No rabbit-warren corridors in $US13bn JFK makeover

by Jerome Greer Chandler
October 09, 2018
JFK $13bn makeover
A rendering of the upgraded JFK. Image: New York Governor's Office.

It’s been decades now since New York’s John F. Kennedy airport could claim to be the preferred air portal for passengers arriving or departing the United States.

Now it’s embarking on an effort to reclaim glories past, contending that a $US13-billion project scheduled for completion in 2025 will, “transform…the traveler experience for curb to gate.”

The centerpiece of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s effort, dubbed the ‘Vision Plan,’ overhauls the airport’s clunky, hodgepodge layout of eight separate terminals by constructing two totally new, flyer-friendly mega-structures—one each on the north and sides of the sprawling aerodrome.

Together they will, says a prepared statement from Governor Cuomo’s office, “increase the airport’s capacity by at least 15-million passengers annually.”

The makeover doesn’t end there.

READ: Customer feedback prompts Cathay to boost popular routes.

Expanded aircraft taxiways, “state-of-the-art” security, streamlined roadway access and centralized ground transport options are also part of the vision.

First fruits of the JFK effort are set for 2023, when the first gates are scheduled to go live. The project as a whole is slated to complete some six years from now, in 2025.

Ninety-percent of all of this is to be paid for via private investment.

Low ceilings, close-in corridors are out under the plan; high ceilings and natural lighting are in. So too are larger waiting areas.

The plan marries modern architecture with interior green space, exhibits and art showcasing New York landmarks and the work of local artists.

Many retail stores and restaurants will have a decidedly local flavor about them too.

The southside terminal will be a 2.9-million-square-foot affair. Replete with 23 international gates plans call for at least 24 security gates. That’s good, assuming the Transportation Security (TSA) sufficiently staffs them.

The new northside terminal encompasses 1.2-million square feet and will be developed by JetBlue. It will boast a dozen international gates.

If TSA meters the flow of passengers to their gates, Vision Plan calls for an upgraded AirTrain JFK and reworked roadway system to control the vehicular flow into and out of Kennedy.

Plans include improving access to the airport from a pair of regional roadways.

The selection of the architectural firm of Mott MacDonald and Grimshaw bodes well for the JFK project. The firm has worked on master planning and/or redevelopment efforts in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, London, the Netherlands, Canada and Australia.