Avoiding a Ride on a Three-Humped
International Terminal D opened
in July at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport marking
a major accomplishment in the planning, development, design
and construction of one of the largest, most complex projects
ever built in Texas.
David Lind is managing principal
Associate's Dallas office
The recently completed International Terminal D project at
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport spanned from 1996,
when the Airport Development Plan was updated, to the day
the first passenger departed the new facility this past summer.
Projects of this complexity, scale and duration can quickly
be derailed by a whole series of events, which can cost a
project hundreds of millions of dollars. The development of
a project as big as Terminal D requires a focus on the building
and maintenance of consensus throughout the design process.
Design is, by definition, subjective and mysterious to most.
Layered on top of stakeholders who have varying agendas and
sometimes opposing objectives, a project environment can arise
that resists forward progress, penalizing the project in time
Consensus building is important in any project, but even
more so in airport terminal projects involving a wide range
of constituents. The pressure to design the most cost-efficient,
maintainable terminal under a projected budget is heightened
by rising costs for these projects. The need to design an
up-to-date, secure facility with decades of future viability
increases the importance of consensus-building. Prompt design
decisions can combat these challenges and add millions to
the constructed value of a terminal, avoiding riding a three-humped
Political savvy is no doubt a component to building consensus,
but a few fundamentals are essential to quickly and effectively
gather parties around an innovative solution.
Focus on the Facts Corgan Associates Inc. served at the architect
of record for the project. Corgan's knowledge of both terminal
design and airline/airport operations helped maintain the
focus on the facts as viewed by the end user. A terminal is
not just architecture, it is a business platform, and focusing
on the operational and business aspects of the design builds
credibility; but more important, it builds trust and strengthens
ability to call an end to extensive debate and polarization
along the wrong issues. Disparate groups can come to an agreement
more quickly during the design process when facts can be separated
from emotion, politics and guesswork about a design issue
and the various parties involved are confronted with the truth
and indisputable facts. Corgan cut its teeth in the airport
design business working for years with American Airlines'
CEO Robert Crandall. Crandall taught Corgan how to work effectively
with tough senior executives that gave the firm little time
to develop the program requirements, do fact-finding and present
solution alternatives to complex problems.
Reveal the Consequences Alternative design solutions can
be developed that respond to the facts in different ways and
have widely different outcomes. Corgan utilizes "decision
trees" as a method to graphically examine various design
solution outcomes and consequences of design decisions. Outlining
each option in this way lets the client see every step; sequential
>> decision; and the consequences in terms of cost,
schedule, levels of service, capacity and impacts on related
programs. This process engages stakeholders and tends to reveal
the total business costs of decisions, not just construction
costs. Rather than leading clients to decisions, Corgan allows
decision-makers to make decisions.
Rapid Prototyping Design is an enigmatic process to most
involved with facilities. Terminal design is usually approved
by airline executives and airport staff who are not normally
available to respond to design issues. Corgan has borrowed
a technique from the industrial and product design fields
called "rapid prototyping" - a process that gets
to the subjective side of design. We put hundreds of options
in front of decision-makers including roof forms, finishes,
exterior walls, penetration, lighting and all the components
of a terminal that define its aesthetics. The process is controlled
and helps Corgan gather input, quickly zeroing in on subjective
preferences. This method also engages clients and enhances
their level of participation.
Animation Traditionally, computer animation has been used
by architects to display an image of a building after it has
been designed. Corgan learned that the highest value for such
visualization is during the design process to again show options,
improve understanding of the design and seek approvals. Old-fashioned
Basswood models remain intriguing to both the public and stakeholders,
but they take too long to construct, changes cannot be made
easily and the models do not allow clients to be "inside
the space" before it is built. Animation has become increasingly
sophisticated to allow clients to review materials and finish
options and lighting/daylighting during various times of day.
People, cars and other entourage can be added, which move
in real-time. This makes animation a useful tool in understanding
passenger processing and levels of service issues. They can
be completed quickly, keeping pace with the design process
and facilitating design decisions. DFW engaged our media lab
to provide a sophisticated animation that followed the path
of arriving and departing passengers in all the areas of Terminal
D. All the finishes, lighting, graphics and equipment were
illustrated in precise detail. There was no secret about the
design and, as a result, no disappointment at the outcome.
As the building was finished, many at DFW were pleased at
the true-to-life form of the terminal from the animated images.
Animation was used successfully as a tool that took months
out of the program and saved millions in potential design
missteps and back tracking.