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How Architects Design North Texas Airports To Meet The Needs Of Tomorrow's Flyers

Courtesy of Corgan
An architectural rendering of Dallas Love Field airport security.

There's a huge parking garage taking shape at Dallas Love Field airport that will provide 5,000 more spaces. It was designed by Dallas-based architecture firm, Corgan.

The company has worked on hundreds of airports around the world, including Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and various incarnations of Love Field.

Jonathan Massey, head of aviation practices for Corgan, talks about the challenges of building an airport for today's demands.

Interview Highlights: Jonathan Massey

...On how airport design has changed: The original Love Field facility, when it was designed, there was no security, there were no concessions, there were no jet bridges. You just walked through the building, walked out onto the apron, walked up the stairs into a DC-10, propeller-driven airplane, and it was just fascinating.

We had to completely re-imagine the terminal and try to keep the hometown convenient feel of the old Love Field, but make it work in today's environment.

...On what makes a functional airport: They're really more machines than buildings. They have so many different systems and a lot of things passengers don't see.

You check in your bag, and you really don't know what happens to it after that. There is a whole baggage system and a screening system for the baggage, and then getting the baggage out to the plane is a whole system that most people don't see.

Then of course, everything else: the I.T., the security cameras, the announcement systems. It's a complex combination of multiple elements that all have to be orchestrated together in a way that makes the journey through the airport for the passenger easy as possible.

...On confusing airport designs: When you're designing buildings from scratch there are certain architectural cues — certain things you can do with light, with windows, with volume — and Love Field is a good example of that.

When you arrive at Love Field, and you're getting off your plane and you come towards the terminal, there's a very high-volume space, clearstory light that's kind of naturally leading you to the exit point. There's very little signage in there that says, "This is the exit." You just know where it is because it's kind of like, "Here are the pearly gates — walk through them." 

So you can do things like that, when you're designing a brand-new facility. It's much more difficult when you're trying to modify a D/FW for example, which to really make substantial changes in a terminal like D/FW, you really have to tear down and start over again.

Jonathan Massey, is head of aviation practices for Dallas-based architecture firm Corgan.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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