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Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Canopy and Modernization Program

Atlanta, Georgia
The north canopy lights up to welcome visitors to Atlanta for the Super Bowl.

A 20-year expansion and modernization program is underway to enhance the passenger experience and meet the evolving needs of the busiest airport in the United States. HOK has led the joint venture team designing improvements to the domestic passenger terminal.

The design outfitted the terminal with two soaring structural steel canopies with translucent ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) fabric panels. Visible from air and land, the twin structures each measure 864 feet by 200 feet and cover eight lanes of traffic at curbside drop-off and pick-up areas.

The canopies provide a welcoming ‘front door’ that protects travelers, the roadway and the building facade from Atlanta’s ever-changing weather. The inflated ETFE pillows create a thermal barrier that has reduced the solar heat gain by at least 50 percent.

The programmable LED lighting display has become a symbol of Atlanta and a civic storytelling device. With more than 3,400 light fixtures embedded into each canopy, a mix of illuminated colors and patterns illuminate the twin structures at night.

“Passengers enjoy protection from the elements and comment daily on the beauty of the structure,” said John Selden, former general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “These canopies will truly become iconic architectural landmarks for the city of Atlanta.”

HOK’s architects and engineers developed a parametric modeling and optimization tool called HOK STREAM to accelerate the design process and inform the construction approach. Using STREAM shaved weeks off the design process and led the integrated team to an innovative, ultra-efficient solution. Cladding the canopies with ETFE instead of traditional glazing cut their weight by half. STREAM models shared with the team enabled carefully orchestrated construction phasing that allowed the terminal to operate with minimal disruption.

The team also designed upgrades to the existing terminal to bring in more daylight. The precast concrete facade was re-skinned with metal panels, new storefront clerestories and glazing.

The HJ+P joint venture team includes Stanley, Love-Stanley, P.C., and Chasm Architecture, L.L.C. The team won a Soar Award in the ATLNext Maynard H. Jackson Jr. Legacy Awards. The award recognized the team’s extensive use of small, minority and women-owned firms.

60,000 sq. ft. / 5,575 sq. m
NCSEA Excellence in Structural Engineering Award
ENR Southeast Best Projects – Airport
AISC Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel (IDEAS²) Award
Airports Council International – Airport Service Quality Awards, Best Airport at Arrivals Globally
AIA Georgia Design Award – Renovation/Restoration/Adaptive Reuse
AIA ASPIRE Design Award – Renovation/Restoration/Adaptive Reuse
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