San Francisco International Airport Terminal 2
Designed as representative of the Bay Area’s culture and aesthetic, the newly renovated Terminal 2 (SFO T2) accommodates 14 gates serving Virgin America and American Airlines. The terminal elevates the passenger experience through design strategies that reduce traveler stress, highlight the airport’s world-renowned art installations and promote progressive sustainability measures. With an emphasis on 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.
In 1981, Gensler first renovated this terminal, which dates to 1951. Design principal Jeff Henry got to work two years ago on another major overhaul of the 650,000-square-foot facility. Artwork and sustainability are the hallmarks of the project. Check-in and bag drop take place at Corian counters sheltered by canopies surfaced in faux-wood acoustical paneling. Suspended from them are angular pendant fixtures by Wilmotte & Associés. But that’s nothing compared to the size and drama of the steel-framed cloth sculpture hanging at the entry to security screening. Beyond the checkpoint, passengers enter a “recompose” area. Finally, after passing through the retail and food corridor-organic, of course-they reach the departures lounge. A “hydration station” refills water bottles, while trash bins are part of a composting and recycling program. Those features should add up to a $170,000 annual reduction in operation costs and, Henry hopes, certification as the first LEED Gold terminal in the U.S
Gensler’s design for San Francisco International Airport’s renovated Terminal 2 (SFO T2) sets a new benchmark for contemporary air travel in a terminal highlighting the Bay Area’s distinct culture through its design, art and epicurean delights. Registered with the United States Green Building Council, the terminal aims to become the first LEED Gold certified terminal in the United States. The 640,000-square-foot terminal features progressive sustainability measures that strive to inspire people to live more sustainably. T2 will feature 14 gates serving the San Francisco-based Virgin America and American Airlines, and was built in a design-build partnership between Turner Construction and Gensler for San Francisco International Airport.
Elevating the Travel Experience
- With an emphasis on service, hospitality and comfort, T2’s design offers travelers many options for how they spend their time in the airport.
- SFO was the first U.S. airport that is an accredited museum, and T2’s design highlights the unique collection. While moving through the terminal, travelers can enjoy spaces designed to highlight T2’s permanent collection and traveling installations (see detail on the art included in the permanent collection below).
- San Francisco’s cuisine is globally revered, and the Bay Area’s food culture extends into the airport in a unique offering of locally-sourced, wholesome foods including a restaurant from renowned local chef Cat Cora. The terminal’s design mirrors the diversity of food offerings, with a multitude of places and seating options to enjoy either a snack on the go or a full meal.
De-Stressing Travel in a Pat-Down World
- Recompose A unique area just past security offers travelers a place to re-dress and gather their belongings after passing through security. Setting the tone for the T2 experience, this area features abundant natural light that interacts with a hanging installation by Janet Echelman, an internationally renowned artist. As passengers regroup, they can quickly check flight status on adjacent displays, and assess the food and shopping offerings in the concourse.
- Hydration Stations Security procedures prohibit taking bottled water through screening, but savvy travelers can refill empty water bottles at Hydration Stations that feature prominently at the concourse’s terminus.
- A “club room” feel to the departure lounge dining area and departure gates includes a variety of seating options and children’s play areas. Whether they are dining, shopping or enjoying an exhibit, passengers are able to keep an eye on their gates from these areas.
- Sit, lounge, or work: Gates include a variety of seating options including lounge furniture, work-oriented seating with power outlets, dining seating, and seating clusters that accommodate small and large groups. Laptop plug-in stations, elevated work counters and free WiFi throughout the terminal make it easy for everyone to connect and charge electronics on the go.
Innovative sustainable design & operations programs at T2 will:
- Reduce energy costs: The terminal is designed to save 15% more than the energy cost of a terminal designed to meet California’s stringent building code, resulting in a $170,000 annual savings in operations costs. An innovative displacement ventilation system will deliver superior air quality while using 20% less power than conventional systems.
