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Fosters up against Calatrava and SOM for $8.5bn Chicago airport expansion

O’Hare International Airport
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Foster + Partners is one of five teams to be shortlisted for an $8.5 billion expansion of O’Hare International Airport in Chicago

Leading a consortium known as Foster Epstein Moreno JV Joint Venture Partners, the top AJ100 practice is up against Santiago Calatrava; SOM; Studio ORD; and Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza Joint Venture Partners.

Teams that failed to make the shortlist include Grimshaw with Gensler, HOK and BIG.

The announcement comes just a week after Fosters’ $13.3 billion airport for Mexico City was cancelled midway through construction after the project was rejected in a nationwide referendum.

The five finalist teams will now be invited to draw up design concepts which will be presented to the public for feedback.

The winning team will deliver a landmark new ‘global terminal’ and concourse to replace O’Hare’s existing Terminal 2 building, which will be demolished.

The second-placed team, meanwhile, will be commissioned to deliver two nearby satellite concourses connected to the main building by underground tunnel. 

The city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, said: ‘Chicago has called upon some of the world’s best designers to help carry out our vision for the new O’Hare Global Terminal—the key to a bigger, better and more modern O’Hare for the 21st century.

‘As we look ahead to O’Hare’s future, we won’t forget Chicago’s legacy of architecture and transportation. By the end of this competition, we will change the trajectory of O’Hare forever, and ensure Chicago remains a leading hub for travellers around the world.’

O’Hare, on the north-west side of Chicago, was created in the post-war years as a pioneering modern airport facility featuring concourses, highway access, underground refuelling systems, and seven runways.

The enormous 3,087ha airport was the busiest in the world from 1963 to 1998, and today is the sixth busiest with around 80 million passengers a year. Both terminals 2 and 3 have yet to be upgraded from their original design.

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