What began in the ‘90s as a grand vision for the future of our city but suffered setback after setback by 9/11 and the Great Recession has finally become reality. Say hello to our new airport, The New SLC. This is no remodel or expansion--it's an entirely new gig.
The New SLC Airport is the largest public works project in Utah's history and the country's first hub airport of the 21st century.
With new Executive Director, Bill Wyatt (welcome, Bill!), at the helm and a 4.1 billion dollar budget, the project has taken 6 years and over 11 million labor hours to get it done. And, considering that our old airport was meant to service 10 million passengers annually but (pre-pandemic) had been seeing close to triple that number, its completion could not have come soon enough.
Salt Lake City tasked HOK, the largest architecture-engineering firm in the U.S., with taking the architectural lead on the project, and Holder Construction and our own Big-D Construction for the build out. These firms were charged with designing and building a state-of-the art airport that would be both functional and environmentally-friendly, while at the same time honoring the rugged beauty of our state. The solution was a facility laid out in a linear design, widely considered the gold standard for hub airports; and, in order to minimize the airport’s environmental footprint, one that employed sustainable design techniques such as high-performance glazing across the terminal’s 45-foot floor-to-ceiling windows.
"We're changing the entire physical model of the airport. The new terminal is so much more efficient for aircraft and passengers."
Another major consideration was ensuring Utah’s unique and natural beauty had equal representation. Local and national artists were brought in to capture the essence of what makes the Beehive State so desirable a place to live and play. Artist Gordon Huether created the terminal centerpiece--an installation of illuminated, undulating striations called The Canyon--a stunning homage to our state’s slot canyons. Elsewhere, more artwork abounds with the Whimsy Walls project, a series of original artwork converted into vinyl wall wraps that adorn the new restrooms throughout.
Local businesses such as Liberty Park Market and Hip & Humble have found homes in the new airport, and--standing in stark contrast to the standard chain/fast-food airport fare--eateries such as Gourmandise, Granato’s, Cafe Rio, Market Street Grill, and Uinta Brewing Co. have also put down roots to reflect Salt Lake’s burgeoning cuisine scene.
Phase I included a two-part effort: the terminal and Concourse A of the project opened on September 15th, and due to the pandemic, work on the second concourse (Concourse B) was accelerated and completed two years earlier than projected (and at a savings of up to $300 million). Phase II, expected to see completion in 2024, will see an expansion of Concourse A, as well as a permanent tunnel between the two concourses. All told, The New SLC is designed to accomodate 26 million passengers. The project is a big win for travelers, without question, but perhaps more importantly, as Mayor Mendenhall puts it, it will serve as “a major economic generator for the city and the entire region.” Hear, hear!