Airline Review

The Path To The Future Starts Now

The $1.545 billion modernization Bradley West Project at LAX

View of the Bridge looking northeast from Midfield Concourse/Conceptual Design. Photo credit: © 2010 Fentress Architects/Los Angeles World Airports.

As you taxi out on the runways towards the west at LAX, you may notice that we have broken ground on the $1.545-billion modernization effort for the Bradley West Project. It’s the largest public works project in the history of Los Angeles, and the most significant airport modernization project of the decade. The project is necessary for LAX to remain one of the top airports in the world. As the seventh busiest airport in the world and the number one Origin and Destination airport for passenger traffic in the U.S., LAX has recently fallen behind in its ability to service you — the travelers who pass through the gates.

Photo credit: © 2010 Fentress Architects/Los Angeles World Airports.

LAX has a long history of space constriction challenges. While newer airports such as Denver International Airport have wide-open plains on which to expand, the surrounding neighborhoods and the ocean put limits on the size (or footprint) of Los Angeles International Airport.

The airport was designed to accommodate 40 million annual passengers, and with 57 million passing through in 2009, it’s obvious that we need more space and an updated facility with better passenger amenities. Additionally next-generation aircraft and double-decker planes like the Airbus A380 require multiple jet way bridges to service both levels. These challenges led to the new developments.
This modernization effort is especially important as we gradually return to an improved economy. As passenger traffic grows we’ll need to be prepared, and LAX is too important to the Los Angeles economy not to be kept in tiptop shape. Says Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, “By modernizing the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, we will provide better service for passengers from around the world. Tourism and international trade are major contributors to Los Angeles’ economy. They both generate jobs, and contribute to the City’s ability to retain its position in the ever-increasing competitive global marketplace. Improving the experience for travelers at LAX will put thousands of people to work now and for years to come.”

From left to right: Qantas Senior Executive Vice President Americas and the Pacific Wally Mariani, Curtis W. Fentress, Fentress Architects, Ralph Ketchum, Austin Commercial, Los Angeles Board of Airports Commissioner Walter Zifkin, LA City Councilwoman Janice Hahn-District 15, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, LA City Councilman William Rosendahl-District 11, Los Angeles Board of Airports Commission President Alan Rothenberg, Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey, Los Angeles Board of Airports Commissioner Valeria C. Velasco, and Los Angeles Board of Airports Commissioners Joseph Aredas break ground on the Bradley West Project. Photo credit: Los Angeles World Airports.

The project is expected to create 4,000 jobs over a three-year delivery schedule, and it will also impact secondary regional economies with the need for construction goods and services necessary to complete the project. Ninety percent of the construction workforce will come from Southern California.

As we move forward, this large-scale project will be built in accordance with LAWA’s Sustainable Design and Construction Guidelines, which state that “Construction projects must optimize the use of recycled building materials, minimize the amount of energy used in construction, and optimize energy efficiency”. The project will also use sensible environmental practices, such as placing concrete mixers and other necessary equipment on-site to reduce the number of trips to and from the site, retrofitting construction equipment with emission-reducing devices, and working to control dust.

Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners President Alan Rothenberg sums up the direction given to the project team: “The emphasis of our airport modernization program is to dramatically improve the passenger experience from curbside to airside with a design that captures the spirit of Los Angeles, establishes new levels of passenger convenience, and exudes a sense of welcome and a comfortable place for the harried traveler.”

The massive project was awarded to Fentress Architects for their stunning design and to Walsh Austin Joint Venture for the construction. Roger Johnson, Los Angeles World Airports Deputy Executive Director for Airport Development, is heading up the project for the airport’s team, comprised of staff from Airfield Operations, Information & Management Technology, Construction & Maintenance, Inspection, Properties, and Accounting. Several other L.A. City departments are contributing to this effort, including the Offices of the City Controller, City Administration, as well as the department of Building & Safety, Water & Power, and Public Works.

You’ll be familiar with Fentress Architects’ work from Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, and Denver International Airport. DIA was the project that put architect Curtis Fentress into the high-profile world of airport design. With its white-peaked tents, Fentress revolutionized airport design by “flipping the airport upside down.” “We took all the mechanicals off the roof,” Fentress says, recalling the process of creating the world’s then-largest and most famous fabric roof at DIA. “This freed us to create a superlight cutting-edge structure, a canopy saturated with light.” It also reminded passengers of where they were, Colorado, with her huge snow-capped mountains and history of Native American culture, along with the pioneer settler experience. The huge success in Denver allowed Fentress the opportunity to do the Korean culture-infused passenger terminal at Incheon International Airport in Seoul, consistently voted the “World’s Best Airport” by international airport organizations and business travel magazines.

