The Orlando International Airport’s (MCO) new South Terminal Complex’s (STC) design establishes Orlando as a travel destination. As one of the world’s top vacation havens drawing over 50.6 million passengers to Florida each year, the design team’s intent is to create an iconic gateway to the region and connect passengers to Florida’s dynamic character. Principal design strategies include an incorporation of Orlando’s natural features, technology and urban design strategies to establish an unforgettable passenger experience while facilitating intuitive circulation to reduce the stress of travel.
ELEVATING THE ORLANDO EXPERIENCE
An exterior that reflects the architecture and character of Central Florida and a contemporary, flexible, and efficient interior design creates a unique sense of place centered on the traveler. The integration of architectural features, aesthetics, and amenities highlight Orlando’s central elements: the sky, gardens and water. Inside the 250,838-square-meter terminal, interactive screens display images of the region, allowing visitors to experience Central Florida. As passengers navigate the complex, they can enjoy the state’s natural environment as filtered daylight permeates the terminal’s glass ceiling, and gardens with local plants feature the region’s foliage. The correspondence of local character creates a unique sense of place with an airport experience that can only transpire in Orlando.
URBAN DESIGN APPROACH
Utilizing urban design strategies to create civic spaces throughout the design creates a smooth circulation while adapting to the changing needs of the users, community, and environment. The “Boulevard” is a passenger walkway at the center of the terminal that guides passengers while unifying elements that connect ground transportation, check-in, retail, and security screening in a straight line. The Town Square and Palm Court punctuate the Boulevard, serving as landmarks along the terminal similar to a city square or plaza. These daylit, garden-filled spaces provide central gathering spaces for passengers to enjoy the travel experience.
CELEBRATE THE ARRIVAL
The arrival experience is enhanced by flipping—both figuratively and literally—the conventional notion of how an airport terminal looks and feels. The terminal’s design shifts the paradigm of traditional airport planning by interchanging the arrivals and departure levels. After a long flight, arriving passengers are welcomed by Central Florida’s daylight and gardens as they enter a grand, light-filled space at the top level of the terminal. Views of the natural environment filter through the glass ceilings, offering a true sense of destination while celebrating the arrival of travelers to the US and Orlando.
AN INTERACTIVE AIRPORT EXPERIENCE
Interactive media screens seamlessly integrate into the terminal’s architecture, allowing visitors to experience Central Florida’s renowned theme parks and excursions firsthand while celebrating the region’s dynamic identity. Departing passengers will be able to showcase their own vacation images on the media screens to share with friends and family as they reminisce on their unforgettable travels.
Slated for completion in 2021, the design of the new South Terminal Complex will create an unprecedented passenger experience at Florida’s most visited airport.
Fentress Architects is a global design firm that passionately pursues the creation of sustainable and iconic architecture. Founded by Curtis Fentress in 1980, the firm has designed $43 billion of architectural projects worldwide, visited by more than 650 million people each year. Fentress’ global portfolio is renowned for innovative, award-winning design of airports, museums, convention center, laboratories, higher education, civic and government buildings, offices, mixed-use, religious and residential buildings. As a testament to the firm’s solution-driven and creative design approach, projects have been honored with over 650 awards for innovation and excellence. Fentress’ practice and work have been published in over 10,000 national and international articles in 58 countries.