In an era of more stringent security measures, travelers are spending more time at airports and want to pass that time relaxing, working, socializing, dining and enjoying the best amenities. PCL Construction has worked with clients on hundreds of airports projects to deliver passengers an enjoyable travel experience.  

Staying connected is essential for a positive passenger experience, and PCL’s airport clients demand connectivity in every space. Connectivity was a hot topic for Los Angeles International Airport when PCL was building the $1.8 billion Midfield Satellite Concourse North (MSC), an expansion of the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

For the MSC project, PCL tied electrical wiring into every seating configuration in the public seating areas and member lounges. There are standard electrical outlets and USB plug-ins between every seat and a stronger Wi-Fi system throughout the building.

“Airports are specific about maintaining traveler productivity,” says Blake Holtom, construction manager with PCL. “LAX wanted a more robust Wi-Fi system because everybody accesses it at an airport; they sit down and get on their phone.” 

Airport clients, also keen on boosting revenue, are evolving their airport amenities to appeal to passengers who are spending an increasing amount of time in airports. 

“Since the advent of the Transportation Security Administration, we’ve seen an evolution of how airports are used,” explains Dan Johnson, a Special Projects manager at PCL. “Once travelers pass through security, they’re isolated from the outside so there’s a push to create an enjoyable experience,” he says, adding that passengers are seeking comfortable places to get work done, socialize or take a break. “Airports and proprietors recognize the opportunity to seize that captive audience, and they’re competing for eyeballs and wallets.”

Johnson says airlines are racing to provide travelers with best-in-class amenities. Member lounges “wow” guests, build brand awareness and feature upscale experiences that passengers won’t find on the public concourse.

PCL built the stunning Delta Sky Club at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac) with long-haul international passengers in mind. The two-story lounge features floor-to-ceiling windows with a panoramic view of Mount Rainier, comfy seating, a buffet with locally inspired cuisine, local art, a spa, showers and, of course, charging outlets at every seat.  

“Airlines dedicate a great deal of attention and care to provide travelers with a comfortable place to make their journey better than if they were flying with someone else,” says Johnson.

PCL also led construction efforts for the Alaska Airlines Concourse C Lounge at SeaTac, where members can relax and take in a mountain view, catch up on work, grab a snack and a enjoy a complimentary glass of beer or wine. The team recently completed a lounge expansion and is working on a refresh of the Alaska Airlines Concourse D Lounge.

Airlines offer travelers a delightful layover experience in airport member lounges. Financial services companies also want to be part of this in their quest to build brand awareness. PCL has achieved substantial completion on the new American Express Centurion Lounge, relocated to the mezzanine level of SeaTac’s Central Terminal and now open to the public. “Branding is used as a gateway to drive revenue generation for these companies, and they’re tapping into passengers who are willing to pay more for creature comforts and conveniences,” says Johnson. The American Express Centurion Lounge is PCL’s twelfth completed lounge project at SeaTac.

In the American Express Centurion Lounge, card members can sip cocktails, soft drinks or wine and enjoy locally curated menu items. There’s even a full barista-run coffee bar. To provide an elevated culinary experience, PCL installed a commercial kitchen that one would expect at a full-service restaurant.

“What makes American Express stand out from other lounges is the chefs they employ and the quality of food they deliver to their card members,” says Cody Glasgow, senior project manager at PCL in Seattle. “American Express partners with local celebrity chefs to create scalable recipes. That extra effort helps them stand out.” 

Some guests are willing to pay a premium to use member lounges, but airports keep all guests in mind when they begin a construction project.

“MSC wanted an easily accessible space and good signage,” says Holtom. “They also wanted the concourse to be beautiful and efficient while complementing the look of the Tom Bradley Terminal.”

The Tom Bradley International Terminal roofline resembles waves crashing against a shoreline; MSC continues the aquatic theme with a roofline that mirrors more calming waves farther out at sea. In the underground pedestrian tunnel that connects the two buildings, travelers can hop on a moving walkway to the connecting terminal. On the way, digital screens illuminate the walls, advertising local restaurants, events and attractions to travelers in search of the L.A. experience.

The main concourse is set up like a regular shopping mall. Everyone passes through the prime shopping space, a sea of retail shops, restaurants and bars that offers price points to satisfy every budget.

Floor-to-ceiling curtain walls allow light into the concourse and offer passengers a front-row view of planes on the tarmac. Gates grouped together create “urban neighborhoods,” reflective of Los Angeles communities, and offer amenities such as food and retail kiosks, play areas and various seating options.

Featured artwork piques the interest of passengers with a few minutes to spare. PCL has worked with the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority over the past 10 years, installing several commissioned artworks in the Terminal 2 Expansion at the San Diego International Airport, including a 700-foot-long purple overhead LED light display called The Journey that guides travelers through the terminal, and Taxonomy of a Cloud, a suspended ceiling sculpture made from aluminum tubing and 365 strands of Swarovski crystal that look like falling raindrops. While constructing the San Diego International Airport’s Federal Inspection Station, PCL installed a 300-foot-long glass art wall called Carry On, which displays hundreds of photos and images of personal objects superimposed over abstracted X-rays of carry-on bags. The display brings to mind stories about artifacts found in the luggage of travelers. 

PCL is working with the Los Angeles International Airport to make the car rental experience seamless for travelers. The $1.2 billion Consolidated Rent-A-Car (ConRAC) Facility will bring together more than a dozen rental car companies in a 6 million square-foot complex. ConRAC will be the world’s largest rental car facility.

“Getting from the Interstate 405 freeway to the airport causes a lot of headaches,” says John McCully, senior project manager with PCL. “ConRAC is right next to the 405, so accessing the airport will be easier.”

ConRAC is connected to the Automated People Mover (APM), an electric elevated platform train that will provide free rides to and from airport stations and terminals.

“You can park your car at ConRAC and take the train to and from the airport,” says McCully. “That 10-minute train ride is so much better than navigating LAX traffic congestion. It’s going to be fantastic.”  

PCL has successfully delivered nearly 700 aviation projects across the United States and Canada, and our network of specialized employees and partners has built projects valued from $10,000 to more than $2 billion. That breadth of experience makes PCL stand out as a top contractor in airport development.

PCL meticulously plans and builds every airport project with passenger care in mind. Sometimes the greatest challenge is making sure travelers can seamlessly move about the airport as we build to make their experience even better. Even with construction underway, an airport client’s goal is business as usual with as little interruption as possible. PCL provides ample wayfinding signage for passengers, secures construction areas so they aren’t publicly accessible or visible and works as much as possible during off-peak hours.

Bob Hopfenberg, PCL’s vice president of national business development, says the passenger experience at airports will continue to evolve, noting the potential for more amenities such as barbershops, salons, spas and even golf simulators to help travelers pass the time.

“We’ve literally done it all,” says Hopfenberg, “and our extensive airport construction experience has given our employees the proper mindset to work in an active airport environment. We continually gain and share knowledge and consider every detail as we drive each project toward on-time, on-budget completion.”