March 27, 2019

City of Chicago Announces Selection of Studio ORD to Lead Historic O’Hare Expansion

Studio ORD selected to design new O’Hare Global Terminal and historic $8.5 billion expansion

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

The City of Chicago is announcing the selection of an architect team to lead the design of the unprecedented $8.5 billion expansion program for O’Hare International Airport. Following a competitive process that shortlisted five highly qualified architect teams, Studio ORD has been selected to design the new O’Hare Global Terminal and Global Concourse. The City will now enter into contract negotiations with Studio ORD. Upon contract award, Studio ORD will work with the City of Chicago and the airlines to design the new Global Terminal and Concourse. In the coming months, a second team will be selected from the remaining four finalists to design two new satellite concourses to be built west of Terminal 1.

This unprecedented expansion will elevate the travel experience for more than 83 million passengers relying upon O’Hare each year, and will create tens of thousands of jobs for the community. The expansion will be paid for by airport revenues, not taxpayer dollars.

“The City of Chicago called upon teams from across the city and around the world to lead O’Hare’s historic expansion, and Studio ORD answered that call,” said Mayor Emanuel. “During this historic competition, the world’s best architecture firms submitted their incredible visions for the world to see—with each of these five world-class designs strengthening our plans to bring O’Hare into the 21st century.  Today we congratulate Studio ORD who has proven they have the experience, expertise, and the talent needed to work with the City of Chicago as we usher in a new era at O’Hare.”

At 2.2 million square feet, the new O’Hare Global Terminal will be one of the largest and most cutting edge terminals in the nation. It will more than double the space at today’s Terminal 2, replacing it with an expanded, light-filled arrivals hall to feature: additional gates; more space for concessions, lounges and public amenities; state of the art new baggage systems; and advanced new technologies to improve security screening.

“The selection of the team to design the O’Hare Global Terminal represents a first step forward in redefining the experience for travelers around the world,” said Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee. “While we congratulate Studio ORD, we applaud all of the teams for bringing forward incredible proposals, and thank the public for their input in this process. This project is a game changer for Chicago, and we look forward to ongoing stakeholder engagement from the airport to the neighborhoods as we embark on our historic expansion.”

For the first time at O’Hare, the new Global Terminal will integrate international and domestic operations, allowing travelers to more easily connect to domestic flights from destinations around the world from under one roof. Additional gate capacity will allow O’Hare’s dual hub partners, United and American Airlines, and their alliance partners to grow at O’Hare, resulting in greater connectivity and competitive pricing for travelers.

“Throughout its history, Chicago architecture has always brought form and function together and is the reason why Chicago is known as the ‘City that Works’.  We at the United family are thrilled to see that tradition continue and another gem added to Chicago’s architectural crown with the unveiling of the new design for one of the city’s most important landmarks: O’Hare,” said Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines. “This selection is the result of a collaborative process that has elicited a talented team of architects with a vision for a modern O’Hare – one that mirrors the vital role it will play in the future growth of the City as well as improving the service to the millions of customers who will get to enjoy the airport’s world-class amenities and architecture.”  

The O’Hare Global Terminal is valued at $2.2 billion and is currently slated to break ground in 2023. The City will work with its airline partners to ensure a timely, cost-efficient delivery of the new O’Hare Global Terminal and throughout the entire $8.5 billion terminal capital program.

“This selection ensures that O’Hare’s future is bright as an airport leading globally in design, amenities and the customer experience,” said American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. “American is appreciative of the thoughtful approach our partners at the City of Chicago brought to this process and we look forward to our continued collaboration.” 

The search for a lead architect was launched by a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in June 2018, wherein 12 teams submitted Statements of Qualifications. A Request for Proposals (RFP) followed in November 2018 to the five teams that were shortlisted based on the city's evaluation: Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza Joint Venture Partners; Foster Epstein Moreno Joint Venture Partners; Santiago Calatrava LLC; Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM); and Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners.

“After an intensive procurement process, the City has selected the top scoring team to deliver the design for O’Hare Global Terminal,” said Chief Procurement Officer Shannon E. Andrews. “We are excited that the winning team has committed to substantial mentor-protégé agreements as part of their plan, to ensure that local firms will benefit from the economic activity of this major project.”

The O’Hare terminal expansion program 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.

The firm with the highest cumulative score was selected by an evaluation committee in accordance with the RFP, available here. The RFP called the lead architect to be selected based on multiple criteria, including its ability to meet budget and schedule requirements, airport regulatory requirements, and local participation requirements. Additional criteria included sustainable design plans which required that the O’Hare Global Terminal and Global Concourse be built to qualify for a minimum of LEED Gold Status.

The evaluation committee was comprised of a diverse group of members with experience in terminal construction, airport operations, architecture, planning and budget, and small and local business affairs. Each evaluation committee member volunteered countless hours of time and committed to the professional standards of the RFP Evaluation Guidelines. Collectively, the evaluation committee represents experience of working at over 100 airports throughout the U.S. and internationally. 

This project created a unique opportunity for public feedback, and an unprecedented level of transparency as part of the City’s first terminal design competition. 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

Since 2011, Mayor Emanuel has made it a top priority to ensure Chicago’s airports are not only some of the busiest, but are among the best in the world. By introducing some of the biggest capital projects underway in U.S. Aviation, the Emanuel Administration has worked to improve capacity, connectivity and efficiency across both O’Hare and Midway International Airports. More than $11 billion in airfield, passenger terminal and infrastructure investments have been approved at Chicago's airports under Mayor Emanuel’s tenure. These investments will create new opportunities for residents, including tens of thousands of new jobs and other long-term economic opportunities to benefit Chicagoans for years to come.

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About the Chicago Department of Aviation:

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) is self-supporting, using no local or state tax dollars for operations or capital improvements at O’Hare and Midway International Airports. Chicago’s airports offer service to over 260 nonstop destinations worldwide, including 47 foreign countries, combined. Together, Chicago’s airports serve more than 100 million passengers each year, and generate approximately $60 billion in annual economic activity for the region. Please visit to learn more about the Chicago Department of Aviation. 

About Studio ORD:

Studio ORD is a joint venture comprised of the following firms: Corgan Associates, Inc., Milhouse Engineering and Construction, Inc., STL Architects, Inc., Solomon Cordwell Buenz & Associates, Inc., and Studio Gang Architects, Ltd.