New terminal at Kansas City International Airport coming up


As airlines try to settle differences over cost, design of new KCI terminal continues

A light wood awning, abundant natural light and hometown team colors are among the design elements architects are using to create a sleek and modern, but welcoming, new terminal at Kansas City International Airport.

While airlines that will serve the terminal remain locked in negotiations over how to share the $1.6 billion cost, design work continues. The most detailed renderings to date show a terminal that pays homage to Kansas City’s reputation as a hard-working, pragmatic Midwestern town with a forward-looking nature, Jordan Pierce, an architect with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, or SOM, told the City Council Airport Committee on Thursday.

Renderings show a parking garage on one side with a short walk across lanes of traffic into the main terminal. Like many other modern airports, arriving passengers will access transportation on one level and passengers departing will enter the terminal above them.

An awning over the departure level and the large glass atrium combine into a “great room” that Pierce likened to Union Station or the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Mayor Sly James said he thought the new design would maintain, or even improve on, the convenience of flying out of KCI.

“I think will not only be as convenient, I think it will be much more comfortable, much more open, much more inviting, much more accessible than our current airport,” James said.

He continued: “It will also be more active,” James said. “There will be more light…it’ll be more open. It won’t feel like a dungeon in places.”

City officials have been working to get the airport project off the ground, but progress has slowed since the large and small airlines that serve KCI deadlocked in negotiations over sharing the cost of the airport. Allegiant and Spirit also expressed some concern over the total cost of the project.

Deputy Aviation Director David Long said the aviation department expected to meet with the airlines Friday to discuss a second independent report the airlines requested to confirm the overall cost of the airport.

Long said the airlines haven’t been able to develop a plan to share the costs of a $20 million baggage handling system — a major hangup in the negotiations — and asked the aviation department to come up with a compromise position. He said the department will meet with them Monday.

City officials are also working to get the Federal Aviation Administration to sign off on an environmental assessment necessary before crews can start construction.

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