August 19, 2022
Today is National Aviation Day, a day that honors Orville Wright’s birthday. Brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright were the first people in history to create a “free, controlled and sustained flight in a power-driven, heavier than air machine.” Their ingenuity set humanity on a path for global exploration and provided invaluable accessibility to the world outside our community.
Epstein’s architects and engineers have complemented aviation projects since nearly the dawn of commercial air transportation. Since the 1930’s, Epstein’s talented architects, engineers and interior designers have designed and improved air transportation facilities throughout the world. Epstein’s experience includes not only the design of air concourses and terminals, but also the master planning, topographical studies, taxiway and runway construction, and reconstruction of airports. Epstein has also provided DesignBuild and construction management services for cargo facilities, warehouses and hangars. Epstein’s material handling engineers have consulted on baggage and sorting systems for some of the world’s busiest airports. Epstein’s interior design portfolio includes concession stands, VIP lounges, employee offices, cafeterias and restaurants, environmental signage, reservation facilities and sales offices.
One of Epstein’s most ambitious and groundbreaking Aviation projects was the development of Midway International Airport’s Passenger Terminal. Epstein served as the Design Team Leader for this urban $400M, 965,000 square foot facility. The terminal was completed in 2004 and provides metropolitan Chicago’s 10 million residents with a second much needed major modern airfield. Epstein’s architects, engineers, interior and graphic designers played a critical role in the design and construction of Midway’s new parking garage, concourse, terminal, concessions, taxiways, runways, and environmental signage. The focal point of Midway is the dynamic 270-foot long, 60-foot wide glass and steel bridge that connects the parking garage with the concourse and terminal. This pedestrian bridge is designed to reiterate the terminal and concourse architectural design of abundant natural light and high, exposed structural steel, allowing for City of Chicago-sponsored promotional installations, temporary art displays and plantings.
Shortly after completing the new Midway Airport Passenger Terminal, Epstein’s architects and engineers were asked to design an expansion to Midway International Airport’s North Security Hall. Designed pre-9/11, the Security Hall did not have the capacity to meet the needs and requirements of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Epstein designed this 20,000 square foot, two-story expansion to address the strict TSA mandates in a manner that was seamless to the existing building. All interior and exterior finishes matched existing conditions, and the flyover approach roadway was modified to accommodate all changes proposed for the entire expansion project. The new addition has added eight new lanes for passengers to go through. This has considerably reduced the time it takes for passengers to pass through the Security Checkpoint.
In addition to these significant projects, Epstein was the Lead Engineer for Runway 9L-27R, the first of the new runways of the O'Hare Modernization Program. Runway 9L-27R is a new 7,500-foot long, 150 foot wide, Group V-capable Cat II/III runway, which became operational in 2008. The project includes a parallel taxiway and associated high-speed exits, a runway and taxiway underdrain system, pavement markings and NAVAIDS systems. The project was executed while the airport remained at full operation. Epstein was responsible for project management, conceptual design validation, design of mass grading, drainage erosion control, utilities and paving, cost estimating, QA/QC, and construction support, and provided coordination with the Department of Aviation, O’Hare Modernization Program, Federal Aviation Administration, and TSA as well design teams responsible for other enabling projects at the airport.
The interior design team at Epstein was tasked with programming, planning and designing improvements to O’Hare International Airport’s Terminal 5 Concessions Program, a project that included base building improvements and modifications required to prepare the new and reconfigured concession spaces, as well as redeveloped common areas, restrooms and a new TSA checkpoint. The Concessions Program at Terminal 5 was expanded from 15,000 to 26,000 square feet. To accomplish this, the original TSA Checkpoint was relocated, new concessions areas were added throughout the terminal and infrastructure modifications were made to support this redevelopment. The design goals for this project include promoting Terminal 5, which serves as O'Hare's international as the 'Gateway to the World', developing an award-winning, world class concession program, transforming the retail experience to an airside environment, and creating an innovative sense of place that reflects Chicago.
Epstein also provided interior design as well as lighting design and structural engineering services for the interior renovation of the O’Hare International Airport Pedestrian Tunnels connecting Terminals 1, 2, and 3 to the O’Hare Hilton and elevated parking structure, including Construction Phase services. The tunnels were recently completed and open to the public.
Epstein provided interior architectural design as well as electrical engineering and lighting design services for the modernization of 22 existing men’s and women’s restrooms in Terminals 1 and 3 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The new designs integrated several family restrooms and mother’s rooms as well. The Restroom Modernization Project include state-of-the-art lavatories with water, soap and hand dryer dispensers all located at the sink in order to reduce paper waste and water on the floor. Wider and deeper toilet stalls improve overall circulation and comfort for passengers. Energy efficient lighting and a mechanical exhaust improved the updated restrooms. New finishes and materials were selected to provide long-term durability while improving the traveler’s experience.
Epstein provided engineering and architectural services required to design the replacement of the ORD Emergency and Standby Power System Generators 1-6 which were previously located in the H&R Plant at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The ORD Emergency and Standby Power System supports loads internal to the H&R Plant and also provides reserve power for certain loads in the terminals and concourses. In the event of a regional disaster as airports are extremely vital parts of the region’s infrastructure for obtaining urgently needed supplies and assistance. The previous standby power system in the H&R Plant was designed to permit critical loads in the H&R Plant to continue functioning. In addition, it provided standby power to critical loads in the terminals and concourses.
These projects are simply a broad look at Epstein's aviation portfolio. With hundreds of air transportation projects successfully completed, Epstein is highly regarded throughout the world as a major contributor to the industry. This extensive experience will allow Epstein to continue to play an integral role in the development of major airports and serving airline and public sector clients far into the future.