Chicago O’Hare International Airport is currently working on an $8.6 billion plan to overhaul and expand its congested terminal complex — the airport’s first major capital improvement in more than 25 years.
Here’s a look at this massive expansion project by the numbers.
#1 busiest airport in America
The need for this investment is clear: at the end of 2018, O’Hare became the busiest airport in America — reclaiming the spot from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport — with 900,000 flights operated and 105 million passengers served annually.
5 architects vying to design a terminal
The centerpiece of the ambitious expansion plan is the upcoming O’Hare Global Terminal, slated to completely replace the current Terminal 2. Initially, 12 teams answered the city’s call for designs, including some of the nation’s top architects.
The original list was whittled down to five finalists, including Santiago Calatrava, designer of the Chicago Spire; Jeanne Gang, best known for her curvy Aqua Tower and the brand new Vista Tower; and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the team behind Chicago’s Willis and Trump Towers.
All five teams submitted high-level video proposals for the expansion:
Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza Joint Venture Partners
Foster Epstein Moreno Joint Venture Partners
Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
After public voting and much deliberation, Jeanne Gang’s Studio Gang was officially selected to lead the project with their design celebrating Chicago’s history as a city shaped by lines of movement. The remaining four teams are still in the running to design two new satellite concourses adjacent to Terminal 1.
10 brand new gates
Along with the new terminal, the expansion plan includes efforts to grow the 90s-era Terminal 5 complex 350,000 square feet by adding 10 new gates, passenger amenities, security lanes, and an upgraded baggage handling system.
2028 slated completion
At completion, the massive facility will handle both domestic and international flights and include its own customs and immigration checkpoints. Combined with two new satellite terminals, the overhaul will increase O’Hare’s total terminal area from 5.5 million to 8.9 million square feet.
60,000 construction jobs
The city anticipates that the new O’Hare project will create 60,000 construction jobs over the next eight years, along with tens of thousands of permanent jobs once it’s completed.