In response to one of the key discussion questions posed at the conference – Multiple-airport cities present new challenges for passengers and urban dwellers…The fragmentation of airports in a single city, frequently owned and operated by different governing bodies, can lead to unpredictable and even confusing experiences. How should we rethink the multiple-airport city more holistically? – Derrick shared some of XChange Architects’ ongoing research on the potential of airport systems in congested, large metro-regions to reappropriate extant infrastructure and civic spaces as virtual extensions of the airport network – effectively providing airports a set of operational “tentacles” in city centers to literally connect with passengers miles and hours before they set foot in the terminal building. As many airport functions are increasingly virtual and optimized – resulting in dramatic reductions in conventional space needs – imagine airports processing passenger checked baggage in urban centers and other alternative, off-airport locales, as illustrated in the renderings above that reimagine iconic urban spaces and infrastructure being repurposed as airport check-in facilities. While this is a commonly accepted global practice, here in the United States, there remains considerable operational, jurisdictional, regulatory and cost-sharing complexities that can render some of the most simple ideas unachievable from the moment that are conceived. Surely, we can do better in our major U.S. urban centers.
The day-long Think Tank sessions, highlighted by thought-provoking “impulse talks” by Mitchell Joachim of Terraform One and Campbell Hyers of Intersection remind us that the enhancement of the Airport’s relationship to its complex urban ecology can no longer be reliant on the physical solution alone; rather it must recognize that the passenger journey – and by extension, the “airport experience” – has been radically expanded from one’s door way to the jetway. Accordingly, a completely new set of expectations, standards and systems are emerging – leveraging atypical solutions, different perspectives and “out-of-the-industry” thinking to help deliver tomorrow’s airport systems.