This article was written by ENR Southeast and appeared online HERE on October 29,2020. 

Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport Landside Modernization
Atlanta – Best Project

Owner: Dept. of Aviation (DOA/ATL Next)
Contractor: NSMS (New South | McCarthy | Synergy), a Joint Venture
Lead Design Firm: Hartsfield Jackson + Partnership (HJ + P)
Structural Engineer: HOK Structural
MEP Engineer: Newcomb & Boyd

Updating the North and South domestic airline terminals at the world’s busiest airport required a carefully staged construction plan, particularly when it came to building two massive structural steel canopies over the north and south terminal roadways. Measuring 864 ft x 200 ft and covered by inflatable ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) fabric pillows, the canopies are supported by existing building columns on the terminal and massive concrete piers erected across the road.

The canopies were optimized with fabrication and construction feasibility in mind. Truss chords that appear to have gradually varying curves are comprised of discrete constant-curvature sections, which were significantly less expensive to fabricate. Contractor NSMS—the joint-venture of New South Construction, McCarthy Building Cos. and Synergy Development Partners—collaborated with designers and its trade partners to craft connections that increased the productivity of canopy erection during periods when the roadway was closed during overnight hours.

Connecting the canopies’ multiple large truss sections using internal bolted splices instead of time-consuming welded connections helped to safely speed the erection process without compromising structural strength. Three-dimensional scanning technology also aided in fine-tuning integration of the new canopies with existing facilities as well as tracking movement of the steel structure during construction.

The 40-year-old terminal facades underwent a complete makeover, with entryways demolished to make way for new curtain wall, sliding doors and metal-paneled mini-canopies at each entrance. The full exterior facade was also re-skinned with metal panels, new storefront clerestories and glass panels. Advanced project management software helped identify potential logistical issues up to a year in advance.

Carrying out a multifaceted construction program at the “front door” of an airport serving more than 200,000 travelers a day demanded close attention to coordinate multiple—and often competing—budget, schedule and operational impacts. By applying advanced project management and scheduling software, the team was able to identify, communicate and mitigate issues that could potentially have slowed construction activity or compromised passenger service.