One of the first U.S. terminals to be designed and built following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the Col. H. Weir Cook Terminal at Indianapolis International Airport established new security paradigms while reaffirming the importance of vital public space, robust human interaction and the marvelous event of flying.
The $1.2 billion, 1.2-million-square-foot terminal is a dual-level, 40-gate structure situated midfield between the airport's two main runways.
The dynamic spatial and sculptural form manifests three primary objectives: first, that the terminal acts as a monumental gateway. This goal was achieved by an arch in the transverse section, creating a sense of threshold. The second objective is that the terminal celebrate the event of flight. This was achieved by the longitudinal section that elevates at the landside, descends at security, and rises again to airside. Finally, that the terminal is a high-performance building. This was achieved by refining and tailoring the roof shape, size and apertures to create good natural light, reflect heat, channel water and harness airflows that draw clean air through the terminal.
The heart of the terminal is the grand civic space, marked with a 230-foot-diameter hyperbolic skylight. It is the circulation nexus of the airport, so its grandeur celebrates the intense social intercourse that happens here. The circular space makes an allusion to Monument Circle – the center of downtown Indianapolis – and the natural light and views afforded by the skylight bring the landscape-of-the-sky into the space.
The terminal is also a showcase of sustainability. Discharge from fuel and deicing are controlled using bio swales populated with plants that consume hydrocarbons. Detention ponds encourage growth of microorganisms that also consume airport discharge. In the terminal, filtered glass mitigates heat from solar gain while harvesting sunlight to reduce use of artificial lighting. It has a radiant heating and cooling system in the floor to help regulate temperature only in the space occupied by passengers. The roof channels rainwater for collection and use inside the terminal. Water-saving fixtures with automated controls impose less demand for water and waste treatment. Selective use of landscaping, paving materials, and roofing reflects and dissipates heat and stabilizes outdoor temperatures around the site.
An intuitive layout facilitates a seamless transition from ground to air transportation and vice-versa.
J.D. Power and Associates gave the terminal its highest marks in passenger satisfaction in a 2009 survey of 64 major airports. The terminal earned 777 points – the most of any airport surveyed – in airport accessibility, baggage claim, check-in and baggage check-in process, terminal facilities, ease of security checks, and food and retail services.
HOK served as design architect of the terminal, collaborating with Indianapolis-based AeroDesign Group.