Chicago Reveals Shortlist for $8.5B Airport Project


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced the shortlist for the teams vying for the $8.5 billion O’Hare 21 Terminal Expansion Project at O’Hare International Airport.

The teams include: Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza Joint Venture Partners; Foster Epstein Moreno JV Joint Venture Partners; Santiago Calatrava LLC; Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM); and Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners.


Emanuel launched the Request for Qualifications for the project to architects all over the world in June.

“This is an opportunity to write the next chapter in Chicago’s legacy of architectural ingenuity, while sharing the iconic architecture and design Chicago is famous for with visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Emanuel at the time.

"When Chicago opened O’Hare 59 years ago, we positioned our great city at the heart of the national aviation system. Today, the city that makes no little plans is securing our position at the forefront of global cities for the 21st century."

The expansion was approved by city council back in April, with the biggest piece of the puzzle being that the 55-year-old Terminal 2 will be torn down to make room for a new global terminal with wider concourses and gates that could accommodate larger aircraft intended for international flights. Terminals 1, 3 and 5 are set to be renovated, with two new satellite concourses to be built and connected to the new global terminal via an underground pedestrian tunnel.

More than 3.1 million square feet of terminal space will be added, a 72 percent increase over the current 4.3 million square feet.

Once construction of the air field is completed, O’Hare will operate six east-west runways and two diagonal runways, resulting in dozens of new gates opening over the next eight years. The expansion is also slated to include a new parking and security screening facility for airline employees, a Terminal 5 parking garage and three new baggage systems.

Emanuel’s office says that the project “will create more than 60,000 construction jobs for the next eight years, and tens of thousands of new permanent jobs with the airport, airlines, tourism and supporting industries to support a larger, modern airport complex in the next decade.”

What Now

The city received bids from a dozen groups. (Those that did not make the shortlist include notable names such as Bjarke Ingels Group, Perkins + Will, HOK and Grimshaw Architects.)

asoldman / Getty Images

The city received bids from a dozen groups. (Those that did not make the shortlist include notable names such as Bjarke Ingels Group, Perkins + Will, HOK and Grimshaw Architects.)

The shortlisted teams are now invited to participate in a Request for Proposal for Lead Architectural Design Services. Through the RFP process, this winter, each team will submit a design model that will be showcased at various locations throughout the city.

In the coming months, the city will seek public feedback on the design concepts presented by each of the finalist teams.

“Through this once in a lifetime opportunity, the City of Chicago is inviting the global design community as well as the voices of residents to enhance the future of Chicago-O’Hare,” said Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee.

“As we work to elevate O’Hare to compete globally, we have asked teams for a commitment to mentoring small local firms, too. In doing so, our goal is to involve Chicago’s business community in an unmatched opportunity to gain valuable experience on a project of international proportions.”

Transportation, business and civic leaders from the city will make up the official selection committee with additional advisors leading architectural firms, cultural and academic institutions and local businesses also providing their recommendations.


Tagged categories: Airports; Architects; Asia Pacific; Bidding; Contests; Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; Terminals

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