Airport Construction Takes Flight in LA, NY and Chicago

The three largest cities in the U.S. are now also engaged in new airport construction on a massive scale.

Los Angeles, New York and Chicago collectively have international airport construction and improvements in the tens of billions of dollars.

In this blog we’ll explore three unique projects at LAX, JFK, and O’Hare international airports.

Check out the rest of the blog and the podcast below to learn more about these improvements, the players on each project and how your firm’s products or services could contribute to each.

Overview of improvements at LAX

The LAX sign at the entrance to Los Angeles International Airport

Serving about 64 million passengers each year, LAX is looking to modernize its facilities while minimizing traffic congestion for individuals traveling to and from Los Angeles International Airport.

Its Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP) will remove parking Lot C and repurpose the space for use as a new ground transportation network.

LAX Landside Access Modernization Program Overview

What is the LAX LAMP project and what will it entail?

This ground transportation network will consist of 4 major elements:

  • An elevated 2.25 mile Automated People Mover (APM)
  • Intermodal Transportation Facilities (ITF) with parking areas allowing for drop-offs and pick-ups from personal vehicles, buses, shuttles, taxis and ride-sharing services
  • A Consolidated Rent-A-Car Center (CONRAC) which will consolidate the rental car agencies near the airport at one location
  • Comprehensive series of roadway improvements meant to alleviate traffic in and around airport facilities

LAX Improvements FAQs

What is the LAX LAMP project cost?

The LAX APM, ITF and CONRAC improvements are expected to cost $5.5-billion dollars in total.

What is the LAX CONRAC project cost?

The LAX CONRAC project itself is expected to cost $2 billion dollars.

CREDIT: Gateway Los Angeles
Sample CONRAC Rendering – CREDIT: Gateway Los Angeles

When is the LAX Automated People Mover (APM) groundbreaking?

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) broke ground on the APM project in March of 2019 and anticipates that the system will be operational in 2023.

Foundations will be laid in fall 2019.

When is the completion date for the LAX Automated People Mover (APM)?

The APM at LAX is estimated to be completed by 2023.

Tune into the ConstructionWire podcast
for more on these projects and the players involved.

Now we’ll move on to JFK International airport where another much needed modernization is taking place.

An estimated 60 million passengers a year fly through JFK International Airport.

JFK International Airport Terminal 1 Overview

A rendering of the upcoming Terminal 1.

JFK International Airport will undergo a facelift with the development of two new terminals that will replace existing terminals – one at the south end and one on the north.

The cost for the total transformation is expected to eclipse the original $10 billion dollar estimate, weighing in at $13 billion.

For the purposes of this post we’ll focus on the new terminal that anchors the southern end of JFK to be developed by the Terminal One Group Association (AKA TOGA).

JFK International Terminal 1 FAQs

Which firms belongs to the Terminal One Group Association AKA TOGA?

The Terminal One Group Association (TOGA) is an alliance made up of Lufthansa, Air France, Japan Airlines and Korea Air Lines.

When will the Terminal 1 project at JFK International Airport break ground?

The Terminal One project is expected to break ground in spring of 2020.

What is the project cost for Terminal 1?

The Terminal One project at JFK is expected to cost $7 billion dollars.

How many square feet is the Terminal 1 project at JFK International Airport?

The project is estimated to be nearly 3 million square feet.

What is the expected completion date of the JFK Terminal 1 Project?

Completion of this project is expected to occur in 2025.

Who are the architects and engineers on the JFK Terminal 1 project?

PGAL Architects in Houston, Texas are handling the design work on this project, with Atkins North America handling the civil engineering and Walter P Moore as the structural engineers.

Who are the contractors selected for
JFK’s Terminal 1?

The contractors selected for the construction are AECOM/Tishman headquartered in New York and Walsh Group, headquartered in Chicago.

O’Hare Global Terminal and Global Concourse

Finally, we’ll explore improvements at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

The 7600-acre airport was once a factory for fighter aircraft during World War II and now serves roughly 78 million travelers annually.

