San Diego International Airport Expands Using Design-Build

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San Diego International Airport Expands Using Design-Build

Issue 4 of 2014


In the past 30 years, San Diego has gone from a city of less than a million people to the second-largest city in California. With more than three million people in the metro area and an economy focused on defense, tourism and international trade, it was time for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority to double the size of the airport, and they turned to design-build project delivery to do so.

“The Green Build — Contract 1 is a fantastic success story,” says Jamie Sipes, operations manager, Turner-PCL-Flatiron, a Joint Venture. “As part of the first design-build and the largest project in the history of the San Diego International Airport, the project was completed under budget and on time and serves as a shining example of the success the design-build delivery process can achieve.”

The terminal portion of the project is a 10-gate, three-level, 460,000-square-foot expansion to an existing nine-gate airport terminal. The Green Build — Contract 1 consists of three main components: the terminal, the airside and the central plant. The project includes a new 12-station security screening checkpoint, checked baggage inspection screening system for 20 gates, 41,000 square feet of food concession and retail market space, 14,000 square feet of airline club space with airline ticketing and operations spaces and an integrated ramp control tower.

The design-build team of Turner-PCL-Flatiron made excellence in design a focus of the project. To make the passengers’ airport experience memorable, the team recommended 15 pieces of art be displayed throughout the terminal and the site. Instead of simply hanging up paintings or placing sculptures in the middle of a terminal, the design-build team worked with the Airport Authority to blend the artwork seamlessly into the building. This way, passengers can experience the artwork as they walk through the terminal, creating a lasting memorable experience. Furthermore, window placements and natural lighting are expertly situated so that San Diego Bay can be seen from the airport terminal.

Design-build is the delivery method of choice when innovation is important to an owner, and the San Diego Airport expansion is no different. The project incorporated innovative energy efficiencies, water conservation practices, passenger amenities such as power outlets and entertainment venues in the terminal, power for battery-charged aircraft ground services vehicles, re-use of the brownfield site for “smart curb” check-in, allowing passengers to check-in as they are dropped off.

While the owner envisioned a goal of LEED® Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, modern design and construction techniques resulted in an even more prestigious LEED Platinum certification. That achievement can be partially attributed to Turner-PCL-Flatiron’s expert use of design-build best practices to establish constant communication between the owner, architect, engineer and contractor throughout the entire project. This consistent and early communication allowed for a LEED certification probability matrix to track the points needed and significant milestones. As design progressed, the probability matrix was updated and allowed for the project team to direct its efforts from areas where success was assured to areas of need. The design-build process allowed the team to incorporate and utilize a vast breadth of knowledge, resulting in the world’s first LEED Platinum certification for a commercial airport terminal.

“Collaboration between designers, engineers, consultants, contractors and the owner was essential to accomplish this extremely complex project,” Sipes continued.

Completed in 2013, the Green Build Contract 1 — San Diego International Airport Terminal 2 West and Airside Expansion has been honored with a 2014 National Award of Merit and National Award of Excellence in the Aviation category from DBIA.