May 30, 2019

City of Chicago Awards Lead Architect and Construction Manager At-Risk Contracts for O’Hare 21

CHICAGO – The City of Chicago today awarded a lead architect contract to Studio ORD, who will drive the design of the unprecedented $8.5 billion expansion program for O’Hare International Airport. Known as O’Hare 21, the historic plan by the City of Chicago and its airline partners will transform O’Hare with new facilities and modern infrastructure. The selection of Studio ORD following a competitive procurement process was announced in March 2019. Now officially under contract, Studio ORD will begin working with the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), airline partners and other key stakeholders to bring to life their design concept for the new O’Hare Global Terminal and Global Concourse.

“The CDA is thrilled to partner with Studio ORD to bring O’Hare into the 21st century and transform the travel experience from curb to gate for the 83 million passengers who rely on O’Hare every year,” said Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee. “This experienced, world renowned team will help the City and our airline partners create economic opportunity for our communities while furthering momentum behind Chicago as a global leader in air travel. O’Hare 21 isn’t just a catalyst for transformation in aviation – it’s a catalyst for growth for Chicago’s 77 communities and the entire Chicagoland area.”

Led by Jeanne Gang, Studio ORD is a joint venture comprised of Studio Gang Architects, Ltd. (WBE), Solomon Cordwell Buenz, Corgan, Milhouse Engineering & Construction, Inc. (MBE) and STL Architects, Inc. (MBE). Collectively, these partners have designed hundreds of projects in Chicago and more than 150 airport terminal projects across the globe. Studio ORD’s contract is valued at $160,000,000.

“The new Global Terminal and Global Concourse is a critical project for unlocking both O’Hare’s potential to be a leader in aviation and Chicago’s future success as a contemporary, economically strong, and truly global city,” said Jeanne Gang, Founding Principal of Studio Gang and Lead Designer of Studio ORD. “As a Chicagoan, I understand deeply the importance of O’Hare to our city’s identity, and I am honored that my hometown has provided our team the opportunity to realize a design that can demonstrate Chicago’s unique culture, traditions, and diversity to visitors and residents alike.”

Studio ORD will also set the tone and palette for the second architect team, who will design the two new satellite concourses to be built west of Terminal 1. The second team will be selected from the remaining four finalists who were shortlisted in the lead architect selection process: Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza Joint Venture Partners; Foster Epstein Moreno Joint Venture Partners; Santiago Calatrava LLC; and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). This team will be selected in the coming months.

As the world's largest airline, we are eager to enter the next stage in elevating O'Hare's global status as a leader in design, amenities and customer experience," said Franco Tedeschi, American Airlines Vice President - Chicago. "American is proud to partner with the City of Chicago in their endeavor to create a world-class airport for our team members and customers who work here and travel to, from or through Chicago." 

“We congratulate Studio ORD on this significant achievement and look forward to the next steps in delivering a better customer experience and a world-class airport the city and people deserve,” said Gavin Molloy, United’s vice president of corporate real estate.

In addition to awarding the lead architect contract, the City of Chicago also awarded three Construction Manager at-Risk (CMAR) contracts for key O’Hare 21 projects. These CMARs will be 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. The selected CMARs are Austin Power Partners, Turner Paschen Aviation Partners, and AECOM Hunt Clayco JV. These teams were selected through a competitive procurement process that began with an RFQ issued in March 2017 which had seven respondents, followed by an RFP issued in October 2018 which had five respondents. Each of the three selected teams were awarded contracts valued at $116,000,000.

The O’Hare 21 projects are unique and challenging in a variety of different ways. All three CMAR teams have knowledge of O’Hare and experience working through construction challenges. The scope for the CMARs has not been divided out yet, but will include the following O’Hare 21 projects: the Terminal 5 expansion, the new Satellite Terminal 2 and its associated APM tunnel, mass grading required for the future Western Employee Parking and Security Facility, and various projects that will enable the construction of future O’Hare 21 projects such as the O’Hare Global Terminal and Global Concourse.

O’Hare 21 represents an unprecedented opportunity for local participation, including contracting opportunities at all levels and tens of thousands of jobs that have been forecast for the program. In addition to the City’s goal for a minimum of 30 percent of work for M/WBE firms, Studio ORD plans to facilitate seven mentor-protégé partnerships to support small and local firms in gaining airport experience. All three CMARs will be required to meet MBE and WBE participation goals of 26% and 6% respectively. These commitments are just a floor, not a ceiling, for driving the maximum in diversity participation throughout O’Hare 21. The CDA will leverage the multitude of programs the City has to offer, such as community hiring and Small- and Mid-Sized Business Initiatives, to ensure small, minority-, women-, disabled- and veteran-owned businesses in Chicago and the greater Chicagoland area have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from this once-in-a-lifetime program. This emphasis on inclusion will lead to widespread economic growth in the region for years to come.

The CDA will implement the best-in-the-nation practice of utilizing external Integrity Monitoring services to oversee the three CMARs and ensure compliance throughout construction of the O’Hare 21 program. The Integrity Monitor will utilize legal, auditing, investigative, loss prevention, and other technical skills to provide real-time project monitoring and proactive solutions. They will enforce broader and deeper contract and program compliance - such as M/WBE participation – and ensure all business activities are conducted with the highest ethical standards. The City issued an RFP for Integrity Monitoring services in March 2019 and expects to announce award in the fall.

Over the next decade, O’Hare 21 will deliver 25 percent more gate space, a more streamlined passenger experience, and enable O’Hare’s future growth to better connect travelers and Chicago to other parts of the world. The expansion will be paid for by airport revenues, not taxpayer dollars.

O’Hare 21 creates a unique opportunity for public feedback and an unprecedented level of transparency. As part of the design competition to select a lead architect for the O’Hare Global Terminal, more than 41,000 surveys were cast by residents and travelers after terminal designs were unveiled to the public at the Chicago Architecture Center earlier this year.

The public’s feedback was incorporated in the evaluation committee’s review and selection of the lead architect. With the survey sparking a deeper dive into which amenities matter most to passengers, CDA is seeking additional public input on which amenities should be included in the next phase of the O'Hare expansion at

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