Airports can be the most exciting of spaces, the embodiment of our collective wanderlust. And yet, as most airports have grown piecemeal in response to increased demand and security needs, they are often cramped and confused—falling far short of their potential. Toronto’s Pearson Airport found itself skirting the latter category. It is expected to handle more than 29 million passengers by 2015, far exceeding the capacity of its two existing terminals. As a result, it engaged SOM, in conjunction with Adamson Associates and Moshe Safdie, to design a new main terminal as well as a phased redevelopment plan for Pearson’s airfield, maintenance, and cargo facilities.
A crescent-shaped terminal forms the project’s centerpiece, containing ticketing and baggage claim areas, while four concourses extending from the hub will accommodate retail shops and 77 gates. Natural light and views guide travelers through each space. Linear skylights aligned between ticketing islands help orient departing passengers and provide visual rhythm within the curving departure hall. After depositing their luggage, travellers cross over glass-floored bridges and then on to the gates, passing through a series of concrete buttresses that support the hall’s wing-like roof. An open call for artists’ work resulted in bright, colorful pieces by Sol Lewitt, Jonathan Borofsky, Ingo Maurer, Katherina Grosse, and others.