Studio ORD lands $8.5bn Chicago airport expansion

29 March 2019
Credit: Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners
  • Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners


United States

Collaborative venture to deliver first global alliance terminal in the United States

The City of Chicago has selected an architect team to lead the design of the ambitious $8.5 billion expansion program for O’Hare International Airport. As the first global alliance hub in the United States, the redevelopment will locate domestic airlines and international carriers in the same terminal, allowing passengers to connect easily between flights. The search for a lead architect for the new terminal and concourse was launched by a request for qualifications in June 2018, followed by a request for proposals issued later in the year to five shortlisted teams. Now, the winners have been announced as Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners, a collaborative venture led by Studio Gang in partnership with Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB), Corgan, Milhouse Engineering and Construction and STL Architects.

The winning design echoes the confluence of the Chicago River, with three converging branches creating a central hub to establish a new neighbourhood at the heart of the airport. A dramatic Oculus welcomes visitors under a six-pointed glass skylight, with its geometry referencing the Chicago flag. When seen from above, the building greets passengers with a easily recognizably Chicago icon: the city’s “Y symbol,” or Municipal Device, that represents the branching Chicago River. “Every aspect of the design is focused on creating a uniquely Chicago experience,” said Jeanne Gang, founding principal of Studio Gang and lead designer of Studio ORD. “It embodies the city’s fundamental geographic asset: a place of convergence of paths of movement both natural and manmade. Our design creates a new Chicago neighbourhood that reflects the culture, traditions, and diversity of the city. Its exposed structure, interior streets, and bustling activity express our city’s trajectory as a centre of movement, exchange, and growth.”

The bid team itself facilitated local connections, as Studio ORD plans to create partnerships supporting small companies to gain airport experience. Chief Procurement Officer Shannon E. Andrews stated: “We are excited that the winning team has committed to substantial mentor-protégé agreements as part of their plan, to ensure that local firms will benefit from the economic activity of this major project.” 

The O’Hare Global Terminal is currently slated to break ground in 2023. 

Lucy Nordberg
TenderStream Head of Research

This request for qualifications was first published by TenderStream on 20.06.2018 here

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