LAX gets a face-lift

Laura Salmi
Monday 24 Nov 2008

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa unveils plans for the proposed modernization

LAX Airport is the fifth busiest airport in the world for passengers with over 62 million people flying in and out last year; nonetheless it hasn’t been significantly altered since the 1980’s and a modernization scheme is now long due.

As stressed by the Los Angeles Mayor at the design unveiling ceremony, it is going to be a modernization and not an expansion. The aim is to improve the passenger’s experience and create a lighter and greener terminal to become a landmark for the city. "Today marks a milestone in our effort to modernize the hub of the region's air transportation system and restore it to the premier international gateway the airlines need and the City of Angels deserves," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.

Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), along with city officials, selected Fentress Architects in association with HNTB to develop a design concept for the modernization scheme of LAX. The Denver chosen practice has already 7 airport design in its portfolio including the Denver International Airport with its multiple spiky roofs reminiscing of the nearby Rocky Mountains.

Visually, Fentress Architects’ dynamic new design is inspired by the Pacific Ocean that will include roof tops flowing as rhythmic waves breaking on the shore, flat-seam stainless steel stretches over the column-free structure. The plans also intend to considerably change the appearance and feel of the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) with larger curbside canopies creating an airy cover and a more gracious entry to this important Gateway.

The revamped LAX will feature a two-level bridge offering either a train ride on the lower level, or automated pedestrian walks on the upper level. The split level design will allow unobstructed views to both the north and south with viewing lounges at either end of the bridge providing a welcoming view downtown to the east and a departing view of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean to the West. With fluid flow of passengers in mind, the new LAX airport will sport an automated people mover connecting terminals and outside transport.

Airport officials describe the modernisation as follows: "In both conspicuous and subtle ways, the modernized design of LAX pronounces, 'You’re in LA!'", but they are also prompt in saying that there is a lot to be done before the first shovel hits the ground as all the projects have to first pass rigorous environmental approval.

Laura Salmi

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