Gannett Fleming and HOK collaboration sees energy efficient automated train for Phoenix
On 8 April, 2013, HOK joined airport and community representatives in celebrating the opening of Stage 1 of the new PHX Sky Train™, one of the world’s most advanced and energy-efficient automated people movers. The all-electric PHX Sky Train™ is the result of an eight-year collaboration between the Los Angeles office of international architecture firm HOK and transportation design and engineering firm Gannett Fleming. HOK designed the stations while Gannett Fleming designed the rail system and bridges.
The first of three planned stages, Stage 1, which includes three elevated passenger stations, travels a 1.7-mile route linking Phoenix’s METRO light-rail station with the airport’s economy parking structure and the 88-gate Terminal 4. It is expected that 2.5 million passengers will ride Stage 1 in the first year of operation.
By bringing transit directly into one of the nation’s busiest and most urban airports - Sky Harbor is located just three miles from downtown Phoenix - the PHX Sky Train™ serves as more than just a hub for smart transit or transit-oriented development. By better connecting Phoenix’s growing downtown with Sky Harbor it establishes a new framework for the city’s long-term growth.
“We wanted to do something efficient and flexible that would fit with the airport’s goals,” says Chris Anderson, HOK’s senior design architect for the project. “They were looking to make Sky Harbor a multi-modal airport,” he adds. While this would serve the immediate need to reduce congestion around the terminals it also reinforces the airport’s long-term goals for smart growth and flexibility.
The elliptical form of the station, while easily identifiable, is more than a symbolic gesture. Because the shape is structurally more efficient, it allows for a 30% reduction in steel when compared to more conventional structures. This was a significant carbon footprint-reducing measure. The elliptical shell also functions as a high-performance envelope, protecting passengers from the extremes of the desert climate. Set between this envelope and below the platform is the covered, open-air breezeway.
While strategically conceived as space for the future growth of the station, the phasing of this expansion created a significant reduction in the stations immediate and near term heating and cooling requirements. The entire project has achieved a rating of LEED-NC Gold, making it the first automated people mover system to receive such a rating.