Chicago has chosen Studio ORD JV Partners' design for the $8.5-billion O'Hare International Airport expansion, which includes a  2.2-million-sq-ft global terminal and concourse.

"Today we congratulate Studio ORD which has proven they have the experience, expertise, and the talent needed to work with the City of Chicago as we usher in a new era at O’Hare," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), who has championed the expansion project as an economic engine for the entire region and worked to get the deal wrapped up to start construction before he leaves office in the weeks following the April 2 mayoral run-off election to choose his successor.

Lead designer Jeanne Gang is the founding principal and lead designer of Studio Gang based in the city's Wicker Park neighborhood. Chicago-based architecture firms Solomon Cordwell Buenz, STL Architects and Chicago-based engineer Milhouse Engineering and Construction are also on the team. Airport design architecture firm Corgan is also in the JV. The engineering discipline manager listed on the Studio ORD site is Myesha McClendon, a native Chicagoan who was one of ENR Midwest's Top Young Professionals this year.

Studio ORD's design proposal has a three-part terminal that wraps around a sky-lit atrium. During the public comment portion of the competition, Studio ORD said in statements that the design is inspired by the airport’s original name — Orchard Field, which is why O'Hare still uses the ORD airport designation today.

Studio ORD beat out teams from Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza, Foster Epstein Moreno, Santiago Calatrava and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for the O'Hare job. Only SOM's proposal, for which it partnered with Chicago's Ross Barney Architects led by Carol Ross Barney, could compete with the number of Chicago-based firms in Studio ORD's roster.

The Chicago Dept. of Aviation said the evaluation committee, which never made its membership public, picked Studio ORD in accordance with the city's request for proposals, issued in June 2018. The RFP called for the lead architect to be selected based on multiple criteria, including its ability to meet budget and schedule requirements, airport regulatory requirements and local participation requirements. Additional criteria specified sustainable design plans that would qualify the new O’Hare Global Terminal and Global Concourse for LEED Gold status.

“The selection of the team to design the O’Hare Global Terminal represents a first step forward in redefining the experience for travelers around the world,” said Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee in a statement. “While we congratulate Studio ORD, we applaud all of the teams for bringing forward incredible proposals, and thank the public for their input in this process."

Studio ORD said it is looking forward to negotiating with Chicago to move the design process forward and takes seriously the responsibility of designing a better experience for the 83 million passengers that pass through O'Hare annually.

“The new global terminal and global concourse is a critical project for unlocking both O’Hare’s potential to be a leader in aviation and Chicago’s future success as a contemporary, economically strong, and truly global city,” said Gang in a statement. “As a native Chicagoan, I understand deeply the importance of O’Hare to our city’s identity, and I am honored that my hometown has provided my team the opportunity to realize a design that can demonstrate Chicago’s unique culture, traditions, and diversity to visitors and residents alike.”