Airport Structures Require Creative Designs for Increasing Demand
George Hibbs, AIA
Clarke Caton Hintz, an architectural, planning, and landscape architecture firm was selected by the Port Authority of NY & NJ and Continental Airlines to design a new garage at Terminal C to help accommodate ever increasing demands for parking at Newark Liberty International Airport. This design-build project was constructed in stages so as not to eliminate more than 1000 parking spaces at any time during construction.
The Newark Liberty International Airport Terminal "C" Parking Garage is a four level concrete structure with 3,400 parking spaces. The program requires 1,000 of these spaces to be hourly parking and 2,400 spaces to be daily parking. The design provides separate access to each of these areas as well as overflow parking from the hourly parking to the daily parking area. Vertical and horizontal circulation for searching as well as ingress and egress is of primary concern. Pedestrian bridges were constructed over the roadways to provide access from the garage to the terminal on the third and fourth levels.
The garage was designed to fit between main circulation roads of the airport. The amorphous shape of the plan was dictated by the existing configuration of these loop roads. Direct access to the garage from each of these main circulation roads made way-finding and ingress and egress much easier for passengers. The striping plan of the garage was designed to aid the flow of passengers from the garage towards the terminal. The structure itself is very large at 1,360,000+ sf, and it was important that the design incorporated elements to reduce the scale as much as possible. One of the most successful ways this was accomplished was by adding two light-wells through all four levels of the garage. The light-wells allow daylight to reach the lowest levels of the garage, they align in plan with the crosswalks at ground level and the pedestrian bridges at the upper levels and at either end of the light-wells are the egress stairs and elevators. Each of these considerations was a direct result of customer needs and directly influenced the overall design.
Creativity and Aesthetics
While the garage project itself contains many unique design concepts the one that stands out the most is the introduction of light-wells. Typically parking garage clients want to maximize the car count and build as wide and as high as the site and budget allow. Continental Airlines and the Port Authority of NY & NJ were unique clients in that not only was it important for them to maximize the total car count but they also held the interests of the public in the highest regard. Because of this attention to the end users, this immense garage has been designed with a high sensitivity to the well being and security of the pedestrians.
In a space which could have accommodated an additional few hundred cars, the Owners decided to remove large sections of pre-cast from the design and introduce great wells which allow shafts of light to penetrate all four floors. These light-wells provide relief to a very large structure. They also aid in way-finding as there are egress elements located at each end. These stairwells seem to float in the light-wells due to the curtain wall glazing and the open mesh design of the stair guardrail system. The ground floors of the light-wells are decorated with areas of large river rocks whose sculptural quality adds to the serenity of the light-well space.
Decorative light fixtures adorn the stairs and the interior of the light wells and are mounted on the pre-cast concrete spandrel faces. In the evenings, the glass enclosed pre-cast stairs and the oatmeal colored spandrel panels come to life. This unique feature, atypical of parking garages, provides interest during the day and evening hours.
The project has been a tremendous success for the Newark Liberty International Airport, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Continental Airlines. Due to the overall success of the project and the speed at which it was completed, the Owner may utilize this design for future parking structures on the Airport property.
There were also many technical features that are transferable to other transit agencies such as number and placement of fire extinguishers, emergency call boxes, security cameras, glass elevators, the concept of an escalator within a parking garage to alleviate congestion in the stairwells, automatic luggage carts, automatic speed-ticket check-in devices to shorten the wait at the main counter in the terminal, etc.
This parking facility was an $83 million investment for the Owners. It was of utmost importance that the garage be designed with a system that would keep maintenance costs at a minimum. After reviewing many options it was determined that the best return on their investment would be to construct the garage utilizing a system of pre-cast concrete slabs, tees and spandrels. It has been built for a design-life of greater than 50 years and will withstand the challenges of high traffic volume and frequent hard use.
George Hibbs, AIA is a Partner of Clarke Caton Hintz.
Name of Project:
Newark Liberty International Airport
Terminal "C" Parking Garage
Newark International Airport, Newark, NJ
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Orchestrator of Design Build:
Consulting Engineers Group, San Antonio, Texas
Clarke Caton Hintz Architects, Trenton, NJ
Prismatic Development Corporation, Fairfield, NJ
Colonial Concrete, Newark, NJ
High Concrete Structures, Inc., Denver, PA
YU & Associates, Elmwood Park, NJ
Article Abstract from April, 2005