Mayor Emanuel Announces Five Shortlisted Teams to Compete to be Lead Architect on the O'Hare Terminal Expansion Project

November 7, 2018

With next milestone of the international design search, Chicago residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on potential designs for the O’Hare Global Terminal

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that the City of Chicago has shortlisted five teams to compete to win the opportunity to design the historic O’Hare 21 Terminal Expansion Project at O’Hare International Airport. The shortlist features a wide range of teams, with international and local expertise, who will vie for a chance to shape the future O'Hare Global Terminal and the airport's biggest expansion ever.

The teams include: Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza Joint Venture Partners; Foster Epstein Moreno JV Joint Venture Partners; Santiago Calatrava LLC; Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM); and Studio ORD 
Joint Venture Partners.

“Chicago has called upon some of the world’s best designers to help carry out our vision for the new O’Hare Global Terminal—the key to a bigger, better and more modern O’Hare for the 21st century,” said Mayor Emanuel. “As we look ahead to O’Hare’s future—we won’t forget Chicago’s legacy of architecture and transportation. By the end of this competition, we will change the trajectory of O’Hare forever, and ensure Chicago remains a leading hub for travelers around the world.”

The shortlisted teams will be invited to participate in a Request for Proposal (RFP) for Lead Architectural Design Services. Through the RFP process, this winter, each team will submit a design model that will be showcased at various locations throughout the city.

In the coming months, the City will seek public feedback on the design concepts presented by each of the five finalist teams. This input will be taken into consideration as part of the final selection.

“Through this once in a lifetime opportunity, the City of Chicago is inviting the global design community as well as the voices of residents to enhance the future of Chicago-O’Hare,” said Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee. “As we work to elevate O’Hare to compete globally, we have asked teams for a commitment to mentoring small local firms, too. In doing so, our goal is to involve Chicago’s business community in an unmatched opportunity to gain valuable experience on a project of international proportions.”

Transportation, business and civic leaders from the City of Chicago will make up the official selection committee with additional technical advisories from leading architectural firms, cultural and academic institutions and local businesses also providing their recommendations.

"This procurement represents an opportunity for the Department to play a role in a historic moment for the City. We are committed to ensuring the integrity of the procurement process and continuing our partnership with Aviation and all stakeholders as we move forward," said Commissioner Shannon Andrews, Department of Procurement Services.

In June of 2018, a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for Lead Architectural Design Services was issued by the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) through the Chicago Department of Procurement Services (DPS). In response, 12 teams submitted Statements of Qualifications, and five teams were later shortlisted based on the city's evaluation of the 12 submissions. 

This procurement represents a significant step forward in the O’Hare 21 program, which is Mayor Emanuel’s vision for a modern O’Hare. It calls for a dramatically elevated travel experience, better access and amenities for customers, capacity to accommodate today’s fast-growing commercial aviation industry, and the foundation to fuel Chicago’s leading international air connectivity for the future. The centerpiece of this program is the $8.5 billion terminal expansion plan for O’Hare, the largest in the airport’s history.  

O’Hare 21 will create tens of thousands of construction jobs for the next eight years, and tens of thousands of new permanent jobs with the airport, airlines, tourism, and supporting industries to support a larger, modern airport complex in the next decade.

The City of Chicago is committed to ensuring local residents and firms are on track to fill the positions needed to modernize O’Hare, and will take additional measures to ensure more residents and firms representing the diversity of the City in economic growth opportunities created by O’Hare 21 and the terminal expansion.

To view bids with the Department of Procurement Services, go

For more information on the Mayor’s vision for O’Hare 21, visit

Click here to download the press release.