For those of you who forestalled their usual travel on the holiday weekend, I’m providing a glimpse of the new North Concourse at the Salt Lake International Airport. Just completed this fall, this is the first phase of the North Concourse. Its partner, the South Concourse, is the entry point to the airport. It connects to parking and is where security is located. The two concourses are part of a $4.1 million dollar renovation undertaken by the Salt Lake Department of Airports.
HOK is the architect and interior designer, and a joint venture of Okland Construction and Austin Commercial built the North Concourse. The project is pursuing a LEED Gold certification, and the new design reduces taxi time and aircraft idling.
The North Concourse is indeed as long as it appears in this shot, 2,252 feet long, just shy of a half mile.
Moving sidewalks diminish the time it takes to walk between gates, and there are wide walkways on either side for those who like to seize an opportunity for a little more exercise. The sloping ceiling design provides for improved acoustics. The announcements were much easier to hear and understand than in the old terminal.
Looking across the breadth of the western end of the concourse, the floor-to-ceiling windows are evident. Natural light is key to the LEED design, but it also offers views to the Salt Lake Valley and mountains. During my photo travels, I meet people who only know Salt Lake from their stops between flights, and they tell me how awestruck they were from the views from the airport. This new airport will only enhance this experience.
With the maps, signage, and information boards, I found the space easy to navigate. The concessions feature some of the area’s favorite eateries and unique retail shops, many of which are in the process of opening. Restrooms are more plentiful than in the old airport and each features unique artwork.
Connections between the North and South Concourses are all underground. Escalators, elevators and stairs lead down to the tunnel.
Traversing the tunnel, there are bold murals to keep you engaged visually and three moving walkways to speed the journey. On the surface above the tunnel are taxing aircraft arriving and departing from gates.
I always enjoy the underpinnings of buildings—all the systems that make the building work that are kept out of sight—and the underground baggage handling is no exception. Don’t you wonder what happens to your suitcase when it leaves on a conveyor belt and disappears? The seven-mile conveyor belt system features an innovative new system with large radius turns that can handle long items like skis and bicycle boxes, typical baggage of Utah travelers.
As in all big industrial and commercial spaces, I relied upon existing lighting with no supplementation. The ample windows of the new concourse provided a great deal of sunlight and remained bright even when the sun hid behind clouds.
The visit to the new airport inspired a familiar longing to be done with the pandemic and return to familiar pastimes. Hopefully soon I can travel again to the airport for those trips we saved and planned for last spring and so can you. Let’s all hang in there together and get through this last bit.
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