Firm Tapped for $2.2B Piece of O'Hare Project


The architecture team that will be responsible for leading the design of the bulk of O’Hare International Airport’s $8.5 billion expansion program has been named.

The office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel announced last Wednesday that firm Studio ORD has been selected for the task. The city is now entering into contract negotiations with the joint venture, which includes Corgan Associates Inc., Milhouse Engineering and Construction Inc., STL Architects Inc., Solomon Cordwell Buenz & Associates Inc. and Studio Gang Architects Ltd.

The announcement comes just a week after the city celebrated the groundbreaking of the $1.5 billion expansion of O’Hare International Airport’s Terminal 5—just one piece of the massive “O’Hare 21” renovation project.

The Project

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 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.

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.)

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.

And design peeks were issued in January. ORD’s design features a giant atrium with 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,” officials said in January.

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

What Now

“After an intensive procurement process, the City has selected the top scoring team to deliver the design for O’Hare Global Terminal,” said Chief Procurement Officer Shannon E. Andrews.

“We are excited that the winning team has committed to substantial mentor-protégé agreements as part of their plan, to ensure that local firms will benefit from the economic activity of this major project.”

Dubbed the Global Terminal project, this facet of the master plan is valued at $2.2 billion and is currently slated to break ground in 2023.


Tagged categories: Airports; Architecture; Color + Design; Color + Design; Contract awards; NA; North America; Terminals

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