Exclusive: Kansas City construction update

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At just over one million square feet (92,900m2), the Kansas City International Airport New Terminal is the largest single infrastructure project in the city’s history. Jade Liska, deputy director of the airport’s planning and engineering division, explains what the project entails.

Can you tell us more about how the new terminal will take shape?
The new single terminal will be built on the site of the old Terminal A.  It will take shape in many construction sequences/phases, enabling Terminals B and C to operate independently of the new single terminal construction site.

To achieve this phasing plan required much dialog around the road system and around the security and safety of the passengers and airlines. Allowing for a fully enclosed construction site (around which the traveling public will be diverted) will give the passengers a safe passage to the existing terminals and provide a safe and secure construction site for the workers.

The new passenger facilities were based on separate arrivals and departures curbs that still offering convenience for travelers who park in the garage or require surface parking. A new fully integrated head house/check-in hall provides efficient pass-through, utilizing a single security check-in portal that will take the traveler to the secure airside of the terminal, where concourse concession nodes are aligned, along with 39 gate lounges.

What stage is the project at?
Demolition of Terminal A is wrapping up – building and garage are ‘on the ground’. Materials are being sorted for recycling and concrete being crushed for reuse, as we work toward LEED Gold certification.  Terminal foundation footprints have been cut from existing apron concrete.

How big will the new terminal be and how many passengers will it cater for?
It will have 39 gates, with the capacity to handle 6,698,000 enplanements, and the ability to expand to 50 gates.

Why was the single terminal concept chosen?
When looking at the advantages of a single-terminal design, a smaller terminal footprint with gates on both sides of much of the building enables more efficient airline gate space. Separate levels for arriving and departing flights allow easier passenger pickup and drop-off areas and more efficient vehicular flow.

The new terminal will support more efficient airline operations and allow airport users to enjoy the convenience of modern air travel in a facility with updated technology and amenities, spacious gate areas, and ample food and beverage options. Two moving walkways will expedite transfers between the two concourses, making it easier to navigate the airport. Consolidated and flexible security checkpoints with multiple lanes will accommodate the ebb and flow of passenger volume. The new garage will be adjacent to the terminal with plenty of covered parking.

What will happen to the existing terminals?
Terminal A and its garage have been demolished and the new terminal will cover most of the former site. Terminal B will be demolished, but its garage will continue to be used, for closer-in employee parking. Terminal C and its garage will be demolished.

How have you ensured curb-to-gate walk times for passengers are kept to a minimum?
The 6,000+ space garage will be across the street and arriving and departing passengers and traffic are separated vertically. People movers, escalators and elevators will also aid travelers moving to and from boarding gates.

How will the new facility reflect the local area?
The project team intends to incorporate features that ‘say’ Kansas City. The city is known to many as the City of Fountains. The new terminal will embrace this, and will feature two fountains. There will be opportunities to provide a sense of place through public art and concessions.

Can you tell us about any unique features within the new terminal?
There will be enhanced food and beverage options, local and national specialty shops with convenience and gifts offerings, centralized customer service help desks, and performance areas. The terminal will also feature art installation opportunities, airfield views, inclusive play areas, nursing mothers’ rooms, service animal relief areas and a premium lounge.

How is retail and F&B taking shape?
The quantity and specific cuisine is still to be determined. What is certain is that a mix of local flavors and national brands is planned. The new terminal will also offer a variety of eateries with some featuring table service, while others will offer grab-and-go or counter/café styles.

What challenges did designing the new terminal bring?
The key to any design is to build in a flexible design so that the building will be able to accommodate change. For instance, the Aviation Department and its partners wanted to make sure to accommodate future growth.

The new terminal is expected to open in early 2023. When complete, it will replace the airport’s aging terminals, which opened in 1972.

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