Not long ago, finding a rental car lot at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport required an adventure in exploring the city's west side. Nine different rental agencies were located in remote locations and scattered throughout the neighborhoods surrounding the airport.

The creation this year of the $81.5-million Consolidated Rental Car Facility (CONRAC) eliminated this burden facing travelers to the Crescent City. The 784,000-sq-ft structure centralizes the operations of all rental agencies that serve the airport.

The centerpiece of the new facility is a three-story, 30,000-sq-ft rental-car customer-service building. It is augmented by a four-story, 660,000-sq-ft garage that contains 2,400 parking spaces. Four vehicle and maintenance service centers were built as well as a utility complex that serves the entire airport.

A total of 34 structures were demolished to prepare for the work. Fifteen new structures were built and several others were renovated and relocated, including 15,000 sq ft of maintenance warehouses and shops below the main airport terminal.

A 30,000-sq-ft utility complex on site provides electrical and fire protection services for the airport. This complex features a 400,000-gallon storage tank, fire pumps and backup generators.

The project also required relocation of the airport fire-protection well and utility building; the main electrical switch gears; and the airport planning and development offices.

The 18-month construction schedule was split into four phases, and work had to be completed in time for Super Bowl XLVII, which was held in February at the Superdome.

An eight-month work stop order complicated the time line, as well as numerous upgrades and design improvements that involved an additional $19 million in work. In August 2012, the arrival of Hurricane Isaac caused even further delays to the construction schedule.

To handle the revised time line, a second tower crane was installed and a second work crew added. A building information modeling studio was moved on site to more rapidly adapt to the evolving schedule and re-sequence the work.

Since the site was part of an airport, safety and security measures were enhanced. Not only were security precautions necessary for the personnel working on the job, special care had to be taken with the timing of work not to interfere with airport operations.

Since intense ground vibrations caused by pile-driving foundation work could disrupt the equipment in the nearby air traffic control tower, work on that portion of the project was done at night.

Key Players

Owner City of New Orleans

General Contractor Satterfield & Pontikes Construction Inc., Kenner, La.

Lead Design CooverClark & Associates, Denver

Structural Walker Parking Consultants, Wayne, Pa.

Civil Julien Engineering, New Orleans

MEP IMC Consulting Engineers, Metairie, La.

Fuel Systems Engineer Stantec Consulting Services, Tuscon, Ariz.