South Airport Automated People Mover (APM) Complex at Orlando International Airport
Best Project

Owner: Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA)
Lead Design Firm: HKS
General Contractor/Construction Manager: Hensel Phelps
Civil Engineer: Atkins
Structural Engineer: Walter P Moore
MEP Engineer: TLC Engineering for Architecture
Bridging Architect: SchenkelShultz Architects
Mechanical Plumbing Engineer: Matern Professional Engineering

One of the first steps in Orlando International Airport’s multi-phase expansion plan was building the $262-million South Airport Automated People Mover Complex, which is designed to alleviate some of the parking demands at Florida’s busiest airport. The people mover, which delivers a three-and-a-half-minute ride to the airport’s main terminal, required particularly close attention to detail. Support plinths fabricated of high-tolerance concrete had to be built to within 1/16 in. of their specified heights to ensure precise placement of tracks.

To achieve perfect ground pitch, Hensel Phelps loaded and tightly compacted embankment soil for the plinth slabs over a 120-day period to achieve full settlement. The planning and meticulous approach paid off, with the guideway being placed atop the plinths with no rework required.

The project’s six-level, 1-million-sq-ft cast-in-place parking garage incorporates a column spacing design that accommodates approximately 2,400 vehicles, plus adaptability for rental car operations. With skylights and curtain walls maximizing the amount of natural light within the facility, the complex’s new central energy plant supports a cooling load of 2,100 tons and also provides backup electrical power.

Preparing the approximately 600-acre site for construction required extensive clearing, grading and earthwork as well as a road network that includes precast structures for future roadway crossings. Coordination of the multifaceted construction effort was essential, with as many as 13 cranes operating on site at a given time. Written plans and radios kept crane operators and project leaders in constant communication with each other to ensure all work was performed safely.

The South Airport APM Complex marked the aviation authority’s first construction management at-risk project. Previously, GOAA had used a hard-bid process resulting in a design that was 100% complete before hiring a contractor. From project inception, contractor Hensel Phelps worked with the authority to guide them in utilizing the construction management at-risk method to its full potential.

Although the facility incorporates a substantial amount of customized materials and a variety of new technologies, the project team’s value-engineering solutions yielded more than $7 million in savings as well as on-time completion. GOAA has since elected to utilize CMAR for the next phase of the expansion program.