airport architecture

Atlanta International Airport shows off lighted canopy

Hatsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport recently tested the lighting on the first three sections of its North Terminal canopy.

ATL Airport - green canopy

This canopy is one of a half dozen major construction projects under way at ATL as part of a major 20-year long development program, dubbed ATL Next, that the airport says is designed to boost capacity, renew and replace existing facilities and “enhance ATL’s aesthetic appeal.”

There will be canopies in front of the North and South passenger terminals and the full length of each canopy will be covered in a plastic material that will be able to be illuminated in different colors and patterns by thousands of embedded LED lights.

Work on the ATL’s North Canopy should be done by the fall. The South canopy is expected to be completed in Fall 2019.

The airport did a test run on the lights on part of the North Canopy last week. Neutral white light is expected to be the default color but on special occasions the canopies will be illuminated to mark specific events such as red, white and blue to honor Independence Day.

Other options already under consideration: red and black to celebrate a Falcons Super Bowl victory, or green to mark Earth Day.

Of course, ATL isn’t the first to get a cool lighted architectural feature.

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport has the “Sky’s the Limit” underground neon walkway.


Detroit Metropolitan Airport has a lighted tunnel.


And Los Angeles International Airport has lighted pylons at it entrance that are often lit up in different color patterns to honor a holiday or special event.

What other cool lighted architectural features at airports should we add to this list?

The charming chairs of Changi Airport’s new Terminal 4

From the self-service check-in and bag drop stations to the centralized security zone, plethora of shopping and dining options, art and other amenities, there’s plenty to love about Singapore Changi Airport’s new Terminal 4, which opened to the public on October 31, 2017.

I’m putting together a full report on what is certain to be yet another award-winning feature of Changi Airport, but right now let’s just take a photo tour of the chairs.

Comfortable and eye-catching, these are certain to be the backdrop of countless passenger selfies.

Here a few more seating snaps from my tour of the terminal on opening day.

These seats are on the landside area of the terminal.

And these post-security chicks and pups are seating strong enough to hold adults.










Airport body scanners: invading your personal space & the terminal space

I spent much of the day yesterday writing a column for about the pros and cons of airport body scanners.

That column, which posts Thursday, January 14th, 2010, focuses on some of the privacy issues surrounding the “virtual strip search” aspect of these machines.

I didn’t have room for in the story for the comments of airport terminal planner and designer, Pat Askew, from Perkins+Will.

We don’t think of it right away, but Askew points out that these big, expensive body scanner machines will not only change the TSA procedures, but also have an impact on the look and layout of present – and future – airport terminals.

Askew says:

  • Body scanning machines take more space, especially width-wise, than do the current magnetometers (or walk-through metal detectors).  It’s already hard to find space in existing terminals for all the necessary equipment they needs to be there;
  • Processing rates are greater with body scanners than with metal detectors. This means longer lines, more machines – and more required space;
  • Explosive detection devices for carry-ons will soon be required. This equipment will be smaller, but similar to the technology currently used for checked luggage. It will replace the current x-ray machines used to examine carry-ons and operate in much the same way, but may be larger and slower….and need more space.

So next time you’re Stuck at the Airport, take a good look around. That great piece of public art in the terminal may soon need to make way for a hulking piece of security equipment.