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Airport Terminal Designs for the Future

A blog by AECOM

When it comes to the design of airport terminals, one thing we can predict with certainty is that something - or everything - will change. We have learned some measures can help realize a vision regardless of changes.

At AECOM, we implement key principles instrumental to a successful project:
  • Develop a flexible yet functional, right size for your design
  • Apply technology to minimize changes
  • Go slow to go fast — be deliberate in your design and construction

These ideas can deliver a terminal that benefits the airport, airlines, and perhaps most importantly, passengers:

Create a strong vision. A strong vision from the start helps maintain focus and consensus over the project’s life. At the outset of the design processes, the design team, client, and stakeholders come to a broad agreement on the elements the team and project must accomplish to be successful. We call them Conditions of Satisfaction (CoS). If you can achieve these, everyone wins.

Right size your project and keep it lean. Market conditions, evolving parameters, and wildcards like the coronavirus pandemic can change everything. Your terminal design should be elastic and able to respond to change. The team must set up a functional and operational program with a terminal configuration that meets project requirements and can handle refinements. This enables the team to focus on controlling design quality, budget, and schedule.

Build the terminal virtually. Software tools enable us to virtually build projects before breaking ground. At AECOM, our designers are skilled at using advanced design tools and robust technology focused on interdisciplinary integration and coordination of building systems, structural components, and the architectural envelope. As a result, the team can assemble the parts in advance of actual construction and minimize costly change orders during construction. In short, build the terminal before you build it.

Go slow to go fast. This may sound contradictory, but being deliberate will enable you to design the terminal once and get it right the first time. Don’t rush. Too often, schedule demands push teams to work quickly, resulting in re-designs and costly changes. Bring the construction team onto the project as early as possible and integrate them into the design process. A team that collaborates can refine the terminal design, improve cost-effectiveness, and ease construction.

Getting it right. Boston Logan International Airport’s Terminal E Modernization project is a great example of applying these principles for a successful large, complex terminal project.

Massport’s vision for Terminal E was conceived as a modern, iconic international passenger terminal with an emphasis on enhanced passenger experience and operational flexibility. Massport provided leadership and focused on a balance of budget, function, terminal operations, and schedule.

The Terminal E Modernization Project, which opened in August 2023, is proof that applying these key principles of a strong, agreed upon vision, flexibility and adaptability, and team collaboration can result in a successful, and beautiful, project.

For the BOS Terminal E Modernization project, AECOM is the prime consultant and architect for the terminal in collaboration during design with our vision architect, luis vidal + architects.

For additional information, please contact 
Terry Rookard, RA, NCARB
Senior Vice President | Principal Architect
T: 781-367-5999
E: terry.rookard@aecom.com