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Robert Chicas Discusses Improving the Passenger Experience with Property Week

From wellness to technology to designing for a sense of place, HOK’s director of Aviation + Transportation discusses what travelers can expect from the airport experience of the future.

Excerpted from Property Week:

HOK’s Robert Chicas recently shared his thoughts on the latest innovations in airport design and how technology could eventually mean that airports require less space.

Sense of Place

While functionality of design is vital, individuality is important, too. Chicas says one often overlooked aspect of airport design is the need to reflect the city or country in which the airport resides “so that your experience landing at Heathrow is fundamentally different to landing in Los Angeles or in Paris.”

He cites the example of California’s Long Beach Airport (top image), where HOK designed outdoor waiting areas complete with palm trees, fire pits and wine bars.

“It’s the classic example of an airport that truly reflects, conceptually, what the place is about. The terminal couldn’t be anywhere else other than Long Beach.”

Creating a sense of place can be taken a step further. At Indianapolis International Airport, the city mayor felt that rather than reflect what the city of Indianapolis was famous for, most notably college basketball, auto racing and agriculture, it should reflect what the city wanted to be known for: life sciences, research and technology.

Future-Proofing Terminals

Technology is likely to be the driving force behind significant future changes, but airports will not necessarily require more space to accommodate this.

“Technology could eventually lead to less space being needed. If the current trajectory continues, we’re not going to need to go through a security checkpoint, at least not as we know them now. People will be screened and checked silently and invisibly, simply by walking through a portal,” says Chicas.

What all this comes down to, he adds, is designing for resiliency and sustainability.

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