’s busiest airfield
CHICAGO – With the O’Hare 21 expansion and modernization program already well underway, the City of Chicago today announced a critical milestone, securing the services of its three key designers. The City’s contract with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP (SOM) to design two new satellite concourses immediately west of the terminal core has been finalized, while HNTB has been selected to serve as the lead civil engineer. SOM and HNTB join Studio ORD – the lead architect tasked with designing the new O’Hare Global Terminal – on the design team that will transform the airport.
“Having our three lead designers in place and working in parallel is a critical moment for the overall success of the O’Hare 21 program, and we’re moving forward in a spirit of cohesion and collaboration,” Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said. “With Studio ORD and SOM providing inspiration above ground and HNTB lending their considerable expertise below ground, we have assembled a team of unparalleled vision and talent, and every traveler who uses O’Hare will benefit. We are committed to continuing to work closely with our federal and airline partners to build a new O’Hare on schedule and on budget, all while maintaining the safe operations at the world’s busiest airfield. All three designers will contribute significantly to this goal through their designs and input to detailed implementation plans in conjunction with the broader O’Hare community.”
O’Hare 21 is the result of a landmark agreement between the City of Chicago and its airline partners, and it marks the largest expansion and first major capital improvements to O’Hare’s passenger terminals in over a quarter-century. The new Terminal Area Plan (TAP) will completely redevelop existing Terminal 2, add two new concourses, replace and expand aircraft gates, and set in motion a wide range of other improvements that will significantly enhance airline performance and the overall passenger experience.
“This is a significant milestone towards the realization of the City’s vision for an inspirational, accessible, and sustainable new O’Hare. Our team has been working closely with CDA to develop design principles that will allow each project on O’Hare’s campus to celebrate the spirit and distinctive character of Chicago. As the SOM team develops a concept that meets the unique needs of the satellite concourses, we look forward to collaborating with their team and the City of Chicago to create a seamless user experience across the satellites and the O’Hare Global Terminal,” said Jeanne Gang, lead designer for the O’Hare Global Terminal and founding partner of Studio Gang. Last year, the joint venture comprised of her firm Studio Gang, Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB), Corgan, Milhouse Engineering & Construction, Inc., and STLarchitects was selected to design the 2.2 million square foot terminal, as well as to set the tone and palette for the satellite concourses.
The project will be delivered in phases, with an expanded Terminal 5 representing the first major terminal upgrade at O’Hare. Construction of the satellite concourses and supporting infrastructure will follow, estimated to substantially begin in 2022. Once the satellites are online, construction of the O’Hare Global Terminal can begin, replacing Terminal 2. The program also includes enhancements to integrate Terminals 1 and 3 into the O’Hare Global Terminal to enable seamless passenger connections. O’Hare 21, the $8.5 billion project to modernize O’Hare’s terminals, follows the successful delivery of the O’Hare Modernization Program that transformed O’Hare’s runway system and reduced aircraft delays. O’Hare 21 is projected to directly create more than 60,000 jobs over the course of the program. The overall regional economic impact will be greater, with a growing O’Hare expected to contribute at least $50 billion to the region, and to enable at least 460,000 regional jobs in the next eight years.
“We are honored to join the City’s design team to move forward this exciting and transformative project,” Scott Duncan, SOM Design Partner, said. “O’Hare is not only one of the world’s busiest and most critical transportation hubs, but a critical part of Chicago’s economic and social infrastructure. We are thrilled to work in partnership with the CDA, Studio ORD and the rest of the O’Hare 21 program team to create a vibrant and sustainable airport that will enhance carrier operations and elevate the experience of tens of millions of travelers.”
The timely design and construction of the satellite concourses – valued at approximately $1.4 billon – are crucial to the program’s critical path and must be completed and in use before construction of the O’Hare Global Terminal can begin. When complete, the satellite concourses will provide opportunities for O’Hare’s airline partners and their networks to continue growing while a significant number of existing gates and facilities are closed for construction. The new facilities at O’Hare will result in greater connectivity and competitive pricing for travelers.
“As Chicago’s airline of choice, we congratulate SOM, HNTB, and our partners at the City of Chicago on another milestone in O’Hare’s transformation,” said Michael Minerva, American Airlines Vice President of Government and Airport Affairs. “Much like American, SOM has rich history and roots in Chicago, and we look forward to working with them – and all of the design teams – to create a world-class customer experience at O’Hare Airport.”
“We congratulate SOM and HNTB on joining the O’Hare 21 team as we continue taking steps towards building a better O’Hare and improving the travel experience for the nearly 38 million United customers who transit our hometown hub every year,” Gavin Molloy, Vice President, Corporate Real Estate for United Airlines said.
Lead civil engineer HNTB will design the heavy infrastructure components of the program required to support the new terminal facilities, including the design of the central tunnel system that will convey utilities, baggage and passengers from the O’Hare Global Terminal to the satellite concourses. Additionally, HNTB will be tasked with the design of the taxiways and civil infrastructure between and around the proposed concourses, ensuring the existing facilities and the world’s busiest airfield operations are not impacted during the anticipated TAP construction.
Both SOM and HNTB – as well Studio ORD – were selected as the result of a competitive process, and have committed to comply with the City’s ambitious participation goals for this project. Design contracts also include a mentor/protégé program commitment.
Work to expand and revolutionize the traveler experience at O’Hare is already well underway, most notably at Terminal 5, where 10 new gates and space for 70% more passenger amenities, airline lounges, and concessions space are being constructed, and a new baggage handling system is being developed. Just last week, Mayor Lightfoot joined CDA and the Chicago Police Department to cut the ribbon on the new CPD O’Hare facility, which replaces the previous facility demolished to make way for the Terminal 5 expansion.
The three architecture and engineering teams will work alongside the project’s three Construction Managers At-Risk (CMARs] in propelling O’Hare 21 forward. The CMARs are responsible for representing the City’s best interests and ensuring these complex projects are completed on time, on budget, and with a commitment to diversity and local participation. Austin Power Partners (APP), Turner Paschen Aviation Partners (TPAP), and AECOM Hunt Clayco JV are the CMARs and they have been tasked with developing hiring plans to meet the project’s ambitious diversity and inclusivity goals. Just last week, CDA and the CMARs jointly hosted an Industry Day at UIC to spread the word about upcoming opportunities at O’Hare.
O’Hare 21’s major terminal projects are set to grow O’Hare’s overall terminal square footage by more than 60%, from 5.5 to 8.9 million square feet, and increase aircraft gate frontage by 25%. More aircraft gate capacity will enable O’Hare and its airline partners to reduce delays by improving access to gates for arriving aircraft, and it will also enable O’Hare to handle a wider range of aircraft more efficiently, including larger aircraft that allows more passengers served. As O’Hare adds gates and improves its terminals, passenger volumes are expected to keep pace with a strong demand for air travel worldwide, which, according to aviation experts, will double to 14 billion air travelers in the next decade.