LaGuardia Terminal B Headhouse opens in $8 billion airport redevelopment milestone

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The new LaGuardia Airport Terminal B Arrivals and Departures Hall (Headhouse) opened on June 10,representing a significant milestone in the $8 billion airport transportation project

Skanska is the lead partner of the Skanska-Walsh Joint Venture responsible for the construction and design, in partnership with HOK and WSP, of the new Terminal B. Skanska is also a founding member of LaGuardia Gateway Partners, selected in 2015 by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to deliver and manage this extensive capital redevelopment project – a key component of the ongoing $8 billion transformation of LaGuardia into a unified, 21st-century airport.

Skanska says the new Headhouse is the central entry point for travelers flying out of Terminal B, with seamless integration to passenger concourses and gates, the new parking garage, and the Central Hall that connects to Terminal C and the planned future AirTrain. The building, which spans four levels, will transform the customer experience and streamline airport operations.

“Today is a special day for Skanska as we celebrate the most significant milestone yet on our largest-ever project – the LaGuardia Airport that New Yorkers deserve,” said Richard Kennedy, president and CEO, Skanska USA. “We’re grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine LaGuardia from the ground up, and for the thousands of employees, subcontractors and trades who logged millions of hours helping us realize this vision.”

The new Headhouse features an open floor plan with 60-foot tall ceilings and a glass façade that floods the 850,000 square foot facility with natural light. The first floor includes a new ground transportation center for arriving passengers, followed by the arrivals hall and baggage claim on level two, and check-in on level three. The fourth-floor features shops, restaurants and other customer amenities, and concourse bridges.

“The opening of the first new Arrivals and Departure Hall is a major milestone in delivering on Governor Cuomo’s vision for a brand new, world-class, 21st century LaGuardia Airport that the region deserves,” said Rick Cotton, executive director, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “We thank our contractor Skanska-Walsh, subcontractors, and union construction workers who worked thorough the pandemic to deliver this extraordinary building on time and on budget. Today’s opening should be a shining symbol of the region’s potential for a strong economic recovery with the vitality of New York before COVID-19.”

The LaGuardia redevelopment started in 2016 and is the largest public-private-partnership (P3) in U.S. aviation history

Under the project plan plan, old facilities are demolished only as new facilities are completed to ensure the airport – which handled a record 31 million passengers in 2019 – never loses capacity. For example, the new Headhouse sits in the footprint of what was the old P2 Parking Garage. To make room for the Headhouse, Skanska first constructed a new, seven-story Terminal B Parking Garage – which opened in February 2018 – allowing for the demolition of the old facility.

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LaGuardia Terminal B, Location: Queens, New York, LaGuardia Gateway Pertners

The most recent milestone in the redevelopment was the completion of the Terminal B Eastern Concourse. The Eastern Concourse opened to the public in December 2018 and houses a total of 18 gates with modern customer amenities, state-of-the-art architecture, and more spacious gate areas. The second new concourse is currently under construction and will bring Terminal B’s overall capacity to 35 gates upon completion.

“The Arrivals and Departures Hall as well as the earlier opening of the eastern concourse is a testament to the dedication and talent of the Skanska-Walsh Joint Venture team and its tireless employees and partners,” said Stewart Steeves, Chief Executive Officer of LaGuardia Gateway Partners. “We are proud to have worked with Skanska and all of our partners in making this world class terminal a reality through design build. We are so proud that this team was able to carry out Governor Cuomo’s vision for a better guest experience for all New Yorkers and visitors.”

Dual pedestrian bridges will connect the Headhouse to Terminal B’s two island concourses. The Eastern Concourse Pedestrian Bridge that opens today is approximately 420 feet long and elevated 65 feet above the ground. Skanska and the design joint-venture HOK and WSP designed these bridges to span active aircraft taxi lanes underneath – frequent bottlenecks under the old airport design – which will improve aircraft taxi circulation and ultimately help reduce traveler delays. Once both terminals are completed, LaGuardia will be the first U.S. airport to feature two of these innovative pedestrian bridges.

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LaGuardia Terminal B, Location: Queens, New York, LaGuardia Gateway Pertners

The new Terminal B baggage handling system stretches over seven miles, with approximately two miles of corresponding walkways, and powered by 1,200 individual motors designed to switch off when not in use to reduce energy consumption. The baggage claim system runs through the walls and the ceilings, a construction feat equivalent to building a rollercoaster in a closet.

In addition to the Headhouse opening, Skanska-Walsh will complete the construction of 17 new roadway bridges, more than eight miles of new roadways, and nearly two miles of new taxiway space that will improve aircraft circulation and reduce taxi times, associated delays, and overall carbon emissions from idling aircraft. The new roadway network will feature 16 fewer traffic lights.

In preparation for the overnight transition from old terminal to new terminal, roadway logistics require the deactivation and demolition of the old Central Terminal Building incoming flyover bridge to launch a 216 foot, two lane temporary bridge carrying vehicles into the arrivals level. Following the Headhouse opening day, the team will then complete the balance of the arrivals level construction under the temporary bridge by year end. The project is slated to complete by the fall of 2022.

In July 2018, Skanska opened its first new flyover roadway to LaGuardia from the Grand Central Parkway’s Eastbound Exit 7, the primary roadway or overpass for vehicles accessing the airport, which greatly improved traffic flow and congestion. 

Skanska says in a statement that its use of emerging technologies and other innovative tools have been critical in delivering a project of this scale and complexity. The team developed a series of three-dimensional models – as well as 4D or time-dependent models – to develop the project phasing that visualized both the new airport layout and how the existing structures and roadway networks would be staged and modified over the project’s duration. With the schedule in place, Skanska used 360-degree photography and laser scanning to capture accurate, real-time construction updates. These allowed the team to measure progress, work collaboratively with subcontractors to resolve construction challenges, and coordinate work across different areas of the project site.

The company says the project represents the largest partnering with minority-and women-owned (MWBE) businesses to date on a single contract in New York State history. “Skanska is proud to have led a robust outreach, contracting, and training effort resulting in exceeding the $687 million MWBE participation goal,” Skanska said in its statement.

“Skanska has a long history of engaging the MWBE contracting community to support the growth of their businesses. Since 2006, Skanska has offered the Construction Management Building Blocks (CMBB) program designed to equip MWBE firms with tools and resources to become successful as MWBE contractors and pursue opportunities on major infrastructure projects like LaGuardia. To date, the program has provided 9,586 hours of training to 378 registered firms across the New York Metro Region. Between 2016 and 2018, Skanska-Walsh has offered three CMBB training programs built around opportunities on the LaGuardia redevelopment.”

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