After the Olympics, the issue of the airport's future surfaced again, but plans were put on hold once more when its key client, Delta Airlines, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005 and spent the next two years reorganizing and fending off takeovers.

In 2008, with Delta out of bankruptcy and on firmer footing, SLCIA and Delta officials worked with HOK to analyze what the new facility should be.

"One of the main drivers of the TRP is that the current buildings are not seismically sound," says Riley. "As we've gotten a better picture of the geology of the area, we [found that] the airport is in a liquefaction zone. We looked at retrofitting the buildings we have or building new ones and decided it was best to build a new facility."

Making It Work

After officials decided to build a new terminal, HOK started work on the design. The results of a 2013 survey of Salt Lake City residents and travelers showed that, along with making the facility easier to navigate and improving access to technology, people sought to increase the visibility of the Utah landscape and incorporate it into the design.

"Airports around the world are interested in making sure their facilities reflect a sense of place," says Robert Chicas, firm-wide director of aviation and transportation for HOK. "The difference here is a very unique setting between the mountain ranges. The geography and colors in Utah change dramatically seasonally and geographically, and we've tried to reflect that in the colors and textures and in incorporating views to the outside. We've tried to place large, expansive windows not only to showcase the landscape, but also to leverage it as a way to orient passengers in the airport."

The new terminal will be three levels, with a 3,600-space, five-story parking terrace attached by walkways to the center floor. Cars will access the terminal on the upper and lower levels to drop off or pick up passengers. The recently completed Airport Line of the TRAX light rail system will also connect directly to the terminal.

The terminal design conforms to the existing airside aprons, taxiways and runways. Those will not be changed, but roads on the terminal's landside will undergo multiple changes as construction progresses.

The project team says that building the new terminal so close to the existing facility, without causing major disruptions to the traveling public, is a tall order. "We're going to be building temporary roads, then we'll have to move them as work progresses. We have to get out of our own way, basically," says Mike Williams, program director and owner's representative for Making Projects Work.

Kevin Fauvell, project director for HDJV, also worked for Holder Construction on the Hartsfield-Jackson airport project in Atlanta. "Programmatically, this is similar to what we did in Atlanta, with separated roadways and a separate parking deck," says Fauvell. "But here we are building right on the front door of the existing airport, with the traffic and passenger flow. Phasing is going to be much more challenging."

The project also is being built on "difficult soils," says Leon Nelson of Big-D Construction and the construction director for HDJV.

A comprehensive study conducted for the airport by CH2M Hill revealed a high water table and clay soils at the site. Nelson says that making the new facility seismically stable will mean drilling 6,694 structural piles 70 ft deep, capped by 12,620 stone columns to support the building slab.

Fauvell says that the team holds regular meetings with airport officials to coordinate operations and ensure the safety of travelers. "We have a very collaborative environment here, and we all bring our best to this," he says. "The airport board and design firms have been engaged in all aspects of the project, and they will stay involved. As things progress, we'll be having more frequent logistics sessions, probably daily as we hit the peak building times in 2016 and 2017."

Chicas says he is confident designers have created a facility that will be representative of its place and safely serve the public well into the future. "This project will be a transformation for Salt Lake and the region and for Delta Airlines. Salt Lake can now lay claim to one of the premier airports of the 21st century," he says.