Airport Terminals

What will we find at the airport of the future?

What will the airports of the future be like?

We hope to find movie theaters, art galleries, salons, and someplace to do laundry.

Fentress Architects asked architecture students from around the world what they thought about the airport of the future for its annual Fentress Global Challenge (FGC), This year’s competition challenged students to envision airport mobility in the year 2100.

Students could choose between locating their terminals at an existing airfield, such as at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL), or at a yet undeveloped site.

“Various modes of transport were explored including pods for intra-airport transport.  Mag-lev cars, drones, hyperloops, hydrofoils, and air-rails were among the methods of inter-airport transport proposed,” Fentress reports. “Additionally, several different types of aircraft were studied including anti-gravity, vertical take-off, rockets, and spaceships.”

Entries were evaluated on five criteria, including technology and sustainability. Some submissions envisioned airports that would be able to create their own biofuel from algae and symbiotic bacteria. Others created floating structures that sought to restore coral reefs and ocean ecosystems. 

Here are images from the ten shortlisted entries. A jury of renowned airport architects, directors, planners, and scholars will announce a winner on December 1, 2021, and there will be cash prizes for First, Second, and Third Place.  Two People’s Choice Awards will be given, so you can cast your vote here.

What’s in store at Pittsburgh Intl Airport’s new terminal?

Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) has broken ground on a new $1.4 billion new terminal building.

The project is the first new airport to be built from the ground up in the post-pandemic world. And it would be a big deal even if we weren’t coming out of a travel-stopping pandemic.

With the new facility, Pittsburgh International Airport is promising many new “airport of the future” features and amenities. Highlights include 90,000 square feet of outdoor terraces, a rainwater harvesting program, and emerging touchless technology.

Even better, the new terminal will be super-green and powered by the airport’s own microgrid, which is fueled by 10,000 solar panels and five natural gas generators.

Does this sound like an airport you can’t wait to visit? The terminal won’t be completed until 2025. But in the meantime, here are some of the renderings of the new building that have been shared around so far.

We’re loving all the greenery.

Airport Lobster and other great amenities

Airports are still spending lots of time and energy reminding passengers to wear their masks, wash their hands, and observe social distancing protocols.

But we are pleased to see that airports are also getting back to the business of promoting (OK, showing off) some great, unusual, and much-appreciated amenities.

Here a few that popped up on Twitter just today:

*Free goodies, including historic postcards from Jacksonville International Airport (JAX):

*The return of lobster for sale at Canada’s Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ);

*A two-fer from Sacramento International Airport (SMF) – a reminder of their “Flying Carpet” offering a birds-eye view of the area and their convenient CVS vending machine:

*And the news from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) that the Flight Path Museum will be reopening August 7.

Know of a great airport amenity we could be celebrating? Drop a note in the comments section and we’ll check it out.

Pittsburgh Int’l Airport goes off the grid

A few years ago, there were some major power outages at airports that wreaked havoc with air travel in those regions.

The list of airports affected was not inconsequential.

Power outages and equipment failures affected Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Washington’s Reagan National Airport (DCA), and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

New York’s LaGuardia Airport also got hit. And so did John Wayne Airport in Orange County, CA, Philadelphia International Airport, and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. New Orleans International Airport lost power twice due to high winds associated with Tropical Storm Olga.

And in response, some airports moved ahead with plans to go off the grid and create their own independent electricity sources, or microgrids.

Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) was one of those airports. And in 2019 PIT declared its intention to become the first major U.S. airport to create a self-sufficient energy system – or microgrid. Their plan includes using only energy sources (solar and natural gas) from its own property.

PIT made good on its promise and this week, becoming the first airport in the world to be completely powered by natural gas and solar energy from its own, now-live microgrid.

Crews started construction in July 2020 and completed the project on schedule even as the pandemic stalled the aviation industry last year.

The power generated at PIT by its microgrid is now the primary power supply for the entire airport.

This includes the terminals, the airfield, a Hyatt hotel, and a Sunoco station. The microgrid will generate power from onsite natural gas wells and 9,360 solar panels across eight acres.

The airport remains connected to the traditional electrical grid as an option for emergency or backup power if needed.

We are declaring this our Airport Amenity of the Week.

Celebrities welcome you to Miami Int’l Airport

Here’s another sign that the world of travel is moving back towards normal:

Miami International Airport (MIA) is bringing back celebrity welcome messages to its public address system.

The Voices of MIA program launched in 2019 and featured the voices of local celebrities including Miami Heat stars Alonzo Mourning and Udonis Haslem, celebrity chef Adrianne Calvo, Grammy-winning producer Emilio Estefan and telenovela star Jencarlos Canela.

The refreshed 2021 series of celebrity welcome messages includes rapper and singer Flo Rida; actor, singer and composer Carlos Ponce; celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein; rapper and TV personality Trina; and celebrity chef and TV personality Chef Pepín. Listen for the messages on MIA’s address system around the clock on a rotating basis.

And if you’re traveling through Miami International Airport, or have friends or family meeting you there or dropping you off, keep in mind this is one of the airports hosting a free COVID-19 vaccination site through July 31.

MIA’s Military Hospitality Lounge recently reopened as well.