O’Hare 21 - Satellite Concourses Telecommunications Infrastructure

Two New Satellite Concourses Plays Important Role in Future of O'Hare

The City of Chicago’s historic $8.5 billion O’Hare 21 project is underway to modernize O’Hare International Airport with new facilities and modern infrastructure over the next decade, marking the largest expansion and first major capital improvements to its passenger terminals in more than 25 years. O’Hare 21 will grow the airport’s overall terminal square footage by more than 60% from 5.5 to 8.9 million square feet, increase aircraft gate frontage by 25% and deliver a more streamlined passenger experience to enable O’Hare’s future growth by better connecting travelers and Chicago to other parts of the world.

The massive investment aims to set new records and fuel more connectivity, tourism and economic impact for Chicago well into the future. O’Hare 21 is projected to directly create more than 60,000 jobs over the course of the program. The overall regional economic impact is expected to contribute at least $50 billion to the region and create at least 460,000 regional jobs in the next eight years.

The project will be delivered in phases, with an expanded Terminal 5 representing the first major terminal upgrade at O’Hare. Construction of two new satellite concourses and supporting infrastructure will begin in 2022. Once the satellites are online, construction of the O’Hare Global Terminal can begin, replacing Terminal 2. The program also includes enhancements to integrate Terminals 1 and 3 into the O’Hare Global Terminal to enable seamless passenger connections.

The City of Chicago has selected Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP (SOM) to design the two new satellite concourses immediately west of the terminal core, while HNTB has been selected to serve as the lead civil engineer. SOM and HNTB join Studio ORD, the lead architect tasked with designing the new O’Hare Global Terminal, on the design team that will transform the airport. SOM with Ross Barney Architects and Arup will develop the vision for a terminal that expresses a sense of place unique to Chicago, all while enhancing airport operations and elevating the passenger experience. 

The design for the two new satellite concourses plays a significant role in transforming the face of O'Hare by doubling the width of the typical passenger concourse and incorporating nature and daylight to enhance the passenger experience. The concourses will include flexible gates to accommodate both narrow and wide-body airplanes and incorporate a variety of spaces to meet the needs of all domestic and international travelers. They will also provide enough gate capacity to shift activity from the existing Terminal 2, enabling the O'Hare Global Terminal to be constructed.

Level-1 will be working closely with SOM to implement the design of the telecommunications infrastructure and electrical systems for the upcoming build-out of these two critical components of the O’Hare 21 project and future Global Terminal.

O’Hare reclaimed its top spot as the nation’s busiest airport in 2018 by operating more than 900,000 flights for the first time since 2007. As O’Hare adds gates and improves its terminals, passenger volumes are expected to keep pace with a strong demand for air travel worldwide, which, according to aviation experts, will double to 14 billion air travelers in the next decade.s