Raleigh-Durham International Airport has a spectacular new terminal. Carroll McCormick reports.
Reflecting the blue of an evening sky, undulating steel roof sections, evocative of North Carolina’s rolling hills, seemingly levitate on pearly light pouring through glass curtain walls. Inside, arching high above the glass and steel business of 21st Century travellers, wooden roof trusses remind them of the craftsmanship of yesterday’s fine furniture makers.
“When planning this terminal building, we took great care to ensure it reflects the region’s history of craftsmanship as well as its reputation for high-tech innovation. No visitor will enter this terminal without recognizing that the region they have arrived in is rich in culture, history and innovation,” says Raleigh-Durham Airport Director John Brantley.
The airport authority declared Terminal 2 completed this January, nearly eleven years after it began developing a plan to renovate the then-named Terminal C – a plan that evolved into a wholesale replacement of the 1985 structure.
Denver, Colorado-based Fentress Architects designed Terminal 2. The associate architects were Durham, North Carolina-based O’Brien/Atkins Associates and The Freelon Group. Project management was the responsibility of Pasadena, California-based Parsons Transportation Group. The general contractor was Atlanta, Georgia-based Archer Western Contractors.
At 920,000 sq ft (85,471m2), Terminal 2 is nearly three times larger than was Terminal C. Located alongside the 10,000ft (3,048m) Runway 5L/23R, it has a linear design, with 36 gates – ten more than envisaged for Terminal C. The airport authority purchased 16 new ThyssenKrupp jet bridges and 20 new FMC Technologies jet bridges. Concourse C (the north concourse) serves American, American Eagle, Delta, Air Canada and Frontier. Concourse D (the south concourse) serves Continental, United and US Airways.
Inside, Terminal 2 has three ticketing islands, a new baggage handling system and a technology infrastructure that gives airport operators control over the terminal-wide common, or shared use environment.
Terminal C dated from the era of airline-built and owned terminals, in this case, American Airlines’ southeast hub. It fell under the airline’s consolidation axe in 1995 and its new tenant, Midway Airlines, lasted six years before declaring bankruptcy. The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority picked up the pieces for US$30 million and immediately began planning for the terminal’s future.
Dave Powell, Director, Major Capital Improvement Programme, explains why Terminal C could not meet the needs of the region. “When the building was designed, American expected that 80% of its passengers would never leave the concourse because they would be getting off of one plane and onto another. This is one of the reasons we replaced the building. More than 95% of our passengers are origin and destination, so we needed a terminal that had a large ticketing area, as well as a large concourse.”
By 2003 the airport authority decided to totally replace the north concourse, redevelop the ticketing level to include a Federal Inspection Services facility able to process over 400 passengers an hour, and rebuild and renovate portions of the South Concourse. “The North Concourse had been empty since the autumn of 2001 and as a result, construction of the Terminal 2 North Concourse did not impact passengers or airport operations. The construction basically took place “behind the scenes” Powell says.
While that work was under way the Airport Authority reached a decision in December 2006 to expand the scope of the redevelopment to include demolishing and replacing the South Concourse.
Phase I, the replacement of the North concourse with the 550,000 sq ft (51,097m2) Concourse C, was completed in October 2008. Phase II, the demolition and replacement of the South Concourse with the 370,000 sq ft (34,374m2) Concourse D, began the following month. The entire transformation of the terminal, with a total value of US$570 million, was completed just over two years later.
In a departure from the traditional orientation of ticketing counters perpendicular to a terminal’s front walls, Terminal 2 has three ticketing islands oriented parallel to the flow of passengers from the curb to the security checkpoints. (A notable example of this arrangement is the Toronto Pearson International Airport, which the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority examined as part of the Terminal 2 design phase process.)
“We looked at other airports that use the island design, particularly Pearson. The check-in islands decrease congestion in the ticketing area and create a natural passenger flow,” Powell explains.
