Chicago O’Hare Airport opens Terminal 5 expansion

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Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Illinois has expanded the eastern wing of Terminal 5. Passenger amenity space has increased by 75%, and the existing building has been expanded by approximately 32,500m2, with additional renovations to 69,700m2 of the existing structure. This extension forms part of the airport’s US$1.3bn, four-year investment to expand and modernize ORD. Crews broke ground on the modernization of Terminal 5 in 2019, with construction led by Austin Power Partners. The project has reportedly increased the terminal’s capacity by 25% to improve efficiency and reduce delays.

HOK and Muller & Muller redesigned the terminal’s vaulted ceilings to include natural light and views across the airfield toward the Chicago skyline. Sustainable technology has been incorporated throughout the terminal, including water efficiency measures, roofing and 3,700m2 of environmental glass. The L-shaped East Concourse extension has also added 10 new wide-body gates, nine of which use multiple aircraft ramp systems (MARS) for gates. These MARS gates create the flexibility to accommodate larger, wide-body aircraft or more traditional narrow-body aircraft. The space it takes to park two wide-body airplanes can be repurposed as necessary to fit three narrow-body aircraft.

Credit: Chicago Department of Aviation

In June 2022, crews also broke ground on a new six-story parking garage at Terminal 5 to replace the current surface Parking Lot D. When completed in 2024, the garage is expected to double the amount of available parking at the terminal and expand capacity to offer a mix of short- and long-term parking options, like those available at the airport’s main terminals. The garage will also feature parking assist technology and electric vehicle charging stations. Additional landside developments will include the re-striping of airport roadways to rebalance lane capacity and an expansion of the curbside area, including physical drive lanes, dedicated entry and exit roadways, escalators and pedestrian areas.

The Terminal 5 project also included a partnership between the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) on a US$3.5m public art plan as part of the Terminal 5 expansion and modernization. Commissions are planned across the FIS arrival corridor, the baggage claim area, and the Passenger Level N Concourse. The first installation of this project will be by artist Jina Valentine, titled A Murmuration, in the Passenger Level Concourse, followed by an exhibition featuring 17 artist commissions, titled Del Otro Lado / The Other Side in the Terminal 5 arrivals hall. Immigrant Owned, a series of large-scale lightboxes by photographer Jonathan Michael Castillo, will be completed and unveiled later this year.

The expanded and renovated areas of Terminal 5 will also be home to a wide array of new concessions. In May 2022, the Chicago City Council approved a set of concessions agreements at O’Hare, including several local offerings such as Butcher and the Burger, Hampton Social, Bar Siena and Sparrow Coffee. These agreements will have an Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (ACDBE) participation rate of 40%. The concessions are expected to open in phases throughout 2023. Overall concessions in Terminal 5 currently achieve an ACDBE participation rate of 44.8%, up from 33.5% at the project’s start in 2019.

The overall Terminal 5 project had a participation rate of 37% for certified minority-owned, woman-owned or disadvantaged businesses contracting with the project’s construction manager at risk (CMR), Austin Power Partners (APP). The Terminal 5 garage project is led by joint venture AECOM Hunt Clayco Bowa as construction manager at risk (CMR) and supported by 60 participating contractors, including 14 minority-owned firms and 14 women-owned firms.

Credit: Chicago Department of Aviation

Lori Lightfoot, Mayor of Chicago, said, “O’Hare is a significant economic engine for our entire region and the first impression of Chicago for millions of visitors every year. That’s why we are especially proud to cut the ribbon to this expanded, modernized Terminal 5, which represents a major milestone in O’Hare’s curb-to-gate transformation into one of the great airports of the 21st century under the O’Hare 21 capital improvement program. Importantly, this project will also build on my administration’s and CDA’s ongoing commitment and efforts to create equitable, economic opportunities for Black and Brown residents, businesses and construction and development firms.”

Jamie L Rhee, the commissioner of CDA, added, “With new gates, increased passenger amenities, a more efficient baggage handling system, and expanded security checkpoints and customs facilities, the state-of-the-art Terminal 5 of today is equipped to handle the growing demand we expect O’Hare to see in the coming years while offering an improved passenger experience. These crucial infrastructure investments will ensure that O’Hare maintains the capacity it needs to move forward with other O’Hare 21 work with minimal impact to operations.”

In October 2022, 10 renovated gates opened in the western wing of Terminal 5 as the new home for Delta Air Lines, which shifted operations from its long­time home in Terminal 2. Delta’s move also included the construction of a new Delta Sky Club between Gates M11 and M14, with more than four times the capacity of the former club in Terminal 2. Chicago’s Sky Club is also Delta’s first to feature boarding on select flights from two gates inside the lounge.

To read more about Delta’s revamped home facility at Chicago O’Hare T5, click here.

Credit: Chicago Department of Aviation

Credit: Chicago Department of Aviation

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