If you fly regularly around the United States, there’s a good chance that you’ve passed through Chicago O’Hare International Airport — it’s the sixth busiest airport in the world by passenger volume with 80 million passengers annually. Because it’s so busy and wants to offer travelers the best possible experience, ORD is planning an $8.5 billion makeover that will grow the overall terminal square footage by more than 60 percent and increase gate frontage by 25 percent by 2026.
To make sure that those who actually use the airport are satisfied with the changes, ORD set up a design competition for the terminal expansion, and you can vote for your favorite one. There are currently five design teams remaining, so check them out and make your choice to be part of Chicago O’Hare International Airport’s future.
Design 1: Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza
“The Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza Joint Venture’s globally minded terminal design for Chicago provides an elegant, spacious, and sustainable gateway to connect Chicagoans and the world with speed and efficiency. Soaring spaces sparkle with sunlight and lift the human spirit. Daylight and spatial composition guide passengers intuitively and purposefully. The latest technological advances shape a smart, seamless, comfortable, and unencumbered experience. From arrival to departure, every element of the new terminal is crafted to elevate the passenger, making their journey inspiring, engaging, stirring, and fun. Our vision is to return the romance of air travel to all who pass through Chicago’s O’Hare.”
Design 2: Foster Epstein Moreno JV
“Our design is based upon a sequence of memorable and distinctive spaces that create a gateway to Chicago with architecture that is open, transparent, inclusive, welcoming, and functional, in turn resolving the sophisticated security, airport, and airline requirements in a way that meets the needs of both employees and passengers. Three arches frame the landside of the building, merging into a grand single arch on the airside, thus dissolving the barrier between inside and out and allowing the spectacle of the airfield to be visible to all who pass through the gateway, and recapturing the romance associated with air travel.”
Design 3: Studio ORD
“Chicago is a city defined by motion; confluence — of our river, of trail networks, of railroads — has shaped our most vibrant civic spaces. Studio ORD’s elegant and efficient design for the O’Hare Global Terminal and Global Concourse unifies the airport’s campus by converging seamless lines of motion across three terminals around a spectacular central Oculus. This confluence becomes Orchard Field — a vibrant neighborhood that combines abundant green spaces with distinctive landmarks, bespoke retail pavilions, and diverse activity zones. Richly layered and easily navigable, it captures the unique character of Chicago and redefines O’Hare as a 21st-century international destination.”
Design 4: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
“We have delivered global excellence in this great city, shaping Chicago’s skyline, neighborhoods, and public realm for more than 80 years. It’s said that our Chicago buildings turn ‘pragmatism into poetry.’ Our elegantly undulating O’Hare Global Terminal aims to be the world’s best, through optimal functional planning, great design, and keen practicality — all quintessential Chicago qualities. We infuse the muscular heritage of Chicago architecture and engineering with many lessons from the natural environment to increase human comfort, save energy, and define a distinctive sense of place. This can be Chicago’s next great building and our new gateway to the world.”
Design 5: Santiago Calatrava, LLC
“O’Hare’s Global Terminal by Santiago Calatrava is a masterwork of modern terminal architecture. With a glass façade and dramatic shell-like roof soaring over the approach road, the building unifies the terminal complex while establishing itself as its centerpiece. Inside, vaulted, light-filled spaces celebrate both the grandeur and simplicity of bygone travel as customers move easily to and from gate areas enlivened by Chicago-focused concessions in an airy, park-like setting. Convenient links to adjacent terminals, satellite concourses, and public transit support a future Vision plan that transforms the area opposite the Terminal into a vibrant hotel, retail, and business complex.”
For more details and to vote for your favorite design, visit the project’s official website.