Ever since the airplane advanced from glider to turbojet airliner, commercial
air travel has been busy building, rebuilding, modifying, and renovating airports.
To keep pace with the advancements, the professionals involved with airport
facilities search for better ways to accommodate passengers in the most efficient
ways possible. When John F. Kennedy International Airport in Jamaica, NY, began
its transformation into a future-ready facility, a newly constructed Terminal
4 was in order.
John F. Kennedy International Airport, Terminal 4, Jamaica, NY
new design of Terminal 4 increased efficiency at JFK by providing different
roadways and entrances for departures and arrivals.
Built in 1956 before the jet age, the former International Arrivals Building
(IAB) did not provide separate arrivals and departures roadways, lacked efficiency,
and could not accommodate the heavy traffic of daily passengers. "At the
time it was developed, it was designed for propeller aircraft, and then was
expanded in the late 1960s and early '70s to handle jumbo jets, but it really
did not function very well as a large, 6-million-passenger-a-year facility,"
explains David Sigman, development general manager, JFK IAT. The new Terminal
4 would change all this, reorganizing the space with a three-level, U-shaped
A first of its kind, the terminal represents one of the largest public/private
partnerships ever, and was developed and operated by a private consortium comprised
of Schiphol USA, an affiliate of the Schiphol Group (operator of the Amsterdam
Airport Schiphol); LCOR Inc., a real estate developer; and Lehman Brothers,
investment bankers. JFK International Air Terminal (JFK IAT) LLC operated the
existing IAB facility for the four-year period of construction, and will lease
and operate Terminal 4 from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for
the next 25 years.
Constructing the 1.5 million-square-foot facility on the same 165-acre plot
as the IAB required excellent communication and intricate phasing. The existing
building had to remain operational during construction, maintaining the functions
of over 50 airlines and terminal tenants, while accommodating the large number
of passengers using the terminal. A minimum of 10 contact gates were kept working
at all times. The Construction Manager/Alliance Partner, AMEC Construction Management
Inc., found an innovative way to keep on schedule during work on the interior
of the departure hall. "We constructed a rolling scaffold that allowed
us to work on the overhead finish ceiling work and associated electrical, mechanical,
and architectural components while, at the same time, working safely underneath
those spaces finishing the ticketing kiosks, flooring, and information counters,"
explains John Babieracki, executive vice president, AMEC, New York City.
Terminal 4 is comprised of three main components: a glass-walled central building
and two concourses, containing a total of 16 gates. Eleven gates are currently
in use, and the additional five gates will be opened following demolition of
the remaining IAB in April 2002. The new terminal has been designed to accommodate
future growth, and can be easily expanded with minimal interruption to airport
Located on the top level, the 500- by 400-foot Departures lobby contains four
check-in islands with a total of 144 check-in positions. Time between connections
has never been as enjoyable as it is today, with shopping at the terminal's
retail concourse located on the middle level. The expansive "street"
of shops extends the length of four Manhattan city blocks and offers passengers
an assortment of eating places and stores like H. Stern Jewelers and DKNY apparel.
The lowest level of the central building, or headhouse, houses baggage claim,
and arrivals, as well as areas for 52 INS and 20 U.S. Customs positions.
A relatively new concept for U.S. airport facilities, much of Terminal 4 is
common use, enabling greater efficiency for airlines and their passengers. "There
are very few spaces that are dedicated to one airline's use - we can reuse check-in
desks, gates, and baggage claim devices based on flight schedules, not based
on an airline leasing those areas," explains Sigman.
Inside its stone, steel, and glass façade, the terminal greets individuals
with an environment filled with natural light and inventive artwork. "They're
bright, durable spaces and address the needs of a working facility, but do it
with a lot of style," says Babieracki.
Nearly completed, the new Terminal 4 has people buzzing about the reinvention
of one of the city's legendary airports. Plans for further renovation and new
construction are already in the works. A proposed expansion for Delta Air Lines
will double the size of the terminal, and conclude in mid-2005. Together with
the recent renovation of Terminal 1, JFK International Airport is beginning
to provide travelers with a 21st century experience that not only makes getting
where you're going easier - but also more enjoyable.
Jana J. Madsen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is senior associate editor at Buildings magazine.