Kansas City International Airport New Terminal

The largest single infrastructure project in the region’s history, the new terminal reimagines inclusivity and accessibility for air travel with a design deeply informed by residents throughout the city.

Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2023
  • Size Site Area: 10,000 acres Building Height: 70 feet Number of Stories: 3 Building Gross Area: 1,090,000 square feet
  • Passengers 16000000
  • Gates 39
  • Awards
    2023, Structural Engineering Excellence Award, SEAoNY 2023, Award of Merit, Airport/Transit, Engineering News-Record 2023, Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) – Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) 2024, Project of the Year, AIRPORT BUSINESS
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED BD+C NC (New Construction) Gold, BD+C, Gold, 1
  • Collaborators
    Anthony & Associates, Inc. Bird Control Advisory Arup BNP Associates Inc. Thornton Tomasetti T&B Engineering Inc. HG Consult, Inc. DRAW Architecture + Urban Design LLC Lerch Bates Garver Entro Trekk Design Group FSC Inc Leigh & O'Kane LightWorks HJM Architects Inc LAND3 Studio Michele & Associates Studio 8 Wellner Architects, Inc. SK Design Group, Inc. 3T Design & Development LLC Clark Construction Group, LLC Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate Henderson Engineers Inc
Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2023
  • Size Site Area: 10,000 acres Building Height: 70 feet Number of Stories: 3 Building Gross Area: 1,090,000 square feet
  • Passengers 16000000
  • Gates 39
  • Awards
    2023, Structural Engineering Excellence Award, SEAoNY 2023, Award of Merit, Airport/Transit, Engineering News-Record 2023, Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) – Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) 2024, Project of the Year, AIRPORT BUSINESS
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED BD+C NC (New Construction) Gold, BD+C, Gold, 1
  • Collaborators
    Anthony & Associates, Inc. Bird Control Advisory Arup BNP Associates Inc. Thornton Tomasetti T&B Engineering Inc. HG Consult, Inc. DRAW Architecture + Urban Design LLC Lerch Bates Garver Entro Trekk Design Group FSC Inc Leigh & O'Kane LightWorks HJM Architects Inc LAND3 Studio Michele & Associates Studio 8 Wellner Architects, Inc. SK Design Group, Inc. 3T Design & Development LLC Clark Construction Group, LLC Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate Henderson Engineers Inc

Modernizing the airport

The new terminal at Kansas City International Airport—designed, planned, and engineered by SOM with design-builder Clark | Weitz | Clarkson (CWC)—is a state-of-the-art travel hub that will transform the existing airport. This 1.1-million-square-foot building replaces the original, overcrowded terminals, built in 1972, with a single 39-gate complex designed to expand to 50 gates in the future. The project significantly increases passenger capacity, and reimagines the passenger experience, embodying the region’s rich culture and elevating the airport into a place that is inclusive and accessible to all.

Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM

The I-shaped building encompasses two levels: the upper for departing passengers and the lower for arrivals, each with their own access road and curb. Check-in and security occupy the upper level just inside the entrance, and baggage claim, customs, and an outdoor public garden comprise the lower level. Beyond security, two parallel concourses with retail at the center are linked by a pedestrian passage that provides sweeping views of the airfield. All post-security spaces are on the same level—a design that creates an easier journey for all passengers.

Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM

An inspiring arrival

An inviting experience can be found in every space throughout the terminal. The entrance is a welcoming and light-filled space, sheltered by a generous overhang, with a glass and aluminum facade and structurally expressive Y-columns. Warm materials clad the interiors—from the hemlock ceiling to the marble terrazzo floors. A series of colorful, locally designed mosaics, cut and preserved from the site’s previous terminal, have been placed throughout the floors of the new concourses, maintaining the memory of the original building.

Kansas City International Airport New Terminal Entrance
Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM

The most accessible terminal in the world

SOM selected natural materials for much of the interiors, including timber ceilings and the marble terrazzo floors. Inside the Check-In Hall, a massive, 732-foot-long Missouri limestone wall serves as a backdrop to “The Air Up There,” a kinetic sculpture—designed by Missouri-born artist Nick Cave—that is made of thousands of colorful wind spinners to convey the wonder of travel. 

"The Air Up There" by Nick Cave. Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM
"The Air Up There" by Nick Cave. Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM

The sculpture is the first of 27 works of art spread throughout the terminal. It is part of a comprehensive public art program, in which one percent of the entire budget–$5.6 million—was dedicated to commissioning local and international artists. Soo Sunny Park, Leo Villareal, Willie Cole, and a host of other artists embodied the look and feel of the city in a variety of ways—from honoring Kansas City’s moniker as the “City of Fountains” to evoking its contribution to the history of jazz.

"Molten Swing" by Soo Sunny Park. Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM

On the lower level, beside the baggage claim area, a series of glass doors open onto a public garden. These doors bring natural light inside while providing travelers with the kind of outdoor space that is rarely found in airports. Here, the organization of seating and trees mimics the circular form of the airport’s original terminals, and adds one more fountain to a city well known for its ornamental water features.

"Cloud Gazing" by SOFTlab. Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM

The most accessible terminal in the world

Through dozens of community meetings, SOM—in collaboration with Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate, CWC, and the city’s aviation department—engaged with residents of Kansas City and its surrounding areas to determine how to create a terminal that would be comfortable, convenient, and welcoming to all. The city issued a resolution calling for the terminal to be “the most accessible in the world,” and inclusivity became the guiding principle for the design. Every gate desk, check-in position, and info desk is set to a wheelchair-accessible height. The Kansas City Air Travel Experience simulator gives passengers who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with air travel the chance to “test run” in the days before a trip. A “quiet room” provides a refuge for all travelers in need of a calming space. With all-gender restrooms, a sensory room for children, and more, the new terminal welcomes all segments of the public.

Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM
Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM
Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM

A women-led team

Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate and the city endeavored to exceed industry standards in forming a design and construction team headlined by women-owned businesses. A total of 54 women-owned businesses worked on this project, and the number of women on the construction team tripled the industry average for participation, at 8 percent. SOM’s team, from project management to design and structural engineering, was led by women in our New York and Washington, D.C. studios.


So many stories will be shaped for the better by this great public works project. An airport like this is the front door to a community–the first impression for millions of people who will come here for work, for pleasure, and to see loved ones. It’s certainly safe to say that the new Kansas City International Airport will do that job particularly well.


The Midwest’s most sustainable terminal

The Kansas City Airport is the first LEED v4 GOLD BD+C: NC terminal/concourse project in the U.S. Midwest, and just the second in the entire United States. The building also has goals in place to run on renewable energy in the future. It runs entirely on electricity, and in the coming years, a solar farm will be built to convert all airport operations to green energy. Many of the materials were sourced locally, and its wood finishes are FSC-certified. The master plan also includes a comprehensive conservation strategy that maintains native trees and grasses from KCI’s original construction.

Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM

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