Terminal 2 has 75,000 sq ft (6,968m2) of airline ticketing space. Each ticketing island has 20 traditional ticketing counters and there are about 60 electronic kiosks. Unlike terminals with counter space dedicated exclusively to specific airlines, Terminal 2 is operated with a common or shared use information technology. IBM built the network and Ultra Electronics Airport Systems installed it.
The common use system lets the airport authority quickly reassign ticketing counters, gates and baggage claim carousels to meet changing requirements. The airport authority reports that this makes the use of space more efficient and reduces operating costs for airlines and tenants.
Personnel in a Resource Management Center operate the common use system, control the movement of aircraft on the ramp and ensure that the airport runs smoothly during irregular or inclement weather. A single information technology infrastructure carries all tenant communication and data. WiFi is available for passengers to use.
FKI Logistix, now Mason, Ohio-based Intelligrated, Inc, built the in-line baggage handling system and the five sloped baggage claim carousels, of which there are two in concourse D and three in concourse C. “This system allows bags to go back into the baggage make-up room and through the screening process on one baggage system. This greatly enhances the efficiency of the process,” Powell says. The BHS, which can process up to 2,400 bags per hour, has nearly 2 miles (3.2km) of conveyor belts.
The airport authority assigned a baggage system team to manage and maintain the BHS. “We wanted to ensure that the public understood that since this was a new system, we were putting safeguards in place to ensure the baggage system ran as it was intended,” adds Powell.
The airport authority has greatly expanded its concessions offerings from the18 shops and restaurants that Terminal C had in 2001, to 40. While there are now many services on the groundside, such as automated teller machines, currency exchange, bag services, Admirals Club and a meditation room, all but three of the retail and food and beverage stores are located airside. This reflects a trend – as post 9/11 airport dwell times for passengers have greatly increased – of putting many more retail and F&B outlets on the airside rather than on the groundside.
RDU spokesperson Mindy Hamlin explains some of the thinking behind the airport authority’s concessions strategy: “In 2001, we had greatly improved our concessions offerings. We learned a lot during this process, and when we were planning for Terminal 2 we wanted to be sure that we built upon our past success. With Terminal 2 we expanded the number of concessionaires we contracted with. Instead of only contracting with prime concessionaires, such as HMS Host, we also developed one-on-one agreements with smaller vendors who could provide us with some unique concepts, such as a high-tech gadgetry store. We also placed a strong focus on local restaurant fare. We have four restaurants that represent the tastes of our region, including Carolina Vintages, a wine bar with a unique, organic menu and a large offering of North Carolina wines.”
Complementing these passenger amenities are several pieces of artwork. “The art in Terminal 2,” says Raleigh Durham airport director of marketing Teresa Damiano, “offers passengers a respite from their travels by providing pieces that are whimsical, fascinating and reflective of North Carolina.”
WHILE TERMINAL 2 is not built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria, the design and construction embraces many green building elements recognizable to anyone familiar with LEED. They include:
• High-performance low-emissivity glass in curtain walls
• Extensive ceramic frit on glass to reduce building heat load
• Extensive use of renewable wood resource for main structural elements
• Low-flow toilet fixtures with automatic water shut-off valves
• Extensive use of terrazzo, a product with low-embodied energy
• Building conditioning through a computerized building management system to maximize energy efficiency
• High-efficiency chillers in central energy plant
• Use of highly recycled carpet and ceiling tile
• Use of low volatile organic compound adhesives, sealants, caulking, paints, coatings, carpet fibre and wood
• Stratified heating and cooling systems to condition air only where occupants are present
• Recycled concrete from demolition of taxiway incorporated into new apron construction
• Recycled demolition materials: eg, steel, concrete, metal panels, from former Terminal C
• Monitoring of carbon monoxide and outdoor air quality to maximize heating and cooling system efficiency
• Point-of-use heating, ventilating and air-conditioning system and ground power system for aircraft parked at the terminal gates, obviating the need for aircraft to use their auxiliary power units
• Pipeline fuel supply system for aircraft eliminates fuel tanker trucks.