San Francisco International Airport Terminal 1; San Francisco International Airport Terminal 1;

San Francisco International Airport Terminal 1 – The Harvey Milk Terminal, San Francisco, California

New terminal will revolutionise the travel experience for millions of guests

Terminal 1 of the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) was built in the early 1960s. However, in recent years, the aging terminal couldn’t keep up with the demands of the millions of passengers who pass through it every year. 

The Terminal 1 Program has been executed by two separate teams that have been working in close collaboration since the beginning: Boarding Area B (with an Austin-Webcor joint venture as general contractor and a design team led by HKS-Woods Bagot-ED2-KYA joint venture architects) and Terminal 1 Center (with Hensel Phelps as general contractor and a design team led by Gensler-Kuth Ranieri joint venture architects). The airport arranged for both teams to work together in a co-working space on the SFO campus known as the “Big Room,” with over 120 design and construction professionals situated together to deliver the program as a single team. SFO’s goal was to revolutionise their guest experience, while revising, fostering, and celebrating a modern romance of travel.

Arup was appointed as the primary designer for the airside elements of the project, including aviation planning, civil engineering, and sustainability consulting, in addition to building design services including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and acoustics/audio-visual. Opened partially in July 2019 with 9 gates, the project will ultimately deliver 25 aircraft gates by 2023, all in a spacious two-level terminal building. The building features an art gallery, food halls, concessions, an automated baggage handling system, connections to ground transportation, and new post-security connections to the international terminal, enabling the new facility to handle both domestic and international flights.

As the lead airside civil engineer for the project, we were also responsible for design and construction administration of the 30-acre apron and taxiway reconfiguration, which is being delivered in multiple stages. We coordinated extensively with the airport’s airside logistics team to maintain operational flexibility during the staged construction and during operation for the apron and taxi reconfiguration.

Project Summary

$720m project

25aircraft gates

2023all gates open

Delivering energy efficiency

Our multidisciplinary teams helped deliver a highly energy-efficient building despite the intense energy uses of a 24/7 airport terminal. The mechanical system features extensive use of radiant ceilings for heating and cooling, allowing for a smaller and extremely efficient displacement ventilation system. Electrochromic glazing is used throughout the concourse level to provide high-quality daylight while eliminating glare. An advanced modular baggage handling system – the first of its kind in the United States – uses half the energy of typical belt-type conveyors.

Maintaining operations while making improvements

We collaborated with the design-build contractor to determine a phased approach and construction schedule that maintains aircraft operations and flexibility. Phasing is optimised using temporary remote gates, reconfiguring existing gates, and interim grading solutions. Temporary utilities allow existing services and system redundancy to be maintained while the permanent facilities are built. 

Rendering of the SFO Terminal 1 redevelopment Rendering of the SFO Terminal 1 redevelopment

Modern aircraft parking

Our aviation planning specialists developed a new aircraft parking plan that flexibly accommodates a modern aircraft fleet mix, including several two-for-one multi-aircraft ramp system gates sized for A380 aircraft. We worked closely with airline and airport stakeholders, as well as the airport fire department, to fully understand the ramp operation and safety practices from all perspectives. 

Boarding Area B now has vehicle service roads both at the tail of stand and head of stand; head of stand roads are a first for SFO, so this represented a quantum shift in thinking and planning the ramp operation. 


Building with sustainable materials

SFO is committed to protecting global and human health, and Arup worked with the multidisciplinary design team to make sure everything from structural materials to floor finishes to unique systems met rigorous sustainability criteria. By optimising the cement content of the structural concrete, we were able to reduce the embodied carbon footprint of the entire building by over 10%. The furniture, carpeting, and wall coverings are all free of the toxic flame retardants routinely added to fabrics. In a first for the building industry, we are obtaining an environmental product declaration for the passenger boarding bridges — a critical piece of information that allows for the assessment and improvement of the environmental footprint of building components. And we are protecting occupant health by reviewing all interior materials against strict air emission criteria.

As part of the sustainability effort, SFO is incentivising airlines and ground service providers to shift their vehicle fleets from diesel to electric. We carried out a study to assess the appropriate number of electric vehicle charging stations assuming a 100% electric vehicle fleet and implemented these into the plan.

Arup’s technical aptitude has allowed the project team to explore coordinated solutions that provide both financial and operational efficiencies while meeting the aspirations of designing a world-class terminal. ” Wayne Campbell Project & Design Manager, Austin Webcor Joint Venture

The airside grading and utilities were modelled using AutoCAD Civil 3D – integrated into the project’s BIM model using AutoDesk BIM 360 Glue — to facilitate sharing, coordination, and clash detection in a “real-time” 3D environment. This accessible platform provided a single shared space for the design and construction teams to design, collaborate, innovate, and ultimately construct and document the project.

"Stress-testing" the design with WeatherShift

As the airport is a piece of critical infrastructure located adjacent to the San Francisco Bay, we conducted a resiliency assessment of the project’s airside drainage infrastructure for a range of projected future climate change scenarios. We employed the WeatherShiftTM tool to test the robustness of the drainage design, using climate change models that predict rainfall intensity increases of 10% to 25% by 2090. 

This “stress-test” informed design adjustments that increase the system’s resilience under the higher-intensity storms that are predicted to occur in the future. Most of the drainage system is capable of handling the increased rainfall intensity, but an isolated susceptible "weak link" in the system was upsized from 18in to 24in to provide suitable additional resilience. The cost of the improvement to provide additional resilience was nominal (less than $5,000), which represented exceptional value in comparison to the potential costs of future operational and maintenance impacts.