A construction management contractor wasted no time in responding to the damage inflicted to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport by an April 22 tornado and still expects to complete the ongoing renovation on schedule.

Thanks to swift contractor response, the Lambert-St. Louis airport quickly resumed operations after the tornado.
Photo By AP Worldwide/Emily M. Rasinski
Thanks to swift contractor response, the Lambert-St. Louis airport quickly resumed operations after the tornado.

Kwame Building Group, St. Louis, is three years into the four-year, $70-million Airport Experience Program, which entails major interior renovations to terminal 1 and concourses A and C.

“We had just started the terminal rehab when the tornado hit,” says Mike Minges, Kwame senior vice president. Concourse C, which had been undergoing work since fall, was hit the hardest and is still closed while officials evaluate the damage. But because its tenants had to relocate to other concourses—which had been abandoned by American Airlines—future work on concourse C can proceed around the clock, says Minges.

Kwame and general contractor J&S Construction rallied crews, and work began non-stop on Friday night for the next two days, says Minges.

Concourse C's steel roof and baggage handling systems were blown away, but terminal 1 suffered less damage. Blastproof glass coating “saved our bacon,” says Gerald Beckmann, assistant airport director for engineering. “It kept the glass intact or broken into bigger pieces, rather than [producing] a shotgun effect.” Broken windows now sport plywood patches, especially on the terminal's south face.

Concourses A, B and D escaped the brunt of the tornado, Beckmann says. But elsewhere, “it was eerie, like going into a war zone,” says Minges. “There was metal and glass everywhere.”

The tornado ripped off a portion of a new airport roadway sign and embedded it into one of the airport facilities, he recalls. “It cut through a conduit.”

But the airport resumed partial operations over the weekend, with full service resuming by the following Tuesday. The airport has received an initial $10-million insurance check, Beckmann confirms.

Kwame's CM contract obviously will increase in scope. “We will help get repair contracts organized, however they're administered,” says Minges. “We'll help put the game plan together.” Terminal 1, which opened in 1956, will continue receiving its makeover while officials decide what to do with concourse C and how to administer subsequent contracts.