Santiago Calatrava Proposes Soaring Vision For Modernized Chicago O’Hare Airport

A Finalist for the Chicago O’Hare International Airport Expansion Project, Calatrava’s World-class Aviation Concept Features Dramatic Shell-like Roof that Unifies O’Hare’s Central Terminal Area While also Establishing a Singular, Elevated Airport Identity

January 17, 2019 (Chicago, IL) - The City of Chicago has unveiled Santiago Calatrava’s ambitious design proposal for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s O’Hare International Airport expansion competition. Focused on redefining the modern aviation terminal with a masterwork of civic architecture, Calatrava’s striking, comprehensive design calls for combining the O’Hare Global Terminal and Concourse in a singular, iconic building, where all gates are accessed from single central departures hall representing the airport’s new face; a pearl; a truly world-class symbol for Chicago and O’Hare.

Interior of the new Global Terminal

We’re honored to propose a new design for the Chicago O’Hare International Airport, a hub that will serve as the first impression to the vibrant City of Chicago,” says Santiago Calatrava, Principal Architect of Santiago Calatrava LLC. “Our team believes a beautiful, new terminal complex must reflect its citizens and their values, and our sustainable, open garden design evokes a truly magnificent structure that will welcome travelers from all around the world.”

Drawing design inspiration from Chicago’s city seal and motto ‘Urbs in Horto’ or ‘City in a Garden’, Calatrava’s design also includes a verdant garden and convenient access to adjacent terminals, airport satellites and an improved public transit interface. The design concept is anchored by a glass façade and dramatic shell-like roof that soars over the approach road, unifying the central terminal area while also establishing a singular identity for O’Hare. The ‘Y,’ a significant symbol to the City of Chicago derived from the shape of the Chicago River and its branches, is also embedded in the terminal’s core design, forming the important points of access and connection within the main concourse.

In an effort to support the activity and day-to-day logistics of O’Hare, one of the world’s largest airports, a central point for Calatrava’s design of terminal was ease of use, allowing visitors to orient themselves within the space for seamless movement and enjoyment. Utilizing the principles of Universal Design, the concept emphasizes flexible and equitable usage for all. For his O’Hare Airport proposal, Calatrava has assembled a team of nationally and internationally-recognized airport planners, designers, engineers and specialty consultants with respected Chicago-based and O’Hare-experience to support his plan, including architectural design firm HKS and full-service engineering, architecture, construction, environmental and consulting solutions firm Burns & McDonnell.

"Our team planned and designed a truly unique, inspirational and efficient terminal," said Pat Askew, Global Director of Aviation at HKS. "Our concept will offer passengers, airlines and the city of Chicago a world-class experience and an iconic piece of architecture that fits well within the Chicago Department of Aviation's budget."

We’re thrilled to partner with Santiago Calatrava and HKS Architects on this proposed, transformative design for the O'Hare International Airport,” says Brian Quinlan, Burns & McDonnell Aviation & Federal department manager in Chicago.Burns & McDonnell has been a part of the Chicago community for decades and supported hundreds of critical aviation and infrastructure projects across the region. We are proud to contribute to the design — led by Santiago Calatrava — that honors our city’s history, captures our city’s bold spirit and integrates state-of-the-art features that will increase capacity and enhance the passenger experience.”

Santiago Calatrava brings deep experience working in Chicago. In May 2018, Mayor Emanuel together with River Point partners Ivanhoé Cambridge, Hines and Levy Family Partners announced that Calatrava would create a unique and vibrant sculpture to be installed in the park at River Point, an iconic office building located along the Chicago River. In 2005, Calatrava was selected to design a soaring mixed-use residential and hotel tower, called the Chicago Spire Tower. His grandson, whose mother is from Chicago, also has local roots!

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