In an attempt to better serve these travelers, O’Hare is undergoing a modernization, largely aimed at international travelers.

Airport construction at O'Hare
O’Hare International Airport|Shutterstock

The O’Hare Global Terminal and Concourse is part of a larger expansion plan for the 74 year old airport.

While the entire expansion is expected to cost $8.5 billion, the Global Terminal and Concourse itself will cost about $2.2 billion.

O’Hare Global Terminal and Concourse FAQs

When is the groundbreaking for the O’Hare Global Terminal and Global Concourse project?

The global terminal and concourse is expected to break ground in 2023.

How many square feet is the project?

The project will span 2.2 million sq ft.

Who is responsible for the design of the O’Hare Global Terminal and Concourse?

Studio ORD is responsible for the design of the O’Hare Global Terminal and Concourse.

Studio ORD is a consortium made up of Studio Gang, Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB), Corgan, STLarchitects and Milhouse Engineering and Construction.

What is the project cost for the O’Hare Global Terminal and Concourse?

The cost for the new O’Hare Global Terminal and Concourse is expected to be $2.2 billion dollars.

O’Hare Global Terminal and Global Concourse by Studio ORD from Studio Gang on Vimeo.

What is the date of completion for the O’Hare Global Terminal?

The Global Terminal is expected to be complete by 2028.

Who is responsible for the design of the satellite concourses?

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) was awarded the design of the satellite terminals and will follow the Studio ORD template. This aspect of the project is expected to break ground in 2022.

The satellite terminals are expected to cost $1.4 billion

Who are the construction managers on the International Terminal at O’Hare International Airport?

The construction managers on the O’Hare International Terminal are Austin Power Partners, Turner Paschen Aviation Partners and an AECOM/ Hunt Clayco joint venture.

To get developer, designer and contractor contacts for hundreds of airport construction projects, consider a free trial. No credit card required.

Tune into the podcast to learn more about improvements at JFK, LAX and O’Hare International airports.

Podcast Transcript

Luke O’Brien:

Hello listeners and welcome to the seventh episode of the ConstructionWire Podcast.

A podcast that twice a month, takes the blue pencil to the biggest news in the construction market and makes it accessible to you.

I am your host Luke O’Brien and as always this Podcast is made possible by BuildCentral, THE Chicago-based front-runner in construction market research, whose data keeps you ahead in the game and knowledgeable to every opportunity available, whether you are a vendor or supplier, contractor or developer.

And for this week’s episode, we wanted to cover one specific type of project, and this type of project is only unique Big Cities. Cities that are national, and international thoroughfares. 

Cities that have an enormous influx, and out-flux of human traffic on a daily basis. Cities like, for the purposes of this episode, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.

Now you’ll ask what, do these three cities have in common. What kind of construction would be unique to them?

Well the answer, listeners, is that Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, perhaps unsurprisingly, are each home to a very large airport.

In-fact, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and Los Angeles International Airport (or LAX) have all been consistently ranked as 3 of the busiest airports in the United States, if not the World.

And as of 2019, they are no longer only the busiest in terms of foot traffic, and arrivals and departures. As of 2019, O’Hare, John F. Kennedy and LAX are now three of the busiest airports in terms of construction as well.

And today, for you, our audience, we at the ConstructionWire podcast decided to direct our attention, to these three airport expansions, in order to fill you in on their size and scope, the value that they will bring to their respective cities, and to identify what potential opportunities for work they bring with them.

And we’re going to start in Los Angeles with the first project, the LAX Landside Access Modernization Program, clocking in at 5.5 Billion Dollars. Let’s take a look.

The LAX Landside Access Modernization Program. The title of this project is a bit of a mouthful and in the day-to-day it is usually referred to simply as the LAMP or “Lamp” for short.

