Shortlist Designs for O'Hare Project Revealed
Plans for the massive $8.5 billion expansion project at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport have taken another step forward as the shortlist of architects have all released their first take on designs.
“As the [city] that makes no little plans, Chicago is taking a bold step forward to choose the architect team that will set the course for O’Hare’s biggest transformation yet,” said Emanuel. “This design competition celebrates our tradition of innovation and world-leading architectural history. As we move forward with the O’Hare expansion, we invite our residents and travelers to weigh in on one of the largest terminals in the country.”
“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 the 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.
The design from Foster Epstein Moreno JV Joint Venture Partners also poses a glassy roof that is textured with arches and grids.
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.”
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.)
Wrapped around an atrium, the design from Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners features greenery and wood elements.
The five that made the cut for the shortlist, announced in November, included 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.
Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza Joint Venture Partners – This design features a swooping skylight roof with glass walls, clean lines and a mostly white aesthetic. “Daylight and spatial composition guide passengers intuitively and purposefully. The latest technological advances shape a smart, seamless, comfortable and unencumbered experience,” the company said in its release. “Our vision is to return the romance of air travel to all who pass through Chicago’s O’Hare.”
Also going for glass walls and a skylight roof, the design from Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill merges some green elements as well.
Foster Epstein Moreno JV Joint Venture Partners – This design also poses a glassy roof that is textured with arches and grids. “Three arches frame the landside of the building, merging into a grand single arch on the airside, thus dissolving the barrier between inside and out and allowing the spectacle of the airfield to be visible to all who pass through the gateway, and recapturing the romance associated with air travel,” the firm said.
Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners – Wrapped around an atrium, this design features greenery and wood elements. “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,” the firm said. “This confluence becomes Orchard Field—a vibrant neighborhood that combines abundant green spaces with distinctive landmarks, bespoke retail pavilions, and diverse activity zones.”
Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill – Also going for glass walls and a skylight roof, this design merges some green elements as well. “We infuse the muscular heritage of Chicago architecture and engineering with many lessons from the natural environment, to increase human comfort, save energy and define a distinctive sense of place,” the firm said.
Santiago Calatrava – This firm went above and beyond: In addition to submitting designs for the terminal, the firm also rendered a complex that would remake the site of parking facilities directly adjacent to the space with a white terminal roof extended over some of the outside design. “With a glass façade and dramatic shell-like roof soaring over the approach road, the building unifies the terminal complex while establishing itself as its centerpiece,” the firm said. “Inside, vaulted, light-filled spaces celebrate both the grandeur and simplicity of bygone travel as customers move easily to and from gate areas enlivened by Chicago-focused concessions in an airy, park-like setting.”
Chicago intends to select two design teams: one to design the O’Hare Global Terminal and Concourse and the other to design two new satellite concourses.