Fentress has prepared some very impressive plans for LAX and the city. The future of LAX will be stunning, entertaining and comfortable. At his office in Santa Monica, California, Fentress explains the core mission of the Bradley modernization is to completely reinvent the passenger experience. Changing security needs and increased passenger loads are forcing airports to evolve, Fentress says. “Airports of the future demand the flexibility to adapt easily to changes in airlines, operations and passenger needs, from day-to-day to the future unknown,” he says.
And while in airport design, functionality and safety are the most important concerns, LAWA plans to make LAX outlandishly stylish as well. “We wanted to capture the rhythmic motion of waves and ocean swells suggesting the Los Angeles culture that constantly and endlessly reinvents itself,” Fentress says.

Model of new LAX Vision, including a new Sky Bridge with a Sky Train | Conceptual Design. Photo credit: © 2010 Fentress Architects/Los Angeles World Airports. All Rights Reserved.

The international terminal’s new Great Hall will be a grand space covering the area of three football fields, with ceilings soaring 10 stories high. Three tiers break up the Great Hall’s verticality, and give the space a sense of human scale. While the majority of the passengers shop and dine in the high-end duty free shops and dining facilities on the main level, the second and third tiers offer additional restaurants and airline premium lounges. Above them, an articulated ceiling supported by steel beams encased in an off-white cast material shields passengers from the sunlight streaming through enormous glass curtain walls. The effect, Fentress says, is a constant sense of warm ambient light even after dark. Judging from the drawings alone, the modernized Bradley promises to return at least some of the glamour and excitement of air travel.

For arriving passengers, a light-filled passageway lined with windows that overlook both the airfield and the terminal below will greet deplaning passengers. As they descend escalators from the jet way corridor, natural light refracts through transparent waterfalls sliding between sheets of glass. Even in the usually staid processing areas, warm wood panels and deep light wells offer a glimpse of the expansive warmer Los Angeles that lies beyond the gates.

For all there is to do and see inside the modernized LAX, the Fentress design ensures passengers never lose their sense of geographic context. At the end of the sky bridge — planned for a future phase — passengers relax in a lounge cantilevered like a pier into open space. From here, just as from the Great Hall, passengers are treated to an unparalleled view of the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Santa Monica Mountains to the north. Though the nature of travelers is to focus on where they’re headed, the architecture of LAX will remind them where they are.

While L.A. is now destined for a new international terminal that redefines the airport’s global status, the city is also undertaking a new project delivery method. Most large city construction projects of the past operated as Design, Bid, Build, but the Bradley West project will be conducted as Design-Bid-Build ‘Construction Management At Risk.’ This is the first project to be awarded this way in the city’s history, so it will provide an important lesson for Los Angeles and other municipalities. This method has a fast-track nature that follows the Integrated Project Delivery concept, with the main difference being that the construction company becomes part of the Airport Development Group that comprises the airport, design and construction teams. They all have a vested interest in a successfully completed project that is done on time and within budget. All groups have to collaborate in order to meet their schedule, and along the way, they build camaraderie and group pride in their work.

We are incredibly excited about this latest development and look forward to reporting to you as the modernization progresses. We couldn’t be more thrilled that the future of LAX will be award-winning architecture with an environmentally sustainable design.

Images Of What Is To Come
(Clockwise from Top Right):

View of the Bridge looking northeast from Midfield Concourse/Conceptual Design.
Photo credit: © 2010 Fentress Architects/Los Angeles World Airports.
The $1.545-billion Bradley West modernization program seeks to help LAX retain its competitiveness as the premier West Coast international gateway, especially to the fast growing Asia-Pacific Region.
• View looking north on the new Bradley West Concourse
• View looking southeast to the new Bradley West Great Hall and Concourse
• Rendering of the children’s play area
• Upper level view of the new Bradley West Terminal Great Hall retail

Photo credit: Los Angeles World Airports.

From left to right: Airport Commissioner Michael Lawson, QANTAS Senior Executive Vice President Americas and the Pacific Wally Mariani, Architect Curtis W. Fentress, Ralph Ketchum of Austin Commercial, Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioner Walter Zifkin, L.A. City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, L.A. City Councilman William Rosendahl, Los Angeles Board of Airport Commission President Alan Rothenberg, Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey, Airport Commissioners Valeria C. Velasco and Joseph Aredas break ground on the Bradley West Project. Photo credit: Jay Berkowitz Los Angeles World Airports

TOP: Model of new LAX Vision, including a new Sky Bridge with a Sky Train | Conceptual Design. Photo credit: © 2010 Fentress Architects/Los Angeles World Airports. All Rights Reserved.

LEFT: Curtis Fentress studies an architectural model of an airport. Photo credit: Chris Humphreys Photography, Inc.

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