And I will be using that abbreviation for the remainder of this segment. Now the express purpose of the LAMP project at LAX is simple. It’s whole purpose is to minimize traffic congestion for individuals traveling to and from Los Angeles International Airport.

For anyone who has ever been to Los Angeles, you will realize the importance of this project, it is a nightmare on the highways during rush hour, especially around LAX.

Now how they are proposing to do this, how the LAMP project aims to remedy this, is essentially by removing one of LAX’s largest parking lots, Lot C (as it is known) and repurposing that space for use as a new ground transportation network.

Now, Los Angeles World Airports, the airport authority that owns and operates Los Angeles International Airport, they defined what this ground transportation network would look like in a Project Overview that they released some time ago. We will be sure to include this overview in the show notes should you want to view it for yourself. And to Quote from it-

“The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Landside Access Modernization Program (“Project”) is a new ground transportation network consisting of four major elements.

These elements include:

(1) an elevated, 2.25-mile Automated People Mover (APM)

(2) Two Intermodal Transportation Facilities (ITF) with parking areas allowing for drop-offs and pick-ups from personal vehicles, buses, shuttles, taxis and ride-sharing services

(3) a Consolidated Rental Car facility (CONRAC) which will consolidate the rental car agencies near the airport at one location

and, (4) a comprehensive series of roadway improvements to alleviate traffic congestion in and around airport facilities.”

So they are covering all the bases here, they are proposing a system that can first move individuals, with what they are calling an “Automated People Mover.”

They are going to build two transportation hubs that can move groups of individuals with shuttles, buses and taxis, they will have a space for Rent-a-car agencies to set up shop and they are going to improve the roads.

Sounds pretty comprehensive.

And I would like to briefly focus on the Consolidated Rent-a-car facility portion of this project as well.

The consolidated Rent-a-car facility, or CONRAC as it is usually called, that being it’s acronym, is perhaps the most impressive part of the LAMP project.

If LAMP is expected to cost 5.5 Billion dollars at full build out, the CONRAC facility is expected to constitute 2 Billion of that.

Now you might be thinking that a 2 Billion dollar rent-a-car facility sounds ludicrous, but there is a reason for it’s size.

At the moment, there are around 23 rent-a-car lots operating at LAX, and they are all in disparate locations, they are spread out across the airport.

Obviously it does make sense, if your goal is to minimize traffic and streamline commuting, to consolidate the agencies – however to avoid congestion in the place that they are consolidated in, the facility must be big.

In-fact the CONRAC facility just broke ground last week, with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in attendance, and they are calling the CONRAC facility, quote “…the largest car-rental facility in human history.”

There are other benefits stemming from the LAMP project besides lower traffic congestion as well, especially in terms of the jobs that the project creating.  

Construction on the CONRAC facility portion is expected to create around 1,000 jobs just as it stands alone, but some of the more interesting construction work is being planned for the Automated Peoples Mover portion of the LAMP project.

And just to note, the Automated Peoples Mover goes by the acronym APM, which I will be using. And essentially the APM will be a 2.25 mile long, elevated electric train system, with six stations.

Now groundbreaking for the APM occurred back in March of this year, but construction is expected to last until sometime in 2024 so there is quite a ways to go on it.

Now what caught my eye in particular about the APM was outlined in a June 2019 Press Release on it, issued by Los Angeles World Airports.

The purpose of the press release was to really to announce that demolition had been completed at the site of the APM, but it goes on to discuss the kind of work that will be going into it.

On different buildings that will be built for the APM, they will be utilizing a ton of what they call, quote, “sustainability elements.”

The Maintenance and Storage Facility portion of the APM, which itself will be 111,000-square-feet, will incorporate (LEED) Gold certification, high-Solar Reflectance Index (or SRI) roofing, high-efficiency mechanical and electrical systems, and solar panels. Site work is currently ongoing for it as we speak.

Foundation work for the APM’s elevated guide-way is expected to commence later this fall.

