San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is one of the largest aviation hubs in the world. To meet the needs of modern travelers and revolutionize the guest experience, SFO airport is redeveloping Terminal 1, one of its oldest terminals. T1 was built in the early 1960s and over time, has become less able to accommodate the millions of passengers that it welcomes each year.
When fully completed in 2022, T1 will elevate SFO’s standard of providing a world-class, environmentally friendly travel experience and is expected to meet or exceed the award-winning environmental standards. This will be a six-year, 2.4 billion dollar redesign project, the largest ever undertaken by the airport.
The core of the project would be the construction of a new boarding area totaling over 500,000 square feet. When completed, Boarding Area B (BAB) will feature 25 new gates, including seven ‘swing’ gates that provide international arrivals direct access to the US Customs & Border Protection Federal Inspection Area. The terminal will also have a new centralized security checkpoint, a state-of-the-art consolidated baggage handling system, dining and retail concessions, and post-security connecting walkways.
The airport also wanted to raise the bar with a world-class, environment-friendly project expected to earn LEED Gold Certification. To accomplish this requires tearing down the building and renovating it from scratch.
The goal is to rebuild an entire terminal without ever closing it.
How to rebuild an entire terminal without ever closing it? In the tightly orchestrated SFO T1 project, design and construction firms partner with the city and county of San Francisco to pull it off. Image courtesy of Woods Bagot and HKS
Building the Design Team
The Design Joint Venture consists of International firms, HKS and Woods Bagot and Local Business Enterprise partners ED2 International, Kendall Young Associates, who combined talents to design and deliver the 25-gate Boarding Area B project. TSAO Design Group served as a primary, design sub-consultant.
The project, a highly complex progressive design-build delivery project, saw the Design Joint Venture of HKS | Woods Bagot | ED2 | KYA designing for Austin Webcor JV, a joint venture of Austin Commercial and Webcor Builders, responsible for the project’s design management and construction.
With the project owned by the airport and the City and County of San Francisco, key opportunities for the team were integrating a vast body of stakeholder expectations, from wayfinding requirements to the Arts Commission, and implementing technical and operation requirements and operational phasing, all while designing to the high level of guest experience that SFO is known for.
WATCH: The Collaborative Design Process on SFO Terminal 1
Developing the Design Vision
To develop a collaborative design vision for the project, the design team and airport representatives got together in a large visioning workshop. Bringing together input from the range of stakeholders, the team found they shared a common vision: they wanted the terminal to have a uniquely San Franciscan feel that captured the romance of travel.
Based on the theme of “Bay Area Naturalism,” the team sought to create a relaxed and functional environment that would serve all of the terminal’s future users. According to Carsten Voecker, Director at Woods Bagot, “Terminal One is going to be frequented by around seven million passengers a year and all of these passengers will find an environment that is tailored for their very own needs.”
With collaboration the key to the project’s success, the project kicked off with the construction of the “big room,” a 33,000-square-foot structure on the outskirts of the airport housing over 200 designers, engineers, and contractors to collaborate and coordinate every step of the project.
A 1960s-era hangar is converted into a “Big Room” at SFO, all 33,000-square-foot of the space being used to house approximately 200 architects, contractors, and engineers planning Terminal 1’s Boarding Area B redevelopment project. Image courtesy of Woods Bagot and HKS
Crafting the Design Technology Framework
Coordinating a multi-firm, multiple stakeholder, public-private partnership on a design-build project for a busy international airport, all while keeping the airport’s daily operations running, would be no simple task.
Pardis Mirmalek, Design Technology Leader at Woods Bagot, emphasized the need for an integrated framework to enable coordination of various design iterations with the project’s numerous stakeholders:
“This is a trillion dollar industry that loses about 100 billion each year. As creative professionals, we go through hundreds, if not thousands of design iterations that need to be coordinated across numerous disciplines, and stakeholders, and that could result into a major loss to building budget, and time, if not rationalized or set up in an integrated framework.”
Crystal Barriscale of HKS Architects, explained: “It was quite a complex team that needed the right tools to work in a platform where we were up-to-date and could keep up with the project’s pace. When we first initiated the project, the big challenge was how to collaborate with a 24 consultant team at minimum and a large builder team to deliver the project.”
To handle the complexity of the project, the team chose latest Design Technology tools including BIM 360 Design (formerly Collaboration for Revit) to coordinate globally and across the different teams, consultants, contractors and stakeholders.
Using cloud collaboration enabled the stakeholders to communicate effectively and to be on the same page. According to William Wallace, Project Architect at Woods Bagot, it “helped us bridge the gap between the four Design JV firms with one common model in the cloud.”
Cloud collaboration enables teams to mobilize and scale design work at a far greater pace than ever before. Teams can now collaborate anytime from anywhere, with stakeholders that are critical to the success of the project. Image courtesy of Woods Bagot and HKS
Aside from keeping stakeholders and contractors on the same page, cloud collaboration enabled Design JV Teams to keep their own globally distributed studios in sync. While traditionally geography can be a limiting factor on the process of design collaboration, with cloud-based BIM models, top talent can gather in the “big room” virtually when they can’t in-person.
“A project with this level of sophistication requires bringing together the best talent from across the world,” says Pardis Mirmalek. “We have team members collaborating across San Francisco, New York, Melbourne, New Delhi, and Dubai, who are able to see the design updating live.”
WATCH: How Design Firms Manage Complexity with Global Collaboration
By empowering collaboration between studios, contractors, and stakeholders through one common cloud-based model, BIM 360 streamlined the process from design to delivery.
The Vision for the Future
As projects become more complex and firms are expected to deliver projects faster but within budget, technology is revolutionizing design and construction workflows. By simplifying operations and integrating problem-solving earlier into the process, many traditional cost centers of complex projects are being reduced.
Reflecting on how technology is creating new opportunities, Carsten Voecker concluded:
“Projects are getting more complex. Expectations are rising constantly, so my hope for the future would be that we revolutionize the industry so that one day we no longer have paper to deal with, and we will be at a point where the whole process, from early design, through shop drawing, through contractors’ building, will be completely managed digitally.”
Explore the collaboration tool that helped Woods Bagot and HKS manage complexity on SFO Terminal 1.
Read how “Big Room” collaboration helped Terminal 1 stay at 60% original capacity during construction.
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