Lead Architect for Chicago’s $8.5 Billion O’Hare International Airport Expansion Announced: Studio Gang Led by Jeanne Gang


O'Hare Global Terminal and Global Concourse by Studio ORD from Studio Gang on Vimeo.

Studio Gang, founded by Jeanne Gang, will be the architectural firm that will lead a team of architects tapped to design the $8.5 billion O’Hare International Airport expansion, according to an announcement Wednesday from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“We’re an aviation capital, an airport capital, and a capital for architecture. The investment “brings all three strengths together in one endeavor.”

— Rahm Emanuel

The project is expected to break ground in 2023 after contract negotiations are settled.

The new 2.2 million square-foot O’Hare Global Terminal will be more than twice the size of Terminal 2. The O’Hare Global Terminal will feature additional gates, more space for concessions, lounges, new baggage systems and improved security screening. Transported between domestic and international flights at O’Hare will be more convenient and more seamless.

Studio ORD proposed a sculpted, three-part terminal that wraps around a towering skylit atrium. Inspired by the airport’s original name — Orchard Field, which the reason for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) ORD airport code designation. The terminal’s interior will include greenery and nature-inspired architecture with columns that resemble trees and live trees and patches of grass in the floor.

The Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners were selected from among five high-powered, global teams of architects on Chicago’s short list. The identities of the committee members (unknown city officials and airline representatives) making the selection were kept secret to prevent them from being subject to lobbying.

“Throughout its history, Chicago architecture has always brought form and function together and is the reason why Chicago is known as the ‘City that Works’.  We at the United family are thrilled to see that tradition continue and another gem added to Chicago’s architectural crown with the unveiling of the new design for one of the city’s most important landmarks: O’Hare.”

— United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz

“This selection ensures that O’Hare’s future is bright as an airport leading globally in design, amenities and the customer experience. American is appreciative of the thoughtful approach our partners at the City of Chicago brought to this process and we look forward to our continued collaboration.” 

— American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker

The other teams that made the short list were Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza Joint Venture Partners; Foster Epstein Moreno Joint Venture Partners; Santiago Calatrava LLC; and Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill. One of these architectural teams will be selected to design two satellite concourses that will be built west of Terminal 1.

The city has said the expansion will be funded by airport revenues, not taxpayer dollars. The makeover is the largest and most expensive terminal expansion and remodel in O’Hare’s history.

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