JetBlue's New T5 Terminal At JFK Airport

By Jim Romeo | September 28, 2010

The terminal was built on an existing site with active air operations on both sides, with Terminal 4 to the south, and JetBlue's existing operation - Terminal 6, to the north.

The new JetBlue terminal at John F. Kennedy International (JFK) Airport in New York will unfold a modern new terminal to extend an era in air transportation. At its front door will be the iconic TWA terminal, which opened in 1962 and personified the adventure and advancement of air travel throughout the world.

The TWA terminal was the product of Eero Saarinen, the Finnish architect whose portfolio includes the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the main terminal at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, DC. The TWA terminal achieved eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places less than 50 years after its construction and stands as a classic example of the modernist movement in architecture. Despite the landmark's legendary gull-wing arches being removed, its existing tubes will be preserved and allow pass-through to the new T5 Terminal being constructed.

In the early stages of planning for the project, the airport layout plan would retain much of the historic TWA terminal, but the building would lose its "flight wings" where the gates are located. The building would be isolated from the airfield and would not be used as a passenger terminal. Constructing the new terminal around the original, landmark building was one of the project's biggest challenges.

Because of the historic significance of the TWA building, historic and preservation associations were consulting parties to the development. These included The Municipal Art Society of New York, The New York State Historic Preservation Office, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the New York Landmarks Conservancy, the Municipal Art Society of New York, and Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites, and Neighborhoods of the Modern Movement.

Work commenced on the project in December 2005, with an anticipated substantial completion and first flight date scheduled for October 2008. Final completion is expected by the end of first quarter 2009. New York-based Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) is the program manager for the construction of the new terminal that, according to Charles VanCook, PB's principal-in-charge for the project, required that JetBlue's design and construction team be clever in complementing the existing TWA landmark in both functionality and aesthetics. They "had to also be extremely careful not to do any damage," adds Van Cook.

The PB on-site team worked together with PB's subconsultant, ProjectConsult. The collaborative effort required that they direct resources optimally and track scores of contract packages while identifying critical pathways to deliver the project timeline.

The Terminal T5 Redevelopment Program consists of the construction of the new 640,000-square-foot terminal building with 26 gates, terminal access roads, airfield construction including hydrant fueling, a 1,500-space parking garage, and an elevated passenger connector to the existing AirTrain station. The new terminal will accommodate up to 250 flights daily.

"The project has five principal elements," explains Dana Martinez of ProjectConsult, the program manager and consultant to the program. These include the new terminal building, airside civil development, landside civil development, parking garage development, and the Terminal 5 skywalk.

"The terminal was built on an existing terminal site with active air operations on both sides, Terminal 4 to the south, and JetBlue's existing operation — Terminal 6, to the north," explains Chiri Fitzpatrick, a senior scheduler with Parsons Brinckeroff.

"The terminal development will occur at the location of the existing Terminal 5 and will also involve limited work relating to the historic TWA terminal building," explains Martinez, "including the demolition of the existing flight wings, and incorporation of the existing tubes to connect the historic building to the new terminal."

The terminal building itself will include a 26-gate concourse, an arrivals hall located at-grade, a second floor departures hall, a baggage systems and 20-lane security checkpoint, and the associated retail, ticketing and back office space for the airline.

Despite the landmark's legendary gull-wing arches being removed, its existing tubes will be preserved and allow pass-through to the new T5 Terminal being constructed.

"The airside development work includes the demolition of existing flight wings and out buildings, and the construction of new airfield paving to accommodate the new terminal alignment and JetBlue operations," says Martinez. "Also included are new civil utilities [to include new site drainage], the removal of existing hydrant fueling pipes, the installation of a new hydrant fueling system, and the associated electrical and communication work."

The landside development work includes the construction of new at-grade arrivals roadways and new elevated departures roadways. Also included are the construction of new utilities connected to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey infrastructure, which includes chilled water, TDS hot water, drainage, sanitary and sewer, water, electrical, and communications.

"The new roadway system will be constructed behind the existing Saarinen building with the at-grade roads passing under the existing Saarinen 'tubes,'" adds Martinez. "Elevated roadways include a precast section, which also serves as the roof to the arrivals hall and structural steel with cast-in-place deck. Additionally the north ramp is a Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) wall system."

Terminal 5's skywalk is an elevated connector from the new terminal to the existing AirTrain station. This connector is three stories above grade and has long span steel trusses. The terminal will also have six moving walkways.

According to Martinez, the "yellow" parking garage utilized a design-build contract. The garage is a six-story structure that can accommodate 1,500 vehicles. Its construction is considered to be hybrid, consisting of structural steel columns and beams, a precast double 'T' deck, and precast concrete spandrel beams. A pedestrian connector will connect passengers from the existing AirTrain station to the garage.

According to Chiri Fitzpatrick, JetBlue had constructed a temporary concourse to the east of the new terminal to accommodate operations until T6 was completed. "Because of this, the terminal and associated airside work was constructed in two phases," says Fitzpatrick. "Phase 1 included all demolition, all landside development, all terminal construction, with the exception of the installation of six passenger boarding bridges, all work on the yellow garage, all work on the sky walk, and work at the airside not impeded by JetBlue's current operation at Terminal T6."

Phase 2 work included the demolition of the temporary concourse, and the relocation and installation of six passenger boarding bridges from the temporary concourse at the new terminal. Phase 2 also included the completion of a hydrant fuel system and apron paving at the north end of the concourse.

Says Charles VanCook of Parsons Brinckeroff, "The greatest challenge is the eternal one in program management — to keep the program on schedule and under budget, and that challenge has been met thus far with resounding success." n


Terminal T5 Redevelopment Program Project Team

Project Owner: JetBlue Airways

Planning and Design Management: ARUP Consulting Engineers

Program Management Consultants: PB Americas, Inc. (including subconsultant ProjectConsult) and URS Corporation

Terminal Design (Including skywalk): Gensler

Civil Design, Airside and Landside: DMJM Harris

Construction Manager: Turner Construction Company

Yellow Parking Garage Design-Build: Peter Scalamandre and Sons, Inc., STV - Designer