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Saturday, October 03, 2009

San Francisco International Airport Terminal 2, San Francisco, United States

San Fran Airport expansion tops off
While the world cries out for sustainability, there's one thing that people just aren't prepared to reduce, and that's air time. So increasingly, while passenger figures remain steadily on the rise, the air industry is looking to building design to generate not just new terminals, but green points too. The same is true at San Francisco International Airport's new Terminal 2 building which topped off last week.

Accommodating a 22% growth in passenger traffic, Gensler's design provides 587,000 sq ft of LEED Silver registered property (aiming for official certification once complete) and the architects advise the measures taken are projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the facility by an estimated 1,667 tons, or the equivalent of 210 homes worth of CO2 emmissions every year.

To achieve these savings the architects have incorporated abundant use of natural light, saving in energy use for lighting during day hours; introduced efficient mechanical systems to distribute air at a higher temperature and lower velocity than traditional systems to save energy and provide cooling for just the spaces that require it; and used reclaimed water in a stand-alone plumbing system which will be independent of external sources.

A one-off saving of 12,300 tons of carbon dioxide (equivalent to that emitted from over 1000 homes) which would otherwise have been created in the construction process has been made by reusing a substantial portion of the infrastructure of the existing building in the renovated T2. The building itself is to be used as a teaching tool with 'engaging' signage highlighting the importance of sustainable measures. Combined with an aggressive recycling policy and hydrating stations which will encourage users to refill or recycle their plastic bottles, Terminal 2 is set to be an agent for green solutions in transport.

Aside from the necessary sustainability nod though, the terminal, upon completion, is designed to provide an emphasis on service, hospitality, and comfort, all of which, as we all know, are essential when the unavoidable delays occur. To meet this standard Gensler have incorporated a post-security re-composure zone complete with zen-garden style water features (to take you to your 'happy place' while you put your shoes back on), a selection of hotel-inspired seating areas in the departure lounge together with a range of retail options, and your choice of two children's play zones where you can watch your kids wear themselves out before the long journey ahead.

These comforting design features also have a parallel benefit, say the architects: "We believe that if the average passenger is calm, relaxed, and confident in where he/she is going, this helps the entire airport operate more efficiently and safely and makes it easier for security personnel to identify suspicious behavior. So we really worked to create an experience that is comfortable, calm, and easy to understand via features like the revesting area post-security, the meeters and greeters (arrivals) lounge, as well as things things like warm colors, comfortable hotel-like furniture, etc. Having the ability to integrate the latest security technology into the airport already puts the terminal ahead of most others who have had to shoehorn it into a space that wasn’t designed to handle it. The security checkpoint will feature body-scan technology, and a pre-queuing area that flows into the actual security queue."

At a cost of $383 million, the extension will provide 4 new gates, 8 new security lanes, 26 ticketing positions and not to forget, 4 new baggage reclaim carousels when it opens its gates in 2011.

Niki May Young
News Editor

architecture NOW

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