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HOK’s Robert Chicas Talks About Designing Resilient, 100-Year Airports

Robert Chicas

A recent power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport highlighted a larger problem with aging U.S. airports.

Though experts agreed the airport was successful in handling the outage, it underscored the aging infrastructure of American airports.

Excerpts from the NBC News article:

“Lately, I’ve been citing Grand Central Terminal in New York. Grand Central celebrated its 100 anniversary [in 2013]. It’s as relevant and valid today as the day it was built,” said Robert Chicas, HOK’s director of Aviation + Transportation. “So whereas we’re used to talking about airports and designing airports for next 30 to 50 years, I think we should be talking about 80 to 100 years.”

Also when it comes to the future of airport design, Chicas said the horizon is still too short. China and some Middle Eastern countries have been global leaders at building innovative, first-class airports.

“Because they have the resources to build fabulous facilities, they are now rich in new 21st-century airports,” Chicas said of the other countries. “The U.S. on the other hand, we’ve done a really good job of modernizing and remaining competitive in the world aviation industry. Our challenge is we have older airports that, for primarily commercial reasons, can’t be replaced in a wholesale manner.”

Airports are unable to fully shutter or be demolished and rebuilt because of the loss of both revenue and accessible travel. “We’re definitely making major strides in improving aviation infrastructure but forced to move at slower pace than other parts of the world,” Chicas said.

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