Writing in The Atlantic, Ian Bogost hails LaGuardia Airport as “an incredible airport” and “an unexpected hero for infrastructural renewal.”
LaGuardia’s Terminal B has also earned an Honor Award in the 2022 AIANYS Design Awards, with AIANYS 2022 President Pasquale Marchese praising the architects for their “creative solutions” that have a “profound impact on the communities they serve.”
A recent Atlantic article explores how Terminal B’s innovative design has contributed to LaGuardia’s transformation. Excerpted from The Atlantic:
“Hero for American Infrastructural Renewal”
“In 2004, Steven Spielberg made an entire movie about the terror of getting stuck for months in an airport, but I might be happy never to leave the new LaGuardia. … For a very long time, New York City’s LaGuardia Airport felt like the intricately dressed set of an apocalypse film. Spread across its terminals were abandoned check-in stands gone feral, floors damp with discharged moistures, low ceilings looming over dark corridors. Now, near the end of a nine-year, $8 billion rebuild of its main terminals and roadways, LaGuardia has become an unexpected hero for American infrastructural renewal. It is an incredible airport.
“Terminal B, which houses most airlines, feels like a theme park—in a good way. Delta’s Terminal C, still under construction, has had its cramped and dingy concourses replaced with airy new spaces and a swank, cavernous airline club. Across the airport, sedans and taxis breeze through drop-offs and pickups unencumbered. The aircraft taxiways flow now too, making arrivals and departures more efficient. Slowly, word is getting out. People return from the Big Apple and talk about their trip to its airport instead of its restaurants or museums or theaters.”
“Airlines and their passengers have conflicting goals. An airline wants to get passengers to the gates and on the planes on time. Passengers want to avoid the boredom and discomfort that comes with spending time in airport seats. The only available distractions—walking, looking, shopping, eating, and entertainment—come at the cost of anxiety around departure.
“Terminal B attempts to address this problem in its physical design. A central check-in and security space leads to this commercial zone, which then branches out to two concourses of gates, each accessed via a glass sky bridge that rises over the taxiways, planes passing underneath. Large, continuously updated signage shows travelers the timing of their flights. Human agents flank these signs, ready to answer questions and give advice.”
“The new LaGuardia aspires to be not just any airport, but New York City’s airport. The fountain show in Terminal B offers place-ness; so do local-business outlet shops, installations by local artists, and expansive views of the Manhattan skyline.”
Sky Bridges Preserve Operations
“The constraint to keep the airport fully operational got baked into the new design. At Terminal B, the dramatic sky bridges that ferry passengers from the commercial center to the concourses were put there not for drama, but to allow the builders to keep the old airport operating beneath the bridges while the new one was constructed (after which the old terminals were demolished and turned into taxiways).”
“The terminal is a place you want to be in rather than one you wish would just spit you out again. This is LaGuardia’s first lesson for rebuilders. Infrastructure can’t just serve a functional purpose, not anymore. It has to offer an experience.”