Governor Andrew M. Cuomo opened LaGuardia Airport’s Arrivals and Departures Hall to the public on June 13 after four years of construction led by Skanska as part of the LaGuardia Gateway Partners team assembled for the public-private partnership to build and operate the airport’s Central Terminal B facility.
As LaGuardia Airport’s most active passenger hub, Terminal B has welcomed hundreds of millions of travelers to New York. Yet in recent years the aging terminal—first opened in 1964 and handling nearly twice the passengers it was designed to accommodate—had become both undersized and outmoded. Designed by HOK and WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff with design–build contractor Skanska Walsh, the new Terminal B is an efficient and adaptable building created to improve the passenger experience and create a uniquely New York environment for travelers.
The four-story, 850,000-square-foot headhouse facility houses passenger services and amenities, including airline check-in, baggage drop-off and pick-up, and security. New amenities include extensive food, beverage and retail options. An outdoor dining area offers views of Manhattan’s skyline.
The steel-framed terminal, with a linear, precisely articulated form, presents a modern, cohesive face to both the landside and airside. It replaces a disjointed patchwork of structures with one that closely follows the curves of the Grand Central Parkway (GCP) and the airport access roads.
Pedestrian bridges extending from the terminal to two island concourses enhance airport operations and create a metaphor for New York—a city of islands and bridges. As taxiing planes pass beneath them, these 450-foot-long steel truss pedestrian bridges offer panoramic views onto Manhattan and reinforce the airport’s connections to the city.
Terminal B’s public-private partnership approach challenged HOK’s engineering team to provide quick solutions as construction began before the design was finished. This proved particularly demanding in the design of the 450-foot-long pedestrian bridges that connect the terminal’s main hall to its two airside island concourses because the massive steel and glass spans had to be high enough to allow passage of the largest aircraft yet low enough to preserve sight lines from air traffic control.
The limited structural depth of the bridges and their sensitivity to slight changes in massing meant any project alterations could create costly and time-consuming delays. HOK Stream, a proprietary parametric modeling tool, enabled HOK’s engineering team to quickly analyze and vet multiple changes to the bridge geometry made during the construction-documentation phase. These complex alterations to the bridge design were accommodated without impacting project schedules or costs.
The terminal’s island concourses and pedestrian bridges offer more than a new appearance. They allowed the design team to move Terminal B 600 feet closer to Grand Central Parkway. This opened up two additional miles of aircraft taxi lanes that will reduce airport ground delays as the terminal ramps up to its full capacity of serving 17.5 million annual passengers.
Inside the terminal, all check-in and passenger screening areas are located on the third floor. As needs change, this location will give Terminal B the adaptability to accommodate evolving security screening and technology. Instead of providing rigid parameters for each of its airline tenants, the “common-use” design allows airlines to move easily within the terminal, expanding or shrinking their footprints within the terminal.
And, for New Yorkers missing the city’s art museums during the pandemic shutdown, the terminal’s new collection of site-specific artwork is largely available to the public without a boarding pass. In partnership with LaGuardia Gateway Partners, Public Art Fund commissioned the installations, which include permanent works by Jeppe Hein, Sabine Hornig, Laura Owens, and Sarah Sze, as well as temporary artwork, throughout the facility.