Burns & McDonnell Leads Design of New Delta Terminal and Airfield at LaGuardia
Increased Efficiency with a Modern Look: Burns & McDonnell Leads Design Team in Fitting New Delta Terminal and Airfield on Constrained Site of Ongoing LaGuardia Operations
“We’re building the nation’s first completely new airport in 25 years and showing the nation and the world that you can be ambitious and get big things done,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at the opening of Delta Air Lines’ first new concourse at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport last fall.
The complete rebuild of LaGuardia will replace outdated facilities and infrastructure with a modern airfield, terminals, and roadways – without ever losing capacity for the more than 30 million passengers traveling through the airport each year.
Work has been underway since Cuomo unveiled the vision for a new LaGuardia in 2015. In December 2018, a new concourse opened at Terminal B on the airport’s western half. That terminal is being built and operated by the private consortium LaGuardia Gateway Partners to serve American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Air Canada.
On the eastern half of the airport, Delta’s first new, 105,000-square-foot concourse opened last November as part of the almost 1.2 million-square-foot facility that will ultimately replace two terminals built in phases from the late 1970s through the early 1990s.
“We’re giving New York the gateway it deserves,” said Ryan Marzullo, Delta’s Managing Director of New York Corporate Real Estate. “Delta has invested hundreds of millions of dollars over the years in renovating our existing terminals at LaGuardia, but they were built at a different time for different-sized aircraft and different passenger volumes. Now we’re replacing these facilities to truly benefit our customers, our employees, the city, and the region.”
Delta’s $3.9 billion program will rebuild Terminals C and D over several years into one consolidated facility known as Terminal C. The project includes a headhouse with check-in, security, and baggage claim, as well as 37 gates across four concourses with dual aircraft taxi-lanes serving 33 of those gates. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is contributing $600 million and Delta is funding the balance of project costs.
“We’ll complete 75 percent of construction by early 2022 when we open the headhouse, new roadways, and the second concourse,” Marzullo said.
Making It Fit
When Governor Cuomo announced the LaGuardia rebuild in 2015, Delta was looking at a smaller project to improve operations, working with New York City’s Burns & McDonnell as prime consultant and Corgan as lead architect.
“Rather than issuing a Request for Proposals, we decided to use the design team we already hired through a competitive bid process,” Marzullo said. “I told them, ‘Now we need to rebuild our terminal completely,’ and we were off and running. Where we needed to enhance our team, we brought other firms in to assist.”
Site constraints posed one of the biggest design challenges. “The project is bound on the north by Flushing Bay and on the south by the Grand Central Parkway, so it’s amazingly tight,” said Martin Durney, P.E., LEED AP, Principal and Regional Manager of the Northeast Aviation and Federal Group at Burns & McDonnell.
Within that constrained space, “The driver of the design was making the airfield as efficient as possible,” Marzullo said. “After that we looked at fitting new roadways, and then we went vertical with the new terminal to make it functional in the space that remained. Ultimately, we used that difficult aspect of limited real estate to our advantage, creating a design that’s all about speed and efficiency for our customers.”
Pulling the new terminal closer to the Grand Central Parkway will increase the size of the airfield, allowing for the dual taxi-lanes. New gates will also accommodate larger aircraft.
“Delta’s gates have been so constrained that certain aircraft could only park at certain gates,” explained Rick Ryan, AIA, Associate Principal and Office Director for Corgan. “If an aircraft was already on that gate, it caused delays. The dual taxi-lanes will provide for ease of in and out and the gates accommodating just about all gauges of aircraft will make operations more efficient.”
In designing vehicular traffic flow, “The site didn’t have a lot of linear distance, so the team designed a double roadway system in front of the terminal,” Ryan said. “On the arrivals level, that will allow us to separate personal vehicles picking up passengers from the taxi and for-hire vehicles on two different roadways. That’s designed to ease congestion and enhance the level of passenger service.”
To power the new facilities, “We had to build a new, 12-megawatt electrical substation,” Marzullo said. “With no real estate left on our side of the airport, we decided to go vertical and build it above the first new concourse.”
The design integrated the 21,000-square-foot Con Edison substation into the upper level of the concourse, along with the cooling towers, chillers, pumps, and other mechanical and electrical equipment that will serve the new terminal. “All that infrastructure is ready to go, so now we can connect future project components as they’re built,” Marzullo said.
In addition to the challenge of limited real estate, the project falls into a couple of different flood zones.
“That drove some of the floor heights, which then created challenges with the connections between the airfield and departures level,” Durney said. “The new concourse sits in the most flood-prone area of the airport, so we elevated the departures level and designed the lower levels to allow floodwaters to flow under the building.”
For extra protection, Marzullo said Delta will store large, precast concrete planks in that space under the concourse. When a major storm approaches, they’ll move the planks to designated spots to keep water out of the terminal. Having all major electrical and mechanical equipment housed on the upper level also protects them from flood damage.
Efficiency Through LEED
To maximize operational efficiency, the team is pursuing LEED Silver certification. In addition to energy-efficient HVAC, plumbing, and lighting systems, they incorporated an energy-saving ice storage system.
“We utilize power when it’s cheaper at night to freeze water and create 110,000 gallons of ice storage in 66 tanks,” Durney explained. “During hot summer days, we use the ice to cool mechanical systems for the entire terminal. It’s a win-win with the cost savings as well as shedding use during peak demand.”
In the new concourse and eventually throughout the terminal, “We’re optimizing daylight harvesting,” Ryan said. “Light sensors determine when banks of lights need to turn on, depending on the time of day and the amount of sunlight entering the building.”
In the headhouse, designers also incorporated electrochromic glass. “It will shade itself through an electronic charge on a set schedule or on demand as sunlight is present,” Ryan said.
As part of the overall project goals, “We’re making the new terminal much more energy-efficient and beneficial for our customers, while giving our employees the facilities, technologies, and tools they need to do their jobs better,” Marzullo said.
Editor’s Note: This story is part one of our feature on the new Delta terminal and airfield at LaGuardia Airport. Look for part two, including how construction and demolition work around busy airport operations, in the March issue of Constructioneer.