Monday, September 9, 2013

Airport Beauties

All the recent travel we've been doing lately has reminded me that set apart from the traffic and congestion and suitcases scurrying about, an airport can really be a wondrous place - particularly when you consider all the planning and design that goes into one. I have this romantic view of air travel anyway- probably because I grew up in an era when there weren't yet thousands of flights happening simultaneously and the ability to travel across the world in a just a few hours was not taken for granted. Admittingly, I forego the sweat pants and still dress for a flight, even if in some small way just to honor the majesty of what it means to experience this luxury. 

I always think of the Arrivals terminal as the grand entrance to a new city and the design and decoration of the building should be more than just efficiency. That's a difficult task when you are presented with the challenge of moving millions of customers through the doors each day. But it really is a traveler's first impression, isn't it?  Walking the terrazzo corridor at Miami International recently, with its brass inlay, I really felt special, like the city had rolled out the red carpet just for me. The thought that the city and its design team took the time to consider presentation in this day and age of "budget travel" really left an impression on me. We never even left the terminal and two weeks later I'm still daydreaming about it - and frankly, what lies just outside the doors. 

This idea lead me to do a little more research into the majesty of airport design. Below are a handful of beauty shots and some background on a few of the most gorgeous welcome mats in the world.

The tensile fabric canopies used in the design at Denver Airport is an iconic interpretation of the famed snowcapped Rocky Mountains in the background. But the design is environmentally responsible as well. The fabric allows 10% of natural light to penetrate the canvas drastically reducing the need for electricity, while reflecting 90% of solar radiation in the high altitude environment.  The airport also has it's own solar farm, generating 3.5 million kilowatts of electricity annually.
Designed by local Denver Architect Curtis Fentress
Image by Ellen Jaskol via Architonic

A Walk on the Beach is a half mile art installation just past security in Terminal 2 of Miami International Airport. Passengers board and depart across an illuminated corridor comprised of two thousand unique cast bronze elements embedded in a dark gray terrazzo matrix with scatterings of mother of pearl - all meant to evoke the plants and sea life of Miami's shallow coastal waters.
Designed by Michelle Oka Donner

The Terminal 2 departures lounge at Benito Juarez International Airport, Mexico City. The sustainable structure was completed in 2009 and constructed to flood the terminal with natural light without any thermal gain. Water is treated in house and the building is naturally ventilated. The terminal also has it's own data center which regulates water, electricity and media, making it a truly state of the art design.
Designed by Serrano Monjaraz Arquitectos
Images Via: Formness

Menara Airport, Marrakech. In 2008, the airport was extended with a contemporary wing complete with 24 rhombuses and printed glass depicting ancient Islamic motives. One of the primary objectives of this project was to give arriving passengers a view of modern Moroccan architecture while preserving traditions. It's all about the light when it comes to this project. The adjacent outdoor canopy provides filtered shade while indoors, the lighting is meant to reflect a similar atmosphere found in a traditional mosque.  
Designed by E2A Architecture and CR Architecture
Images Via: Virginia Duran and Lower Hotels

The ceiling at Barajas International Airport, Madrid. With 200,000 M2 of gently curved laths, this is the largest bamboo project in the world.
Designed by Richard Rogers
Image Via: Archello

The Arrivals tunnel in Terminal 6 at Los Angeles International Airport. This storied wall tile was lost for decades when the tunnel was closed for airport renovation. To the delight of design enthusiasts everywhere, it re-opened to more efficiently usher arriving passengers to baggage claim in 2011. The tiles are meant to depict a journey across the United States.
Commissioned in 1961 and installed at the direction of Interior Designer/Architect Charles D. Kratka, this installation is considered to be his best known Modernist effort.

The view above Newark Airport in the intro image was captured by Photographer Jeffrey Milstein and is a part of his series "Flying" which takes a look at airport design from above, shot from low altitudes.
Image Via: Slate



Albertina M. Cisneros said...

SUch an interesting perspective! ANd I knew you would put some photos of the Madrid airport...cause its just so cool. It doesn't matter how many times I've been there and how exhausted I am I always snap a photo or too....

sharon smith said...

What a cool post! I've worked in-flight service for 20 years and have been around! I have always seen the terminals full of people. What a quiet and reflective perspective! Nicely done.....

Trissta said...

I have always enjoyed looking at airport designs when I travel. I have yet to be to any of these airports, but I definitely will be considering them now! I spent an overnight layover in Atlanta, and I have to say that place is by far, the WORST airport EVER! Okay, not really, I may be biased against it, but still. HORRIBLE. I do love the inlaid brass of the Miami airport, I've seen it before in a Botanical Garden in Grand Rapids, MI. They're pretty cool!

Much Love,

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