Our next stop is New York, specifically JFK International Airport… which will soon be home to the brand new Terminal 1, a 7 billion dollar initiative being proposed by TOGA, another acronym, that stands for “Terminal One Group Association,” and is comprised of a limited partnership of four international airlines: Air France, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Lufthansa.

 Now what TOGA is essentially proposing here is a brand new airport terminal at JFK.

And they will be replacing the existing Terminal 1 and 2, and extending into some of the space previously occupied by Terminal 3 to do it.

All in all, it is expected that this new terminal will occupy around 2.9 Million square feet, a huge project.

You know while I was researching this project, I was able to find some info on the break down of that square footage as well, there is a webpage dedicated to this project at, that webpage is hosted by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and they outline how over 230,000 square feet of the space will be allocated to retail, dining and other concessions.

The remainder will be utilized to be 23 new gates to the airport, 22 of those gates capable of catering to wide-body aircraft.

And what that means, is that JFK will be getting a huge boost in their ability to charter and host international flights in particular.

That is really the main point of the new Terminal 1 project.

Now our research at the ConstructionWire podcast and BuildCentral does indicate that that project is on-track in terms of its scheduling.

At the moment it is undergoing the planning and design development stage, with groundbreaking and the enabling works expected to take place sometime in the Spring of 2020, that is what our research indicates.

In terms of the design work, PGAL Architects, based in Houston, are handling the design work for this project.

They do have quite a bit of experience in airport-related design, at the moment, they are the lead architects on the New North Concourse at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

And they also handled the now complete Terminal 1 modernization at LAX.

For this project, for the new JFK Terminal 1, they are working alongside Atkins North America, who will be handling the Civil Engineering work, and Walter P Moore Engineers, who will be the Structural Engineers.

Now in terms of the actual design itself, Im looking at the renderings here in front of me now, I think the best description about Terminal 1’s design can be found in an October 2018 article in Dezeen Magazine, written by Eleanor Gibson.

If you’re unfamiliar with Dezeen magazine, they bill themselves as the “The world’s most influential architecture, interiors and design magazine.”

And I do find them a great source for Architecture/Design related news.

Anyways, in the article, Gibson writes in reference to the buildings proposed for Terminal 1, quote-

“Each is intended to be “modern”, light and airy, and provide plenty of public amenities like green areas, art exhibitions, shopping and restaurants. Interior renderings show spaces modelled on well-known places in New York City, like a food hall that references the city’s Chelsea Market, and an elevated walkway called High Line after the popular park.”

And I love that, I think that that captures what is always so great about huge airport projects, they are always emblematic of their respective city as a whole.

Whether they are incorporating design work inspired by the locale or hiring, you know, architects and contractors based in the locale, new airport projects are wholly products of their city, from the blueprints to completion.

And it is no different here in terms of the Terminal 1 JFK project.

Now again, groundbreaking on the first phase of construction for Terminal 1 is expected to be sometime in Spring 2020, and then construction is expected to last through 2025.

Substantial completion will be towards the end of 2025.

And the contractors selected for the construction are AECOM/Tishman, headquartered on Park Ave in New York, and Walsh Group, headquartered in Chicago.

And we’ll give you a sneak peak at some of the major specialties that are looking to be bid-out for this project, and those include:

Baggage Handling Systems, Life Safety, Code and Fire Protection, Telecommunications & Security Systems, Hydrant Fueling Systems, Conveyance Systems (that will be Elevators / Escalators / Moving Walkways and the like), as well as Landscaping, LEED, Lighting, and Interiors.

The final Airport expansion that we will be covering today brings it all back home to Chicago, Illinois, the home-base of the ConstructionWire Podcast and BuildCentral, as well as O’Hare International Airport.

And earlier this year, back in March, ground was broken on what is slated to be an $8.5 Billion Dollar overhaul of O’Hare, the first phase of which, will be a Billion Dollar (plus) expansion and renovation of Terminal 5, the international Terminal at O’Hare, and we shall start with that.

