Five years after the project began, the first flights soared into the wild, blue yonder in late February from the new single terminal at Kansas City International Airport.

It was milestone for both Kansas City and the numerous contractors that had a role in constructing the $1.5-billion facility.

“The new terminal is a testament to the strength of the Kansas City region’s demand for travel,” says Pat Klein, Kansas City director of aviation.

He calls the 1.1-million-sq-ft facility, designed by Skidmore Owings and Merrill, “one of the most striking civic destinations in our city, and one of the most inclusive terminals in the world.”

The new building was designed and planned by the design-build team of SOM and CWC, a joint-venture contractor including Clark Construction, the Weitz Co. and Clarkson Construction Co. Developer Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate was the design-build team’s developer.

The new building consolidates all airline operations under one roof, with a 6,000-space parking garage and 40 gates for domestic and international travel. The new terminal has the potential to expand by 11 gates as part of the design.

The airport is the single largest infrastructure project in the city’s history, replacing Kansas City International’s three-terminal concept, originally built in 1972. It also is one of the largest construction projects in Weitz’s 167-year history.

“The world-class new single terminal will be a pillar in this community for decades to come and a destination for passengers as they travel to see all the Midwest has to offer,” says Ben Bunge, director of Aviation at the Weitz Co. “Working on this project and with our partners has been a highlight of my career.”

A celebration of the completion of the project recognized the partners and workers who made it possible. According to Bunge, the Build KCI design-build project generated more than 6,000 construction-related jobs with more than 240 Kansas City-area subcontractors contributing to it. Additionally, more than 130 minority- and women-owned business partners were a part of the project.

Henderson Engineers, the lead engineer, designed the electric power system for airport operations. Compared to a traditional mixed fuel system that uses natural gas, oil or coal, the system is expected to avoid 92% of operational CO2 emissions by 2050, according to Henderson.

The project is the second LEED Gold certified airport in the U.S. and the largest LEED Gold airport in the U.S.

“Because we knew this facility will be in use for at least the next five decades, we were focused on its long-term success and viability,” says James Dietz, principal and aviation practice director at Henderson. “As aviation continues to adopt sustainable design practices, going all-electric future-proofs the project from taking on considerable upgrades down the road.”

In the days leading up to the opening ceremony and first day of operations, volunteers tested out the new terminal. They participated in a mock check-in process that simulated the boarding process, collected luggage and tested the facility’s wayfinding signage.

The airport also hosted a Community Open House, inviting members of the Kansas City community to view and enjoy the new terminal.