Monday, 10 June 2013

Airports: They’re about making an entrance!

Madrid-Barajas Airport, Madrid, by Richard Rogers
Richard Rogers’ Madrid-Barajas airport.

Architectural critic Paul Goldberger reckons that airports today are like the great railway terminals of yesteryear: the gateway to the adventure and romance of a new city. In short, it’s all about arrival--something most airports do so poorly.

Where they exist at airports, he says, the more impressive spaces are usually located in the airports' departure halls. Those passengers are rushing to clear security and catch flights and don't have time to appreciate their space. The arrivals hall usually doesn't inspire much.
    "When you arrive, you're shunted to a lower level to baggage claim and go through what feels like a service (exit)," says Goldberger, who regularly flies through New York and New Jersey's bustling but not very beautiful airports.
    Although most airports don't meet his wish for a "grand welcome" -- even the ones he likes -- some architects are designing lovely airports that are worth admiring.
Here are some of the airport designs Goldberger has appreciated or is hankering to see for himself.

Architect Richard Rogers brought beautiful changing colors to Madrid-Barajas Airport in Spain. The main terminal's departures area is shown here.
Richard Rogers’ Madrid-Barajas airport, departure area.

Light comes through large skylights into the circulation systems at Madrid-Barajas Airport's check-in and departures area.
Richard Rogers’ Madrid-Barajas airport, check-in and departure.


  1. Vancouver airport is *stunning* - at least it was when I was last there in 2002.

  2. On the other hand people departing at an airport generally spend some time waiting for their flight to depart, check in times are at least half an hour before boarding so they have plenty of time to admire the architecture. Arrivals on the other hand are in a hurry to get to their destination and spend much less time in the terminal and are also preoccupied with getting their luggage and going through customs.


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