When the city of Chicago determined to build a major expansion of O’Hare Airport by adding a new Global Terminal, it launched an international competition, soliciting expertise from around the world. As announced today by Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, the winner of the competition, Studio ORD, comes with a made-in-Chicago imprimatur. Led by Chicago architect Jeanne Gang, Studio ORD, as the competition team called itself, consists of several companies,
including Studio Gang, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, Corgan, Milhouse Engineering and Construction, and another local design firm, STL Architects. As Emanuel said in a statement, “The City of Chicago called up on teams from across the city and around the world to lead O’Hare’s historic expansion, and Studio ORD answered that call.”
A central oculus features a six-pointed skylight, referencing the geometry of the stars found on Chicago’s flag.
Set to break ground in 2023, the project will add a 2.2 million-square-foot Global Terminal and Concourse—at a cost of $2.2 billion. The designers laid out the terminal as a Y shape. This will not only maximize runway adjacency, but it also references Chicago’s identity. When seen from above, the shape resembles Chicago’s official symbol, the Y shape of the Chicago River. “As a native Chicagoan, I understand deeply the importance of O’Hare to our city’s identity,” said Gang in a statement.
Chicago’s O’Hare is the third most trafficked airport in the country, behind Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Inside the proposed building, a soaring roof will be supported by slender Y-shaped columns. Lush plantings under a wood ceiling will create an environment meant to offset the stress of air travel. A vast central skylight will provide a naturally lit space. The project is part of a $8.5 billion expansion to O’Hare’s Terminal 2, which, together with Studio ORD’s new building, will integrate international and domestic operations at O’Hare.
At 2.2 million square feet, the new terminal will offer twice the space of the previous one.
The announcement of Studio ORD’s winning proposal comes as the culmination of an international design competition. In January 2019, the city shortlisted five teams: Studio ORD, SOM, Santiago Calatrava, a joint venture led by Colorado-based Fentress Architects, and a partnership between Foster + Partners, Epstein, Moreno. As Emanuel put it, Studio ORD had “the experience, expertise, and the talent needed to work with the City of Chicago as we usher in a new era at O’Hare.”