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

Cobb high school student allegedly exposed himself, dragged girl into bathroom
Cobb high school student allegedly exposed himself, dragged girl into bathroom

A North Cobb High School student allegedly exposed himself to a female student and dragged her into a boy’s bathroom last week, authorities said. Brian Salinas, 17, of Kennesaw, is being charged as an adult, Channel 2 Action News reported.  He allegedly grabbed a girl “by the arm and dragged her into a boys bathroom” where...
WEDNESDAY’S WEATHER-TRAFFIC: Temps will remain well above average as North Georgia stays dry
WEDNESDAY’S WEATHER-TRAFFIC: Temps will remain well above average as North Georgia stays dry

Wednesday: High: 92 Wednesday night: Low: 72 Thursday: High: 92 The average temperature this time of year is 81 degrees. After all, Saturday is the first day of fall. However, this week hasn’t been average at all. Just like Monday and Tuesday, the next three days should all be at least 10 degrees warmer than normal, Channel 2 Action...
APD sergeant awarded $100K from Forsyth County after false DUI arrest
APD sergeant awarded $100K from Forsyth County after false DUI arrest

An Atlanta police sergeant was awarded more than $100,000 of Forsyth County taxpayer money after a lawsuit was settled last week because he was erroneously arrested for a DUI, Channel 2 Action News reported.  In August 2017, Sgt. Paul Sparwath called 911 when he saw some teenagers acting suspiciously in his Forsyth County neighborhood and possibly...
GBI artist hopes facial reconstruction will help ID remains found in Buford
GBI artist hopes facial reconstruction will help ID remains found in Buford

Human remains found in the Buford area have gone unidentified since they were discovered in 2015. However, a GBI forensic artist hopes a new model will trigger someone’s memory, Channel 2 Action News reported. “I just have a good feeling about it,” the GBI’s Kelly Lawson said of her 3D facial reconstruction. RELATED: Gwinnett...
School crossing guard hit while directing traffic; driver allegedly using phone
School crossing guard hit while directing traffic; driver allegedly using phone

A crossing guard at North Hall High School was hit by a vehicle while she was directing traffic Tuesday, a school system spokesman told AJC.com. Ashley Parr, 21, of Gillsville, was struck by a vehicle because a driver was allegedly distracted by his phone, and she was thrown 12 to 15 feet onto the road, Georgia State Patrol said in a news release....
More Stories