Message - Re: Help on Airport Design!!!!!!

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Posted by  Michael Ellis on November 21, 2003 at 14:12:30:

In Reply to:  Help on Airport Design!!!!!! posted by vaibhav on November 21, 2003 at 10:09:12:

You are entering into a very complex market area.

The FAA (US) has what are called advisory circulars that are a good starting point. Of special notice are the 150 series that should be available through the FAA web site. Also look at associaton web sites, the can provide you with some info. Look at some of these web sites,the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), Airport Consultants Council (ACC), Airports Council International (ACI), and some airport architects such as CTI consulting, HNTB, HOK, SOM, TAMS, TransSolutions, Ross & Baruzzini. Also see if you can’t get an appointment with a local A/E firm that does airports. Go in and get as much info as you can on airport terminal design. Ask to see drawings and documents to get an idea of what is involved. If they are nice they may even give you copies of their reference materials.

Now for a short/long description of the terminal design process (from a US airport perspective):

Master Planning
You start with developing or acquiring an existing airport master plan that outlines the airports current condition and projected capacity, facility, and airfield needs over a 5-10-20 year period (Search on-line for airports that post their master plans on-line or see about getting one from your local airport). Sometimes airports develop separate terminal master plan documents and others incorporate them into the overall airport master plan. The master plans look at demographics, airfield operations, financials, etc and are broad in nature. Airports in the US are required to have updated master plans every 5 years. They are usually accompanied by what are called airport layout plans or ALP. These drawings show how all the elements on the airport property are laid out and how they relate to one another. One of the drawings will show the ultimate airport based on the findings of the master plan and will include expansion or new terminal locations. It is critical that these drawing are used to locate or expand the terminal because they have been developed, coordinated, and approved by the FAA for safe aircraft and navigation operations.

Terminal Programming
Architects take the master plans and go through what is called an airport terminal programming phase which is a refinement of the terminal master plan. In this stage the architect establishes detailed functional and operation space needs of the airport users. This includes inventory and interview with EVERY user of the airport...and that can be many companies. (Concessionaires are on-airport retail providers and airports sometimes pay for what are called concessions master plans, try to get these as well as they define existing and future needs in similar fashion to the airport master plan. Although virtually impossible to get are individual airlines documents on their airport operations.) OK back to the terminal programming phase. The final product of this effort is a breakdown by company, division, and function describing space needs, utility needs, and interface needs with other companies, divisions etc. Keep in mind that from the early planning stages to final construction on airports ranges from 3-7 years so the information on the terminal program documents should reflect in some manner the original master plan that outlines the airport growth or decline over the 5-10-20 year period. Keep in mind that security is a key driver of terminal design and you need some knowledge in this area. I am not sure you can get the document but one titled “Recommended Security Guidelines for Airport Planning, Design, and Construction (DOT/FAA/AR-00/52 is fantastic. Do a lot of searching of firms that do master planning and terminal design; they sometimes have documents that you can glean design concepts off of. Keep the following four factors in the back of your mind at all times, these factors drive the design and success of an airport terminal; Safety, functionality, passenger comfort, and revenue generation.

Airport Design Phase
Now is the time to research the various standards and regulations and the list is very long. From the US airport market you always start with NFPA, and the airports recognized building code. Look at the FAA advisory circulars 150 series on the FAA web site to download. Most regional airports will have at least three layers of Architects, Engineers, and airport consultants. Large airports can have ten or more including airport system manufacturers. Throw in the fact that some airport projects hire from the global market and you have a terminal design team that covers just about every discipline and firms from no less than four countries.

Airport Construction Phase
Usually takes 2 years for regional airports, 3 or more for international airports. This is where some architect firms fail to maintain on-site and full time project support. If you don’t have a close involvement your original design may go out the door. Contractors love to take the shortest routes and may run a duct right through your pristine design.

Have I scrambled your question? Sorry, I just finished working on an international airport project and it is so complex. I spent 7 years on it and it is still not completed.

Best Regards,
Michael Ellis

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