Washington Dulles International Airport – Main Terminal Expansion and AeroTrain Station

Dulles
Dulles Airport
Dulles

Project Facts
  • Completion Year 2010
  • Size Building Gross Area: 275,000
  • Awards
    2011, Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement, Award of Merit, American Society Of Civil Engineers 2011, Airport Terminal of the Year, Global AirRail Awards
  • Collaborators
    Amman & Whitney Bnp Associates Inc. Mcla, Inc. Ten8 Group
Project Facts
  • Completion Year 2010
  • Size Building Gross Area: 275,000
  • Awards
    2011, Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement, Award of Merit, American Society Of Civil Engineers 2011, Airport Terminal of the Year, Global AirRail Awards
  • Collaborators
    Amman & Whitney Bnp Associates Inc. Mcla, Inc. Ten8 Group

Main Terminal Expansion

With its striking roofline that gracefully swoops up from the landscape, Eero Saarinen’s landmarked Washington Dulles International Airport terminal is considered to be one of the finest examples of modern architecture. SOM more than doubled the narrow structure’s length, adding 300 feet onto each end, with a design that respects the 1962-vintage building and helps integrate previous additions.

In the new spaces, SOM replicated the distinctive catenary structure as well as the concrete finishes, windows, and terrazzo floors. Below grade, its expansion carved out space for new, automated baggage-handling facilities.

Construction proceeded in phases to allow the facility to remain open during the project. When completed in 1997, the expansion nearly tripled the airport’s passenger handling capacity to 40 million a year. Active at Dulles since 1985, SOM has designed a master plan that includes six midfield concourses, a new international arrivals hall, and main terminal station for a new people-mover network.

Dulles airport
© Jeff Goldberg | Esto
Dulles
© Rick Latoff
© Rick Latoff

AeroTrain Station

When it opened in 1962, Washington Dulles International Airport was the first airport in the United States designed for commercial jet aircraft. Eero Saarinen created a fleet of “mobile lounges” to transport passengers from the compact terminal to remotely parked planes. Due to changing security needs and a growing volume of travelers, the lounges became inefficient. In turn, SOM conceived a people mover system that provides rail and pedestrian links between the main terminal and midfield concourses.

To preserve sight lines and to keep Saarinen’s landmark building intact, the main station is located entirely underground. A faceted roof structure supported by 105-foot-long concrete beams contains numerous skylights and luminous panels, which bathe the subterranean space in daylight. The floor is envisioned as a single folded plan floating between concrete walls, with a terrazzo surface similar to the flooring in the iconic terminal above.

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