Orlando International’s $3 billion high-tech, low-touch terminal set to open in July

Diving brief:

  • Orlando International Airport’s largest expansion is about 90% complete, according to a Greater Orlando Aviation Authority press release shared with Construction Dive. The three-level Terminal C South project in Florida’s busiest airport will cover 300 acres, add 15 gates to accommodate up to 20 aircraft and serve an additional 10 to 12 million passengers each year, according to the release.
  • A Turner-Kiewit joint venture provided construction management services for landside Terminal C, Hensel Phelps was construction manager for airside Terminal C and Vanderlande was the design/build/operate/maintain contractor for the project of about 3 billion dollars.
  • The new terminal features a high-tech, low-touch design, and aims to achieve a high green building standard as the world’s first LEEDv4 airport campus. Construction began in 2017 and the terminal is expected to open in July, according to the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA).

Overview of the dive:

The contractors ran into supply chain issues during the construction process, Jeff Justen, vice president and chief commercial officer of Turner Construction, told Construction Dive in an email. They were able to find alternative options through collaboration with GOAA, the design team and suppliers.

The design of arrivals on the top floor of South Terminal C is unique and aims to center travelers, who will be greeted with views of the local landscape, a variety of art and trees. Arriving passengers collect checked baggage at the same level where they disembark.

“[The airport design must] provide a “sense of place” reflected in its architecture and Central Florida character,” Curtis Fentress, principal design officer at Fentress Architects, said in the release. “With the innovative skylight that produces a dappled, passengers will feel good as they pass through an orange grove, one of this region’s most beloved local features. We have also used plants, trees and new technologies to improve the passenger experience.”

For a simpler and more efficient screening process, the new terminal has fully automated screening lanes at TSA checkpoints, 100% facial recognition cameras for international arrivals and departures, and a processing system for RFID luggage quieter and allowing passengers to track their luggage.

The terminal includes an experimental multimedia environment with 32 curved digital screens suspended from the ceiling, more than 6,500 LED wall tiles and three 33-foot-high panoramic screens that will display an array of multimedia and programmable content.

“The screens will immerse passengers in a Florida-friendly environment, from door to curb,” Justen said. “These innovations, along with many other high-tech, passenger-centric aspects, were planned before the pandemic.”

Representation of the “town square” of terminal C.

Courtesy of Orlando International Airport

Connected and climate-friendly design

The project has several environmental goals, including a 28% reduction in energy costs, a 44% reduction in potable water use, better waste diversion and improved indoor air quality, according to Justen.

To achieve this, aircraft parked at the terminal will use pre-conditioned air and will not need to run auxiliary power units, which will reduce noise and CO2 emissions. GOAA will also use reclaimed water for all landscaping. The terminal uses more than 40 products with environmental product declarations, which communicate their composition and environmental impact throughout their life cycle, Justen said.

An adjacent project is the new South Intermodal Terminal which includes multimodal stations, bus stations, surface parking lots and platforms for intercity, commuter and light rail, according to Turner’s website. The facility includes an elevated passenger transfer system that connects to the automated people mover and parking garage, also under construction.

Brightline completed last month a section of its expansion from Orlando Airport to West Palm Beach and the SunRail commuter rail line can also connect to terminal in the future.

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