American Airlines O’Hare Hangar 2
Award of Merit

Owner: American Airlines
General Contractor: W.E. O'Neil
Lead Design Firm: Ghafari Associates LLC

When the world’s largest airline operates out of one of the world’s busiest airports, all those airplanes have to be stored somewhere. W.E. O'Neil completed work on the American Airlines O’Hare International Airport Hangar 2 in Chicago after 30 months of work in January.

Ghafari worked with American and O'Neil on the project and designed the new 194,000-sq-ft double-wide-body aircraft maintenance hangar to improve and consolidate both line and base maintenance operations.

The new facility maximizes allowable aircraft parking positions and minimizes the total gross area of the building. The hangar is supported by 7,000 tons of steel, making it the longest span, dual-threshold airline hangar in the world. The design also had to incorporate existing utilities as well as add more than 20,000 linear ft of new underground utilities.

During daylight, two translucent light bars along the building contrast with lighter panel doors and dark-clad diagonal ends. At night, the hangar’s interior lighting can be seen through the translucent panels, giving it a beacon-like quality.

According to Joseph Gonzalez, global design director at Ghafari, the project sprang from American’s need to increase flexibility at O’Hare and embodies the principal of form following function.

“Our design approach integrates structure, architecture, lighting aspects, sustainability,” Gonzalez says. “It’s the whole Chicago school of architecture.”

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