Just to give you a brief overview on the Terminal 5 Expansion,  I’m going to refer to the website,

They have a great page in the “projects” section of their website dedicated to O’Hare Terminal 5 and I’ll quote-

“Operational since 1993, Terminal 5 is the newest among the four terminals of the airport.

It will be completely overhauled with the addition of ten gates and extension of concourse M.

Additionally, multiple facilities such as passenger amenities, concession areas, and airline lounges will be built.

Existing structures will be expanded without hampering the original architecture and integrity of the terminal. The expansion project will increase the terminal area by more than 350,000ft² and will enable the terminal to handle both domestic and international operations.”

And I would also like to add on top of this just as a side note, it is important to realize that this is the first major improvements project being carried out at O’Hare in more than 25 years and just this phase, just the Terminal 5 Phase of the planned 8.5 Billion dollar over-all project, is already the airport’s biggest improvement project ever.

Now, while the Terminal 5 expansion has already broken ground and is expected to be complete by sometime in 2021 – the next phase of the O’hare overhaul isn’t expected to begin until sometime in 2023, and is even bigger. 

I am talking about The Global Terminal project. I tend to get excited when I talk about this project so bear with me.

The Global Terminal project, instead of being a simple expansion/renovation, like what we were just discussing for Terminal 5 – will instead be something brand new.

Terminal 2 at O’Hare, which is 55 years old, will be completely removed, in order to make way for a 2.2 Million square foot, nature-inspired, sunlit-atrium featuring, international Global Terminal.

Now again, this project isn’t expected to begin until sometime around 2023 and construction is expected to last until around 2028, so it is going to be a long time before we see it come to fruition, but regardless, I am going to share the details of it with you.

Now the design of the Global Terminal is being handled by a consortium called Studio ORD, ORD being a reference to O’Hare’s “Airport Code,” which is O-R-D.

And they are headed by Studio Gang.

Studio Gang is one of the premier architectural firms in the world, they are based in Chicago and headed by Jeanne Gang, who was named the world’s most influential Architect by Time Magazine this year.

So Studio ORD, again is a consortium, lead by Studio Gang and further comprised of the design firms Corgan, Solomon Corwell Buenz (or SCB), Milhouse Engineering and Construction, and STL Architects.

And in order to describe what their design for the Global Terminal looks like, I would like to refer to, which is the web domain for the Chicago Architecture Center, and in the “Past Exhibits” section of their website, they outline the different designs that were presented for the new Global Terminal and I will quote from there in reference to the Studio ORD design, Quote-

“Chicago is a city defined by motion; confluence—of our river, of trail networks, of railroads—has shaped our most vibrant civic spaces.

Studio ORD’s elegant and efficient design for the O’Hare Global Terminal and Global Concourse unifies the airport’s campus by converging seamless lines of motion across three terminals around a spectacular central Oculus.

This confluence becomes Orchard Field—a vibrant neighborhood that combines abundant green spaces with distinctive landmarks, bespoke retail pavilions, and diverse activity zones.

Richly layered and easily navigable, it captures the unique character of Chicago and redefines O’Hare as a 21st century international destination.”

Now it is very early for this project.

Not too many details have emerged, the design selection process for the Global Terminal was shrouded in secrecy, but since Studio ORD was selected, we have also found out who the three construction management teams will be for the Global Terminal as well.

And the three teams selected were Austin Power Partners, Turner Paschen Aviation Partners and a joint venture comprised of AECOM Hunt and Clayco.

And I believe that is all we have time for today, thank you everyone.

I hope you enjoyed the show, We will be back with more content, news and discussion about the world of construction soon.

But in the meantime, If could hit the subscribe button on whatever podcast platform you are using to listen in – whether it’s Apple Podcast, Google Play, Sticher or whatever else and give us a follow – that would be amazing.

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We’ll update this blog as more details come into focus.

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