Press Release

Design Unveiled for New Satellite Concourse at Chicago O’Hare

Aerial view of Satellite One, connected to Concourse C and able to accommodate both international and domestic operations with flexible gating for a wide range of aircraft types and sizes, including one A380 super-jumbo gate.

City of Chicago reveals the design for the first phase of the curb-to-gate transformation of O’Hare International Airport.

Mayor Brandon Johnson and the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) have revealed the design for the Satellite Concourse 1 at O’Hare International Airport, the first new building in the ambitious Terminal Area Program (TAP). Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) with Ross Barney Architects, Juan Gabriel Moreno Architects (JGMA), and Arup, the bright and modern concourse will be the first new building in the largest concourse area expansion and revitalization in the airport’s 68-year history.

“On behalf of Mayor Johnson, I thank SOM, JGMA, and Ross Barney Architects for their incredible partnership over the past five years,” said Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee of the CDA. “The designs released today showcase the result of that work, and the firms’ continued commitment to meet the City’s budget expectations while still delivering a design that all of Chicago can be proud of.”

As one of the first domestic-international codeshare concourses in Chicago, Satellite Concourse 1 is designed to flexibly accommodate different aircraft bodies, increasing operational efficiency for carriers as well as layover passengers in one of the nation’s busiest airports. “We designed the new satellite concourse to create a frictionless experience for travelers, on par with the best airports in the world,” says SOM Design Partner Scott Duncan. “The gate lounges feature column-free expanses for easy wayfinding, high ceilings to improve views and air circulation, and a daylighting strategy to help align the body’s natural rhythms—all to make the experience of air travel more pleasurable.”

Satellite interior, south end. Within the concourse, rows of columns branch out to create larger column-free expanses at the gate lounges, maximizing sightlines and improving flexibility for boarding and circulation paths while also reducing the carbon impact of the structure.
SOM and Norviska

The SOM-led team was selected in 2019 to design the airport’s two satellite terminals as part of an international design competition, and will be the first team to break ground. In spite of the many challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic posed to the airline and construction industries, the design for Satellite Concourse 1 is currently under budget and on track for construction, with on-site work on the airfield to prepare for construction already underway.

“We are proud to join SOM with JGMA and Arup, in designing the new O’Hare International Airport Satellite Concourse 1, where every journey will begin and end amidst the hustle and bustle of global connectivity. We have always advocated for the value of well-designed public spaces, particularly in the context of a major international airport like O’Hare”, said Ross Barney Architects Founder and Design Principal Carol Ross Barney, FAIA.

International arrivals corridor. International arriving passengers will walk towards immigration and customs along a suspended bridge at the center of the concourse, with views down to the gate lounges and out to the airfield.
SOM and Norviska

Inspired by the orchard that gave O’Hare its original name (“Orchard Field”), a tree-like structural system inside Satellite Concourse 1 eliminates almost half the columns at the gates, reducing congestion and enabling more efficient boarding and improved visibility for passengers.

The modern design is uniquely tuned to the climate of the Midwest, finding efficiencies that prioritize wellbeing while also improving environmental performance. The branching structural system reduces the embodied carbon of the building, while the building’s curved roof profile minimizes heating and cooling needs, strategically overhanging to create shade during peak sun conditions while central skylights create daylit waiting areas year-round. High-performance mechanical and electrical systems further reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Interior view of the concourse gate lounges. A curved roof profile minimizes heating and cooling needs in the building, filtering daylight or reflecting artificial light to help align with the body's natural rhythms. High-performance mechanical and electrical systems further reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
SOM and Norviska

A connection from the existing Concourse C will drop passengers in an atrium, where connecting or departing passengers can relax in a garden-like setting flooded with daylight from an oculus skylight above. Carefully selected materials throughout the interior extend this natural palette, offering warmth and acoustic absorption.

“It’s an honor to expand on our work at Concourse C to continue to improve the campus of O’Hare, and to work with SOM, Ross Barney Architects, and Arup to design a dignified passenger experience for the city and visitors to Chicago,” said Juan Moreno, President and Founder of Juan Gabriel Moreno Architects.

Satellite One looking at the north. It will provide spacious new gate lounges, retail shops, Chicago-based dining experiences and moments for relaxation within respite seating areas and other amenities. The south end of the concourse provides exciting views of the nearby runway.
SOM and Norviska