Designed by SOM with Ross Barney Architects, JGMA, and Arup

Renderings of New Concourse at O'Hare Unveiled

John Hill
31. May 2024
Visualization © SOM and Norviska

The Satellite One Concourse is part of an ongoing expansion and modernization project known as the O’Hare 21 Terminal Area Plan, which consists of two satellite concourses, a global terminal, expansions of two terminals, and other improvements to one of the busiest airports in the United States. In the works since 2018, we learned about O'Hare 21 in March 2019, when the winner of the competition for the global terminal was announced. Later in the year, SOM was selected to design the two satellite concourses. With the release of renderings this week, the timeline for the first satellite concourse points to a 2028 completion, ten years after the initial announcement of O'Hare 21.

North end (Visualization © SOM and Norviska)

Satellite One will be connected to the south end of Concourse C, better known to architects as the satellite concourse of the United Airlines Terminal designed by Helmut Jahn in 1987. That concourse is approached via an underground tunnel with colorful glass walls and a moving walkway with a memorable light installation overhead, meaning that flyers arriving at O'Hare by car or “L” will have a bit of a trek before they reach their gate in the new satellite concourse. Yet, as SOM design partner Scott Duncan said in a statement, in addition to “increasing operational efficiency for carriers,” the design is aimed at helping “layover passengers in one of the nation’s busiest airports.” The rendering below gives a sense of the transition from the castellated steel structure of Jahn's 37-year-old concourse to the new Satellite One, where travelers will encounter a garden-like atrium before continuing to the gates.

Connection to Satellite One from Concourse C (Visualization © SOM and Norviska)
Gate Lounge in the evening (Visualization © SOM and Norviska)

The most notable design features of Satellite One are the vaulted roof/ceiling and the tree-like columns supporting it. Given that the new satellite is planned as the first domestic-international codeshare concourse at O'Hare, the vault provides space for an enclosed, suspended walkway for international arrivals, as indicated by the renderings here. Duncan further explains the logic of these design features: “The gate lounges feature column-free expanses for easy wayfinding, high ceilings to improve views and air circulation, and a daylighting strategy to help align the body's natural rhythms — all to make the experience of air travel more pleasurable.”

Sterile corridor arrival (Visualization © SOM and Norviska)

SOM's portfolio of airports includes San Francisco International Airport, Terminal 2 of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, and the recently completed Terminal 2 at Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru, India. Closer to ORD (the airport code for O'Hare, originally called Orchard Field), Ross Barney Architects designed the Multi-Modal Terminal that was completed in 2019.

South end overlook (Visualization © SOM and Norviska)

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