O’Hare International Airport Façade & Circulation Enhancements / Chicago, Illinois/ 2001‑2007
Size: 246,500 sq ft / 22,900 sq m new; 1,636,100 sq ft / 152,000 sq m renovated
Status: Completed 2007
Collaborators: Werner Sobek
When it was completed more than sixty years ago, O’Hare International Airport presented a unified, functional image attuned to the nascent jet age. As air traffic increased, the original airport terminals were expanded to accommodate the surge in passenger volume but largely focused on vehicular demands. Over time, these alterations diluted the clarity and scale of the original terminal complex while the capacity of the original buildings remained strained.
Jahn’s approach to reimagining O’Hare International Airport sought solutions to these problems by creating a cantilevered steel canopy at the drop-off, shading a new transparent façade, and creating a dramatic sweeping arc that unifies the landside image of the airport. The new façade added 75,000 square feet to create a more spacious arrival and departure hall while improving vertical circulation. This cable-supported glass wall maximizes lightness and transparency and facilitates passenger orientation and airline identification.
A new canopy, scaled to the expanded O’Hare, provides improved curbside protection while creating a unified identity for the airport. The enclosure is minimal, clear, and efficient in its use of materials and technology.
The interiors of the original terminals were renovated with durable new finishes, energy-efficient mechanical systems, and new lighting technologies. New security checkpoints with the latest control technologies were added, and new counters, railings, and signage were installed to transform the interiors with a visually cohesive image.