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HOK Aviation Projects Illustrate CBS News Story on Best New U.S. Airports

HOK is part of the LaGuardia Gateway Partners team (along with Vantage Airport Group, Skanska, Meridiam and WSP) behind the new $4 billion LaGuardia Airport Terminal B redevelopment project. The eastern concourse opened in November 2018.

In search of the best examples of U.S. airports, CBS Sunday Morning lands at Indianapolis International Airport and the all-new LaGuardia.

Excerpted from CBS Sunday Morning News:

Kris Van Cleave [CBS Sunday Morning correspondent] had to go almost 10,000 miles to Singapore to visit what is often considered the world’s best airport. But when you’re talking about the best airport in the U.S. or North America, you go … to Indiana.

“Absolutely! Why wouldn’t you come to Indiana?” said Mario Rodriguez, the executive director of the Indianapolis International Airport. For seven years in a row, it has been ranked North America’s best by the Airports Council International.

HOK designed the 40-gate terminal at Indianapolis International Airport with a monumental “civic plaza” central hall featuring 35-foot ceilings where art, retail, social and civic functions merge with the passenger experience.

Opened in 2008, Indianapolis is the first airport terminal in the U.S. designed with post-9/11 security in mind. Its high ceilings and large windows let in ample natural light, which better illuminates the local restaurants and global artwork. There’s even live music on Fridays.

The average airport in the U.S. is now 40 years old, and experts estimate $128 billion in new investment is needed over the next five years just to keep up with the growing number of flyers.

That fear [of U.S. travel experience getting worse] has led to a nationwide building boom, with major overhauls in progress at nearly 50 airports—including Orlando, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City (image below).

HOK’s design for Salt Lake City Airport establishes a unified 78-gate facility that is essentially creating an entirely new airport in Utah’s capital.

But none is as ambitious as the project underway at what may be America’s most notorious airport: New York’s LaGuardia.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo knew LaGuardia had become the butt of jokes: “When vice president Joe Biden made that comment about LaGuardia [comparing it to an airport in a third-world nation], many of the New York-area elected officials were outraged that he would criticize LaGuardia. I said the exact opposite; I said, ‘The vice president is right!'”

HOK provided master planning advisory services for LaGuardia Airport redevelopment in collaboration with the Port Authority and Delta Air Lines, which operates Terminal C and D on the airport’s east end.

And in 2016 Cuomo made an $8 billion bet he could make those jokes a thing of the past. Three of the four existing terminals are being completely rebuilt to create a state-of-the-art, unified airport.

“This is representative of what we’re talking about by a world-class design,” said Cuomo.

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