Magazine

Consolidated Rental Car Facility Takes Off at Boston Logan Airport

Bruce Ross

The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) unveiled its innovative $310 million Rental Car Center (RCC) last fall at Boston Logan International Airport.  The 120,000-square-foot customer service center and four-level garage accommodates the 10 rental car companies that have operating agreements with Logan to work in one common building.

Here’s some background: Parsons Brinckerhoff was the prime consultant for the consolidated rent-a-car (ConRAC) project, engaged by Massport back in 2008 to oversee project management and administration of subconsultants. The firm also provided planning, design and construction-phase services. Camille Bechara served as its Project Manager and Margaret O’Meara was Principal-in-Charge.

The consolidated rental car center, located in Logan airport’s southwest service area, provides approximately 3,200 parking spaces. It also has facilities for light maintenance, fueling and washing; vehicle storage; and ground transportation facilities to accommodate taxis, buses and limousines.

“Massport’s goal was to lessen airport-related, off-airport activities and reduce the number of re-circulating rental car shuttle buses on airport roads,” Bechara said. “The ConRAC facility consolidates the rental car shuttle bus fleet; eases terminal curbside congestion and airport-related traffic on off-airport roadways; reduces greenhouse gas emissions; and includes sustainable design principles that comply with standards of LEED rating system of the U.S. Green Building Council.” For example, the new RCC facility features 616 solar panels on the roof of the garage.

Massport said the RCC includes a new unified shuttle bus system, which it operates. Also, from the facility’s Sept. 25 opening date, diesel-powered rental car company buses were entirely eliminated from the airport roadway. Bus traffic dropped from about 100 buses per hour to 28 fuel-efficient hybrid buses.

As a result, shuttle bus vehicle miles were expected to drop by 70%, with an accompanying 35% decline in airport-related emissions, Massport said.  Another environmental benefit was that all rental car companies with operating agreements at Logan are now on-airport, reducing Route 1A traffic and emissions.

Parsons Brinckerhoff said the façade of the consolidated rental car center building features the first use in North America of terra cotta on structural panels – terra cotta veneer panels embedded in structural precast concrete walls.

The designers initially intended to use inset thin brick on precast concrete structural panels for the façade to complement local buildings. But Massport officials were interested in the more contemporary terra cotta design to provide an aesthetic balance between historic residential homes nearby and the more modern airport, the firm said.

The design concept presented a variety of challenges and uncertainties, Bechara said. “The original concept was to construct precast concrete structural walls and use a metal frame as a rain-screen, with the terra cotta set into the frame,” he noted. “While exploring the technical requirements, the team concluded that embedding the terra cotta into the precast panels could save approximately $1 million.”

To evaluate this unusual system, Bechara said, various prototypes were built and tested for durability, flexibility and maintenance requirements. Full-size mockups of individual panels were deliberately cracked to see how easily they could be repaired. In the end, the structural panels passed every test, he said.

The Boston Logan airport ConRAC also was the first Massport project to make use of building information modeling (BIM), including computer model-based design, virtual prototyping, and 3D coordination and visualization. Parsons Brinckerhoff said model-based design also was used to support roadway site and utilities design with contract drawings produced from the models.

Three-dimensional parametric models were developed for architectural components of the customer service center; for structural components of the CSC and garage; and for all mechanical/electrical components, the firm said.

Virtual prototyping was employed extensively to develop, review and validate wayfinding signage within the CSC and garage and on roadways servicing the facility. Parsons Brinckerhoff said computer visualizations of multiple design alternatives were developed during the final design phase. These included renderings and animations prepared to inform Massport, the rental car companies and the general public about each design alternative.

In advance of the opening of the consolidated rental car center, Massport introduced new color-coded signage in the terminals to direct passengers to terminal curb assignments, where overhead countdown clocks tell them when the next bus is arriving.

The final phase of this Boston Logan project consists of bringing back the taxi pool and bus/limo pool to the southwest service area and construction of two remaining maintenance facilities for the rental car companies. That work is scheduled to be completed this summer.



Bruce Ross, who heads Bruce Ross Associates

(at bruceross@aol.com), produced the Parsons Brinckerhoff information. Other background came from the Massachusetts Port Authority.



 

Article Abstract from March, 2014




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