San Diego breaks ground on new Terminal 1

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San Diego International Airport (SAN) in California has broken ground on its new Terminal 1, as part of a US$3.4bn development program that will replace the current terminal, improve the airport’s airfield and transportation connectivity as well as build a new facility for the Airport Authority administration.

Construction began on November 1, beginning with the new administration building, delivered by Sundt Construction with Hok as the lead architect. This building will be the first to be completed with an anticipated opening date in late 2023.

The program comprises three components. The terminals and roadways component’s first phase will include 19 gates, an elevated departures roadway, outdoor check-in pavilions, a dedicated, on-airport arrivals roadway and a five-story parking plaza. The earliest opening for the first phase is in mid-2025.

The second phase will open in late 2027 at the earliest and add 11 gates for a total of 30 gates. Both sections will be completed by construction company Turner-Flatiron and Gensler as lead architects.

The airside improvements component is being delivered by the contractors at the Griffith Company and is expected to be completed by mid-2028 at the latest. This section is intended to enable more efficient aircraft movements and ground traffic flow for the new terminal.

The new T1 will also feature pre- and post-security passenger connectors to Terminal 2; a new parking plaza that will provide up to 5,200 parking spaces; an expansive security checkpoint with 13 lanes; an outdoor patio area post-security providing views of the airfield, San Diego Bay and downtown; up to two airline or common-use lounges; and a children’s play area. Six artists have been commissioned to create integrated, site-specific public art for The New T1 and the façade is being designed by artist James Carpenter.

A distinctive feature of the T1 project is a three-lane on-airport access roadway that will take traffic from Laurel Street directly to the airport, reducing 45,000 vehicles a day on Harbor Drive. A dual-level roadway and curb front to separate arriving and departing passenger traffic with an elevated departures roadway and curbside check-in will also be integrated. The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority has also preserved a space for a future transit station, giving the airport more direct accessibility.

The entire project will incorporate energy and water conservation and clear air initiatives. Electric vehicle charging infrastructure, a bicycle and pedestrian path on Harbor Drive, bicycle parking spaces, airfield improvements resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions, an underground fuel-delivery system, and a stormwater capture and reuse system are included in the plans.

The new T1, along with the rest of the airport, will be powered by 100% renewable, carbon-free electricity. Through these efforts, the airport’s goal is to achieve the US Green Building Council’s LEED Gold certification for the project.

The airport is projected to have an economic impact of US$12bn on the region and create between 15,000 and 20,000 construction-related jobs. The program intends to maximize opportunities for small, local and veteran-owned small businesses and disadvantaged business enterprises. Through the airport’s small business development program, the contract value distribution goals are 25% of subcontract value awarded to small businesses enterprises, 80% of subcontract value awarded to local businesses and 3% to subcontract value awarded to veteran-owned small businesses.

Gil Cabrera, airport authority board chair, said, “We are thrilled to commemorate this historic day and celebrate the tremendous planning effort that went into reaching this point. I’m proud of the Airport Authority team and their unwavering commitment to bring San Diego a new Terminal 1. The airport is often the first and last impression we get to make as a city, and I can assure you the new T1 will be something that the region can be proud of.”

Kimberly Becker, airport authority president and CEO, said, “Our goal has always been to ensure that San Diego International Airport provides a first-class experience for our customers, and the New T1 will ensure we continue to do that for decades to come. Today’s groundbreaking is the culmination of years of planning and collaboration with stakeholders and the greater San Diego community. This is truly your airport and I’m so excited that this day has finally come.”

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