Hartsfield-Jackson canopy intended to create grand entrance to airport


Designers working on plans for canopies over the curbside areas at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport weighed several designs before settling on the plan for massive, steel-framed translucent arched canopies that will light up at night.

The world’s busiest airport more than two years ago asked a team led by architectural firm HOK to figure out how to build canopies over the curbside and roadways on either side of the domestic terminal at the airport. The catch: They had only about a month to come up with the design, said HOK regional leader of engineering Matt Breidenthal.

Architects and engineers brainstormed dozens of ideas for different canopy concepts during a design charrette, then narrowed it down to four potential designs, Breidenthal said.

They included a fabric canopy stretching over the roadway from the garages to the terminal, a tree-like design with a pillar in the middle of the roadway supporting a canopy stretching out from each side over the curbside area, and a canopy with curvy waves.

While a basic lightweight fabric canopy may appear simple and inexpensive to install, Breidenthal said it could be more costly and complex than it seems because the fabric would need to be held taut across the seven lanes of traffic, and would need to be anchored to a structure added to the existing buildings.

The final idea the team settled on was one with a steel frame that creates an archway over vehicles entering the terminal area, and a translucent material for the canopy that can be illuminated with colored lights.

Pedestrian bridges will allow passengers to walk from the garages to the terminal without having to cross the road, an improvement intended to increase safety and reduce traffic congestion.

“It’s not just going to be an architectural icon for the city of Atlanta,” said Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Andrew Gobeil. “It’s going to increase efficiency, it’s going to expedite traffic, it’s going to provide shelter” for pedestrians.

The canopy and other terminal improvements are part of a $265 million construction contract, including work on the canopy, vestibules and terminal exterior, and other work inside the terminal and on the roof.

Yet to be determined is the cost of the pedestrian bridges. An expenditure of $20 million will pay for initial work to place orders for escalators and elevators, but the bridges themselves will require more spending and the total is yet to be determined.

A benefit of the canopy design is that it does not require support structures on the curbside next to the terminal that would require more construction and congestion in a busy area, according to Breidenthal. A key aim was to “minimize how much we were going to disrupt the existing terminal,” he said.

The 65-foot tall canopies are designed to be large enough to allow clearance above the pedestrian bridges, which must be high enough to allow emergency vehicles to pass underneath, Breidenthal said.

Another aim was to create a dramatic entrance to the terminal, transforming it from “processing to procession,” as HOK’s senior design principal Ripley Rasmus describes it.

Many frequent travelers have become accustomed to lane closures for the last year at Hartsfield-Jackson during installation of the concrete piers that causes congestion during peak periods.

Airport officials say they spent months planning for traffic mitigation. Passengers have complained about the relocation of Uber and Lyft pickups, a move the airport said is necessary to reduce congestion at the curbside during construction.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the traffic mitigation requires a “delicate dance” — between police, engineers and construction crews. “I believe the finished product will be worth it,” Reed said.

The terminal North canopy will be completed by May before the terminal South steel goes up with the accompanying road closures, according to Hartsfield-Jackson interim assistant general manager Tom Nissalke.

“From time to time there will be backups, as there are in any airport on occasion, but those backups quickly clear and traffic moves through,” Gobeil said.

Ayden Overson, a traveler from Arizona, said traffic is “expected at an airport,” adding, “I’d rather not have cars go under where they’re putting up that steel.”

Antuan Martinez, a traveler from Miami who came to Atlanta for the Dolphins-Falcons game last weekend, said he noticed the traffic in front of Hartsfield-Jackson.

“In Miami, [the traffic] is more free-flowing,” he said. But, “when there’s any kind of construction, safety comes first,” Martinez said. “The walkway and the canopy — I think it’s a good idea.”

MYAJC.COM: REAL JOURNALISM. REAL LOCAL IMPACT.

AJC Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi keeps you updated on the latest news about Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Delta Air Lines and the airline industry in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in local business news. Subscribe to myAJC.com.

 



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Eagle’s Landing friction: 5 things to know about new proposed Henry County city
Eagle’s Landing friction: 5 things to know about new proposed Henry County city

Leaders of the city of Stockbridge are in a battle with some of their constituents over an effort to form a separate town by breaking away from a portion of the Henry County community. Residents of Eagle’s Landing, comprising a number of largely wealthy neighborhoods in southern Stockbridge, are trying to break away and form a separate city....
Third-graders in Missouri selling raffle tickets for AR-15 weapon
Third-graders in Missouri selling raffle tickets for AR-15 weapon

Selling raffle tickets to benefit an athletic team is not new, but having an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon as the prize is drawing heavy criticism in the wake of the shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 and injured dozens, The Kansas City Star reported. Third-graders in the southern Missouri city of Neosho were selling the tickets to...
John Kasich rips Congress, urges 'common-sense gun laws'
John Kasich rips Congress, urges 'common-sense gun laws'

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who signed laws making it legal to carry concealed weapons at daycare facilities and college campuses, said he has “no confidence” Congress will approve what he called “common-sense gun laws” in the wake of a mass shooting last week at a Florida high school. During an interview Sunday on CNN’s &ldquo...
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter recovering after surgery at Emory
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter recovering after surgery at Emory

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter is recovering at Emory University Hospital after a successful surgery Sunday, according to a statement sent by The Carter Center. She had scar tissue removed from a portion of her small intestine caused by removal of a cyst many years ago and she is expected to stay at Emory a few days, spokeswoman Deanna Congileo...
Police: Uber Eats delivery flees after customer shot, killed in Buckhead
Police: Uber Eats delivery flees after customer shot, killed in Buckhead

A 30-year-old man died of injuries after a shooting in Buckhead that police believe involved an Uber Eats driver. Witnesses told Atlanta police the man ordered food via a smartphone app to be delivered to the 2800 block of Pharr Court South about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Atlanta police spokeswoman Stephanie Brown said. As the man, whose name has not...
More Stories