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AIRPORT DESIGN Last modified on February 4, 2016

Terminal velocity

Continually topping customer satisfaction polls is the goal of almost every airport and in today’s highly competitive operating environment, one way to impress is having a modern, state-of-the-art terminal.

Creating top passenger experiences is certainly high on the agenda of Fentress Architects, which in the past 30 years has designed some of the world’s most famous airport terminals.

Denver has consistently been ranked among the top airports in North America, for example, and Incheon International Airport is arguably the world’s favourite gateway having won more Airport Service Quality (ASQ) customer satisfaction awards than anyone else.

Elsewhere, LAX’s new Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) has helped elevate the Californian airport up the rankings.   

Fentress is known for designing iconic airports that reflect a sense of place, which it says emerges through a design philosophy that involves intensive research and discovery. 

Each design is also shaped to reflect the client and the community’s needs, says Fentress, which notes that the peaked roofs of Denver International Airport drew inspiration from the Rocky Mountains.

Likewise, Incheon drew from traditional Korean temples, and the curling waves of the Pacific Ocean inspired the roofline at Los Angeles’ new TBIT. Each design becomes a welcoming reflection of the city it serves, says Fentress.

Fentress insists that recognising and supporting current trends is extremely important when creating a top passenger experience, particularly for concessions areas where travellers are demanding ever more upscale offerings. 

“Great concessions begin by planning and creating a comfortable space where people enjoy spending time,” says CEO and principal in charge of design, Curtis Fentress.

“High ceilings, views to the airfield, ample daylight and power sources are just some of the elements we addresses through our design.” 

The more information passengers have about their fight schedule, the more comfortable they feel about using their timeat the airport to eat and shop, he notes. 

Technology is helping with this information flow; nearly 90% of all airports are investing in business intelligence technology, he points out, adding that travel apps now allow travellers to pass through security and onto their plane while constantly updating them with real time travel information. 

Another trend in technology includes large multi-media screens and displays, says Fentress. LAX’s TBIT, for instance, has 12,000 square feet of media with over 60 ultra-high resolution multi-media productions that cycle throughout the day. 

“The media screens provide the information people need and they entertain them – all while generating millions of dollars in annual revenue through advertising,” says Fentress.

“Technology and information are shaping the future of air travel. Together, they are driving the passenger experience, and passengers are demanding that airports work with their devices. 

“The top spots for passenger experience are open to the airports willing to invest in this infrastructure of the future. One day in the not-too-distant future, all data, media systems, personal devices, and architecture will work together to provide a more integrated passenger experience.”

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