Complex Micro-Phasing Keeps Operations at Full Capacity During $3.9B Reconstruction of Delta’s LaGuardia Terminal
Micro-Phasing Means Minimal Disruptions: Tight Site and Busy Operations Require Temporary Structures and Detailed Phasing for Construction of 1.2M Square-Foot LaGuardia Terminal and Demolition of Old Facilities
How do you build a $3.9 billion program spanning almost 1.2 million square feet on a tight site hemmed in by water and a busy parkway without disrupting millions of people who use the facilities every year?
In Delta Air Lines’ ongoing terminal redevelopment project at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, complex micro-phasing and numerous temporary structures allow operations to continue at full capacity. As new project components open, crews demolish old facilities to make room for additional construction.
Part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s vision of a new LaGuardia, Delta’s program on the eastern half of the airport will rebuild outdated Terminals C and D into one modern, consolidated facility known as Terminal C. The project includes a headhouse with check-in, security, and baggage claim; 37 gates across four concourses with dual aircraft taxi-lanes serving 33 of those gates; and updated, more efficient infrastructure. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is contributing $600 million and Delta is funding the balance of project costs.
Last November, the first new, 105,000-square-foot concourse opened. Work on the second, 230,000-square-foot concourse will begin this spring. Construction of the 425,000-square-foot headhouse started in third quarter 2018. Although most of its footprint is located in front of the existing terminals in a former parking lot, the full site wasn’t available until existing roadways closed in January 2019. The headhouse, second concourse, and new roadways are scheduled to open in early 2022.
“Everything after that is relatively minor,” said Ryan Marzullo, Delta’s Managing Director of New York Corporate Real Estate. “The last two concourses will be built behind construction walls so our customers will only see the new gates.”
Project design has been led by a team of New York City firms – Burns & McDonnell as prime consultant, with Corgan as lead architect for the headhouse and first concourse and Gensler as lead architect for the remaining three concourses.
On the construction side, “Delta acts as general contractor, holding all the construction contracts directly with the trades, and we have an agency construction management team to assist with managing those trades,” Marzullo said. “Rather than divest the risk, we elect to manage it. That gives us control over delivery of the program and allows us to be flexible in working around our existing operation.”
A joint venture between STV Incorporated, based in New York City, and Satterfield & Pontikes Construction, Inc., of Houston leads the agency construction management team for the first concourse, headhouse, and new roadways. Turner Construction of New York City joined the team for the second concourse.
Construction began in August 2017 with pile driving for the first concourse. “With LaGuardia so close to the bay and originally built primarily on fill, all the structures are pile-supported,” said Martin Durney, P.E., LEED AP, Principal and Regional Manager of the Northeast Aviation and Federal Group at Burns & McDonnell. “We had to do extensive geotechnical investigations and vary the pile depths because the site changes substantially from east to west.”
In the two-and-a-half years since construction started, crews already completed more than 2 million working hours. The number of contractors onsite will peak around 110 in 2021, with total labor force peaking around 1,000.
To coordinate all the work, “The project is multi-phased, with separate elements (buildings and infrastructure) managed as separate sub-projects,” Marzullo said. “Inter-project coordination is supported and facilitated by integrated Critical Path Method schedules and 4-D models, and by the various project management and field coordination staff working on each sub-project.”
With the site hemmed in by Flushing Bay to the north and the east and the Grand Central Parkway to the south, every aspect of the project required detailed micro-phasing to avoid interrupting Delta’s ongoing operations.
To begin, “Delta and its design team worked with the site to come up with a way to use former public surface parking lots to get construction started,” Durney said.
That allowed completion of the first concourse at the project’s eastern end. Early this year, crews began demolition of Terminal C East. That will finish by the fall so the second concourse can be completed on the existing Terminal C East footprint and a portion of the airfield. Terminal D will come down immediately after the second concourse and headhouse open in 2022, allowing for construction of the third new concourse, then crews will demolish the original Terminal C in order to build the final new concourse in its footprint.
Full capacity of the existing operation will remain throughout construction, aided by the use of remote aircraft hardstands, where passengers load from the ground rather than a bridge connected to the terminal.
“We developed very detailed phasing, grading, paving, and access plans early in the design process in order to relocate the hardstands around ongoing construction,” Durney said.
Project plans also include temporary roads and ramps, and relocation of passenger taxi, Uber, and Lyft queues. “We conducted very detailed traffic analysis and modeling to facilitate traffic flow,” Durney said.
In fact, one of the first project elements activated was a temporary steel bridge that connects Terminal C and Terminal D departure roads, allowing crews to demolish existing ramps inside the new headhouse footprint. The 460-foot-long, modular structure from Acrow Bridge, headquartered in Parsippany, New Jersey, includes six sets of towers and will stay in place for four years as construction progresses.
To connect the two fixed, elevated roadways, the bridge required a skewed configuration at the western abutments. “The alignment and configuration of the bridge were driven by the existing departure frontage geometry, the area available below the bridge for driving piles and building foundations, and standard code requirements,” Durney said.
Special designs and fabrications accomplished the transition from the wider main bridge to the narrower approach. The main bridge includes four, 30-foot-wide spans with a total length of 380 feet. Beam bridges form the approaches. The eastern end measures 35 feet long by 30 feet wide and the western end measures 45 feet long by 24 feet wide.
Crews erected the modular bridge in just 40 days in late 2018. “Offsite prefabrication cut down on custom, on-site fabrication in order to stay on schedule,” Durney said. “It also helped with staging, as the construction site is limited with the active airport.”
In addition to that bridge, “Several other temporary ramp structures are being utilized to maintain the project schedule and enable demolition activities without impacting permanent construction,” Marzullo said. “In several phases of the project, modular, temporary pedestrian connector bridges and corridors will bypass construction operations and maintain the customer experience while also keeping the project on schedule.”
Just because they’re temporary doesn’t mean they’re not up to par with the rest of the terminal. For example, “If you’re traveling from existing Terminal D to the new concourse, you wouldn’t notice you’re in a modular element,” Durney said. “The finishes within the connector bridges and corridors are of a nature that many passengers won’t even realize they’re walking through a temporary structure.”
As new project elements are brought online, enhanced and expanded amenities and concessions will continue to improve the customer experience.
Through all the work for the new terminal, “We’re leaving our mark on an exceptionally high-profile project that millions of people will experience and enjoy as they travel to and from New York City for decades to come,” Marzullo said.
Editor’s Note: This story is part two of our feature on the Delta terminal and airfield reconstruction at LaGuardia Airport. Part one appeared in the February issue of Constructioneer.