O’Hare 21 design team in place

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The City of Chicago has announced the design team for its O’Hare 21 program, the largest expansion and first major capital improvements to the airport’s passenger terminals in over a quarter of a century.

The City’s contract with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to design two new satellite concourses immediately west of the terminal core has been finalized, while HNTB has been selected to serve as the lead civil engineer. SOM and HNTB join Studio ORD – the lead architect tasked with designing the new O’Hare Global Terminal – on the design team tasked with transforming the airport.

“Having our three lead designers in place and working in parallel is a critical moment for the overall success of the O’Hare 21 program,” said Chicago Department of Aviation commissioner Jamie L Rhee. “With Studio ORD and SOM providing inspiration above ground and HNTB lending their considerable expertise below ground, we have assembled a team of unparalleled vision and talent, and every traveler who uses O’Hare will benefit.

“We are committed to continuing to work closely with our federal and airline partners to build a new O’Hare on schedule and on budget, all while maintaining the safe operations at the world’s busiest airfield. All three designers will contribute significantly to this goal through their designs and input to detailed implementation plans in conjunction with the broader O’Hare community.”

O’Hare 21 will see the new Terminal Area Plan (TAP) completely redevelop the existing Terminal 2, add two new concourses, replace and expand aircraft gates, and set in motion a wide range of other improvements designed to enhance airline performance and the overall passenger experience.

The project will be delivered in phases, with an expanded Terminal 5 representing the first major terminal upgrade at O’Hare. Construction of the satellite concourses and supporting infrastructure will follow, beginning in 2022. Once the satellites are online, construction of the O’Hare Global Terminal can begin, replacing Terminal 2.

The program also includes enhancements to integrate Terminals 1 and 3 into the O’Hare Global Terminal to enable seamless passenger connections. O’Hare 21, the US$8.5bn project to modernize O’Hare’s terminals, follows the successful delivery of the O’Hare Modernization Program that transformed O’Hare’s runway system and reduced aircraft delays.

O’Hare 21 is projected to directly create more than 60,000 jobs over the course of the program. The overall regional economic impact will be greater, with a growing O’Hare expected to contribute at least US$50bn to the region, and to generate at least 460,000 regional jobs in the next eight years.


Don’t miss Dominic Grasacia, project manager O’Hare Global Terminal, City of Chicago, Department of Aviation, discuss the future of O’Hare International Airport at Passenger Terminal CONFERENCE on Tuesday, March 31 at 9:35am as part of the Airport Design, Planning & Development stream. The full conference program can be found here. 

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Tara has worked for UKi Media & Events since 2013, initially as a freelancer. She has been a journalist for over a decade and has worked for a range of publications, including Personnel Today, Management Today and The Grocer.

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