SEE WHAT’S LANDING SOON
March 29, 2019
April 1, 2019
Work begins on the relocation of the center elevator that services the tunnel to ticket lobby. Excavation begins for the new portion of the terminal building.
The new portion of the terminal starts to take shape as steel begins to be erected.
Exterior of the new building is mostly complete. Interior finishes begin including installation of terrazzo art.
TSA moves to new checkpoint. Town Square, four gates and observation gallery open to the public.
Heading: 90 Degrees
As Oklahoma City continues to grow and thrive, so does the airport. Just look at the steady increase in passenger traffic at WRWA. For two years in a row (2017 and 2018) the airport set all-time records for the number of travelers utilizing WRWA. And 2019 is already surpassing those figures. We’re as they say, on a roll.
With this growth comes opportunities for new routes and new airlines. It also comes with the demand for more capacity. So, we are expanding to the east. In aviation terms, we’re on a 90-degree heading.
To better meet the needs of the airlines and their expanding service at WRWA, we’re adding more gates. We’re increasing the circulation for travelers to better navigate the facility and we’re allocating space to handle international service when the time comes.
We’re improving the security screening process by creating a centralized checkpoint, allowing TSA to screen passengers more efficiently and easily adapt to changes with minimal impact on the traveler.
We haven’t forgotten the visitors – the parents, the grandparents, the kids and aviation enthusiasts of all ages. For them we’re adding a suspended observation gallery that provides views of the airfield and the concourse. No airline ticket needed.
Elements such as angled beams, native stone, wood paneling, and stainless-steel, tie the old to the new. But new architectural features take our terminal from impressive to sensational. A column-free lobby and checkpoint area creates an open inviting area for passengers to begin their journey. In the concourse, expansive clerestory windows provide an abundance of natural light and sweeping views of the airfield. A large atrium with a massive skylight will be a place for people to gather, work and relax.
Construction is underway with an expected completion date in the second quarter of 2021. As the building expands to the east, we begin to see the impact this significant project will have on our airport. On our community. We’re heading 90 degrees. We’re heading forward to meet the future.
Centralized Security Checkpoint
The last terminal expansion got underway in 2001. At that time, the general public had access to the concourse. The terminal design was based on this flow of people to and from the concourse. After 9/11, the Transpiration Security Administration was formed, and numerous security measures were implemented, including more intense screening of bags and passengers and limiting access to the concourse to those with airline tickets. This required more equipment, more personnel and more space in areas not designed for these significant changes in operations. The result was equipment squeezed into extremely tight locations, crowding at the entry points and “creep” into public circulation space.
This expansion project creates a new centralized checkpoint. Designed to TSA standards, it will streamline the passenger screening process as well as improve wait times. It allows TSA to accommodate dedicated lanes for specific groups such as people with disabilities, TSA PreCheck, or family-only lanes. The column-free layout gives TSA flexibility to reconfigure the area as technology, equipment, and procedures evolve.
Over the last decade, the terminal has experienced increased congestion. Certainly, the growth in the number of passengers has been a factor, but changes in the ways the airlines operate such as the addition of kiosks in the ticket counter queuing areas and varying methods for aircraft boarding, have also contributed. While improving customer processing, these procedures have crowded certain areas where people generally circulate. Adding more circulation area is a big element of the expansion. The ease with which people can move within the terminal directly impacts the customer experience.
The expansion designers began in the lobby area in front of the new security checkpoint. Here, passengers coming to the checkpoint will have room to wait for other members of their party, say last minute goodbyes and prepare to go through the checkpoint. This lobby area also has one of two access points to the public observation area.
The center elevator that serves all three levels of the building (ticketing, baggage and tunnel) is being relocated. Moving the elevator closer to the building’s facade will significantly open the space in both the ticketing and baggage lobbies creating a clearer line-of-sight and easing congestion and confusion.
Once passengers have passed through the checkpoint, they enter a large town square. Functionally, it is an area where travelers can pause, gather their belongings and as we like to say, “recombobulate”. Aesthetically, the space is wide-open with a grand skylight and floor-to-ceiling windows. Travelers can relax, enjoy a snack or beverage, admire the terrazzo art (more on that later,) or just enjoy views of the airfield.
Last, but not least, is the addition of greeter lobbies. Currently, there is not a designated space or convenient area for greeting friends and family. Once the new checkpoint is open, the old checkpoints will be converted into spacious lobbies with seating, flight information monitors and lots of hugging room.
Public Observation Lounge
The airport is reviving a tradition lost at most commercial airports - the ability to come to the airport and watch planes just for the fun of it. The public observation lounge will be located on the mezzanine level above the town square and provide views of the concourse and the airfield. Now, non-ticketed visitors will be able to view the aircraft activity in an inviting, comfortable atmosphere and hopefully inspire the next generation of pilots, aerospace engineers, and astronauts.
As part of the Oklahoma City Airport Trust’s commitment to public art, an artist was commissioned to design and oversee installation of two architecturally integrated works of art – terrazzo flooring in the lobby and concourse areas, and a glass wall in the public observation lounge. Submissions were received from regional, national and international artists, but it was Oklahoma City native Matt Goad and his design OKConnected that wowed the selection jury. Matt’s design is the story of Oklahoma City. It connects the City’s past to present to future. It has multiple aspects that visitors will enjoy over and over, finding new things to see and appreciate with each visit.
Future Custom Facilities
Airlines have shown interest in potentially serving Oklahoma City with international leisure destinations such as Cancun, Mexico. However, the challenge is the lack of Federal Inspection Services (FIS) in the terminal. FIS facilities are required by U.S. Customs to process arriving international passengers. Because of constrained U.S. Customs and Border Protection resources, U.S. Customs cannot commit to an FIS facility in OKC. We are confident that it is not “if”, but “when” FIS become a reality. And we will be prepared. The amount of space required for FIS is significant, that is why this expansion includes 30,000 square feet of shell space for a future facility. A small section will be built out in this project to function as a waiting area for international flights that might be diverted to Oklahoma City. In the meantime, Airport leadership will continue to remind U.S. Customs of the opportunities for international travel in OKC and lobby for the need of a FIS facility.
A Few Other Things …
Concessions: The new concourse will have two new locations for food and beverage. As of now, we do not know specifically what the offerings will be. The reason being, about the same time as completion of the expansion, the entire food and beverage operations will be transitioning to a new program. The new program will be a mix of venues that reflects the culinary vibrancy of Oklahoma City along with the need for quick, easy food selections.
Lactation Room: Designed to give mom’s a place to nurse or pump breast milk, the new lactation room is located past security right by the town square. It will have a door that can be locked, a comfortable chair, a sink and a changing station. This room will complement the existing nursery space that is located next to the food court.
Indoor Pet Relief Area: As we see more and more four-legged friends flying these days we want to make sure they are accommodated once through security. Located just past the checkpoint, the room is wheelchair accessible and equipped with a relief area, disposal bags and a sink. A second existing relief area is located outdoors in the garden plaza on the baggage claim level for arriving pets.