- Reduce water use: T2’s dual plumbing system saves water. Reclaimed water from the Airport’s Mel Leong Treatment Plant supplies toilets and urinals. Plumbing fixtures are 40% more efficient than typical fixtures. Re-use building materials: By reusing a substantial portion of the infrastructure of the existing building in the renovated T2, SFO reduced the global warming impact of the new terminal by approximately 12,300 tons of CO2.
- Recycle: An aggressive recycling policy and composting for food waste significantly reduces the airport’s waste generation and carbon footprint.
- Teach: creative signage engages travelers and educates T2’s more than six million visitors on the terminal’s sustainable features.
- Eat local: the terminal features local, organic food vendors, offering wholesome food grown locally and prepared in a healthful manner.
- Remove complexity: expansive, naturally-illuminated spaces greet passengers, intuitively guiding them at key decision-making points, such as post-security, pre-baggage claim and the departure lounge. The natural daylight makes the terminal easier for travelers to navigate, creates a more healthy environment in which to travel, and helps save electricity used for lighting during the day.
- Complete a Multi-Modal Hub: the renovation connects Terminal Two to the Bay Area Regional Transportation System (BART), so that employees and travelers alike can easily go from airport to city on mass transit.
Art + Design: SFO Is the Only U.S. Airport That Is an Accredited Museum
- Gensler collaborated with the San Francisco Arts Commission, Turner, SFO and the SFO Museum to incorporate art into T2’s design. Three signature artworks were commissioned for the Terminal’s glass façade, entry lobby mezzanine area and the post-security Recompose area. In addition, two newly- commissioned interactive artworks are incorporated into the children’s play areas.
- Outside Façade: Air Over Under – The terminal’s outside façade features Norie Sato’s “Air Over Under,”whose imagery depicts the dual experience of being under or over clouds when flying in a plane.
- Ticketing: Topograph – Kendall Buster’s Topograph suggests a topography map, and creates an illusion that the forms might be fragments of a larger mysterious mass, like clouds—a recurrent theme in T2’s design. Arrivals Lounge: Marc Adams Tapestries – In storage for over 20 years, three tapestries by Marc Adams depicting garden imagery from local San Francisco and Bay Area sites warm the space where travelers reconnect with friends and family upon return to San Francisco.
- Recompose: Every Beating Second – Janet Echelman’s hanging sculpture is the signature element of the Recompose area. The artwork evokes the contours and colors of cloud formations over the Bay Area. Aesthetically, the sculpture draws its color from the Summer of Love, and references the Bay Area’s technological innovation and interconnectivity.
Project name: San Francisco International Airport Terminal 2 Renovation
Location: San Francisco, California, United States
Type: Terminal/Station Interior
Project Area: 640,000 square feet
Design Start: April 2008
Estimated cost: $383 million
Opening: April 2011
Passengers per year: Capacity for 5.5 million enplaned passengers; 3.2 million enplaned passengers are expected in the first full year of operation
Airlines served: Virgin America, American Airlines
Gates: 14 (Virgin America: seven gates; American Airlines: six gates; one common- use gate at launch)
Security Lanes: Eight passenger lanes, two employee and tenant lanes
Ticket Counters: Up to 26 ticketing positions per ticketing lobby
E-Ticket Kiosks: Up to 12 per side
Curbside Check-in Counters: Six positions
Retail and Concessions: 30,794 square feet
Baggage Claim Carousels: Four
- Interior Design Award Best of the year 2011 Projects: Transportation
- Entry WAN Awards 2011 – Urban Design
Client / Owner / Developer: San Francisco International Airport
Associate Architect: Michael Willis Architects, Hamilton-Aitken Architects
Brand Design: Gensler
Interior Designer: Gensler
Design/Build Contractor: Turner
Text Description: © Courtesy of Gensler
Images: © Bruce Damonte, Nic Lehoux, Mike Chino