An airplane flying over a bridge.

Destination Airports

Today’s traveler could be forgiven for focusing on the journey, not the destination, and contemporary airport conditions are beginning to reinforce this mindset. Prior models focused on processing passengers and baggage as expediently as possible; trading on efficiency, airports have tended towards delivering a “nothing-to-do-or-see-here” sameness in the bargain. 

A new generation of airports treats the terminal as more than a threshold. In fact, we are recognizing a new reality: because of security, passengers spend more time in the terminal, making them vital to revenue growth and reputation and creating new possibilities for what airports can be. This awareness sees airports increasingly treating terminals as destinations, where passengers also spend money. Four Gensler-designed terminals exemplify the emerging model.


A large group of people in a large building.

JFK International Airport, Terminal 5

With its curved rooflines, JetBlue Airways’ first terminal responds to its unique location near Eero Saarinen’s historic TWA terminal. From a functional standpoint, Gensler designed Terminal 5 to complement JetBlue’s business model. The 640,000-gross-square-foot, 26-gate terminal provides exceptional customer service, with a tailored plan for circulation and seating in the concourse. The ticketing lobby and holdrooms are sized as transitory spaces, while concessions areas are larger as JetBlue customers tend to buy food and drink before boarding. Wider space between gates allows JetBlue’s Airbus 320s to easily turn around, minimizing delays.

A high angle view of a factory.

Denver International Airport, South Terminal

The South Terminal Redevelopment Program aims to reinvent the way the airport connects to the city — providing travelers a swifter gateway to downtown Denver — while turning the airport into a travel destination. The project, an addition to the existing Jeppesen Terminal, will provide infrastructure and connections for future terminal expansion. Program elements include a new train station servicing the RTD FasTracks commuter rail connection to and from downtown, a new 500-key Westin hotel and conference center, and an outdoor public plaza linking the hotel, conference center and train station to the Jeppesen Terminal. Slated for 2015 completion, the airport seeks to improve passengers’ travel experience before departure and upon arrival.

A large room with people and a large pink balloon.

San Francisco International Airport, Terminal 2

Designed to reflect the Bay Area’s culture and aesthetic, the newly renovated Terminal 2 (SFO T2) accommodates 14 gates serving Virgin America and American Airlines. SFO T2 enhances the passenger experience through design strategies that reduce traveler stress, highlight the airport’s world-renowned art installations and promote progressive sustainability measures. Emphasizing service, hospitality and comfort, SFO T2 features a post-security Recompose area, a meeters-and-greeters lounge, hotel-inspired seating areas and a range of locally sourced, organic dining options. The first LEED® Gold-certified terminal in the United States, T2 supports SFO’s goals of zero waste, sustainable education and reduced carbon footprint. See an Interactive Map or learn more at GenslerOn.

A train station with a train.

Incheon International Airport, Terminal 2

Named Airports Council International’s “Best Airport Worldwide” seven years running, Incheon is a gateway to Korea and East Asia’s premier aviation hub. Nine international design teams competed to design a second, 72-gate terminal that doubles the airport’s size. Gensler, as collaborating design architect with the HMGY (Heerim-Mooyoung-Gensler-Yungdo) Consortium, won the competition with an elegant, yet practical terminal concept notable for its extensive sustainable design features. The airport expansion includes a second control tower, train station, parking facilities, and an integral hotel and conference center. Slated for 2017 completion, Terminal 2 will incorporate technologies that set new performance benchmarks for the celebrated airport.



Gensler Firmwide Communications and Public Relations

Incheon International Airport, Terminal 2, Project Team
Nic Lehoux
Denver International Airport, South Terminal Redevelopment, Project Team

Leah Ray (Gensler Firmwide Media Relations)

Additional Information
Denver International Airport South Terminal Redevelopment: Press Release

“Case Study: SFO’s Terminal 2” from Gensler’s latest issue of Dialogue

GenslerOn Blog: "Size Matters Not: Designing Sustainable Airport Terminals"
by Bill Hooper—Gensler Washington, D.C.