The Indianapolis International Airport (IND) marked a milestone on Nov. 7 as the Colonel H. Weir Cook Terminal, which was master planned and designed by HOK, celebrated its 10-year anniversary.
The 1.2-million-sq.-ft. steel-and-glass pavilion has a monumental “Civic Plaza” central hall where art, retail, social and civic functions converge and passengers can connect with the Indiana landscape. Capped with a hyperbolic glass and steel skylight, this room has become a threshold to the “crossroads of America.” A five-story window wall offers views of downtown Indianapolis in the distance. At the time it was built, the airport redevelopment was the largest civic project in the city’s history.
For seven of the past 10 years (including the last six years), the airport has been recognized in the Airports Council International Airport Service Quality Awards as the best airport in North America for those serving more than two million passengers. And Condé Nast Traveler’s readers have ranked it the top U.S. airport for the past five years.
A recent study by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute showed that IND was one of the state’s key business drivers, providing a $5.4 billion annual economic impact on the region.
The LEED-certified terminal helped IND become the world’s first complete airport campus to earn LEED certification. IND also has established the country’s largest electric airport shuttle bus fleet and maintains the world’s largest solar farm on an airport property.
“The city and the airport administration wanted this new terminal to reshape the overall airport, to redefine the perception of Indianapolis and to position Indiana as a 21st-century center for life sciences, research, art and technology,” said Robert Chicas, HOK’s director of Aviation + Transportation. “We had an exceptional HOK team, great local partners and both the mayor of Indianapolis and the airport’s project director pushed us toward an innovative, flexible design that has delivered great value for the entire region. It continues to be recognized for offering customer service that is among the best in any North American airport.”
“HOK was awarded this project in 2001, just before the horrific events of 9/11,” remembered Ripley Rasmus, AIA, the lead designer for the terminal. “The airport asked our team to pause and then returned to us feeling resolved to move forward with a project that would redefine the concept of the air terminal in the post-9/11 environment. The result is the first post-9/11, greenfield and sustainably driven airport. Our design concept acknowledges the local landscape, defining it as a place that is uniquely ‘Indiana’ and preparing Indy to prosper deep into the 21st century.”
Mario Rodriguez, executive director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, said the terminal’s success is due to expert forethought, talented and diverse businesses, community support and the more than 22,000 people that help support the airport operating each day.
“We’ve come a long way over the past 10 years,” said Rodriguez. “We now have direct flights to nearly every major market on the West Coast, a nonstop transatlantic flight to Paris, $20 million of investment pledged from the state to encourage more international routes and we annually contribute an economic impact to the tune of more than $5 billion.”
Rodriguez, along with Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, Governor Eric Holcomb, former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, former Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) Board President Ambassador Randall Tobias and past and present IAA board officers and airport officials, recently gathered at a private event to commemorate the terminal’s journey from being a concept on a napkin to a shining example for airports around the world. “Thanks to forward-thinking planning, our community constructed a modern gateway to the world which plays a vital role in the continued economic success of Indianapolis,” noted Mayor Hogsett.
As the IAA looks toward the next 10 years, the Indy airport and its airline partners will be adding new locally themed retail and restaurant space and more customer-friendly technology, such as charging stations and self bag-tag kiosks. Other upgrades being explored include technology that allows passengers to order food at the gate and infrastructure changes to accomodate autonomous vehicles.
“With a continued commitment to customer satisfaction and maximizing public value, we look forward to continued successes in the years to come,” said Rodriguez.