Despite a damaging tornado that rocked the construction site, the $62-million “Airport Experience” renovation project restored Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, a historic mid-century aviation icon designed in 1956 by architect Minoru Yamasaki, to its original splendor. Repairs and clutter over the years had diminished its simple elegance, and a steady downturn in flights had left the St. Louis region uncertain about the airport’s value to the community. The design goal was to remove unnecessary elements and restore the space to its original essence, while also serving the needs of today’s airlines and passengers.
The multi-phased, modest-budget renovation modernized the main terminal and concourses. The design team incorporated the airport’s original strategies of openness and brightness into the renovation, with open views in and out of the terminal. Lighting improvements and windows allowed more light into the terminal for a brighter appearance throughout.
Phase I was complete, and Phase II, the most intensive construction phase, was underway in April 2011 when an F4 tornado struck, blowing out more than half of the terminal’s historic floor-to-ceiling arched windows, ripping open a concourse roof and moving along the concourse corridor to destroy completed renovation work.
Team members executed the $30-million Tornado Recovery project while continuing the Airport Experience renovation work. The tornado took out hundreds of windows at the terminal and concourses, but that cleared the way for the team to utilize newer technology for the replacement windows. Numerous amenities—many not originally planned but suddenly made necessary or possible because of the tornado—also were added, project officials note.
An aggressive safety program produced a record of no recordable incidents in 230,000 work hours. Careful planning resulted in just one contractor claim, despite multiple changes. The renovation was completed months early and within budget. Since the renovation, Lambert has steadily added airline routes and increased passenger traffic.
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport ‘Airport Experience’ Renovation Project
Owner Lambert-St. Louis International Airport
Lead Design Firm exp
Contractor Kwame Building Group
Structural Engineer exp
Electrical Engineer Ross & Baruzzini
MEP Engineer Burns & McDonnell