Denver airport design includes lots of light, air |

Denver airport design includes lots of light, air

Associated Press Writer

DENVER (AP) – Architect Santiago Calatrava’s vision for a redeveloped south terminal at Denver International Airport includes a lot of light, airy spaces, and a hotel and train station that resemble the wings of a bird when viewed head-on.

Calatrava on Thursday revealed his team’s conceptual design for a train station, glass-walled hotel and open-air plaza to complement the existing airport’s iconic white tents. Another architecture firm is handling specific designs for the hotel, which has been in the airport’s plans for more than a decade.

Exact designs could vary, though, if real-world costs get out of hand. Denver aviation manager Kim Day has pledged not to move forward on any portion if it doesn’t make financial sense.

Included in the estimated $650 million buildout is a Calatrava-style arced, white bridge about 1.5 miles from the airport to carry passengers on a proposed train line from downtown Denver. The bridge would cross Pena Boulevard before heading on a course parallel to the airport’s runways and then taking a 90-degree turn into the airport.

Calatrava said drivers headed either direction on Pena Boulevard would see the bridge as a symbolic gate either to the city or to the airport.

“Airports are the modern gates to a city. So in a way, the bridge contains this symbolic value,” Calatrava said.

The whole project is expected to be complete in 2016, though the bridge is slated to be finished in 2013. The city-owned airport plans to fund it with sales of bonds and its own revenue, some of which will come from 100,000 square feet of leasable office or meeting space in the design, Day said. The 500-room Westin hotel should pay for itself, she said.

Airport officials hope to start selling bonds this year.

As envisioned, a new first-level train station would accommodate buses, taxis and cars, which today drop off passengers at higher levels. Trains would enter the station under a partial glass canopy to a wide platform surrounded by stores.

The station would merge into the hotel, which would have a “sky lobby” looking down on an open plaza outside of what is now Level 5, where security screeners check passengers. The plaza would have benches, gardens and views of the Rocky Mountains to the west.

Another glass canopy attached to the hotel would merge underneath an arch of the existing white tents at the airport.

“We are bringing the airport closer to the city and bringing the city to the airport,” Calatrava said.

Years down the road, a second phase of redevelopment, estimated at $250 million, would add a new parking structure and move security screeners from the center of Level 5 to the lobby, now occupied by airline check-in desks, Day said. She said passengers would check in instead at the train station or at Union Station downtown.


South Terminal Redevelopment Program: