Over the past 20 years, Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) has become one of the busiest airports in the world. As a cornerstone of its long-term initiative to meet continued growth, CLT sought a 370,000-square-foot expansion and renovation of its main terminal lobby. Gresham Smith’s innovative solution marries a sense of place with smart design to accommodate passengers’ needs while helping the airport deliver a touch of Southern hospitality—Charlotte style.


Charlotte Douglas International Airport


Charlotte, North Carolina

Project Type



Showcase, 2020 AIA Tampa Bay Design Award, 2020 AIA Richmond Design Award


square-foot expansion and renovation of the main terminal lobby


square-foot curbside canopy


passengers annually

Video Fly-Thru

Curbside Connections

One of the iconic design features of the expanded terminal experience is a soaring 150,000-square-foot curbside canopy. Lending a bright, airy feeling to the curbside area, the canopy keeps both loading and unloading passengers protected from the outside elements by covering the entire upper-level roadway. It also connects the terminal curbside and the existing rental car/hourly parking garage.

Capturing the Spirit of Charlotte

Capturing the Spirit of Charlotte

Designed to meet the needs of travelers with an emphasis on convenience, clarity and comfort, the terminal lobby expansion captures the unique spirit of Charlotte and its surrounding region. Doubling the size of the existing terminal to reduce congestion, the new terminal offers grand spaces, as well as enhanced wayfinding, circulation, baggage operations and technologies, that meaningfully elevate the passenger experience at CLT.
Making Their Presence Known

Making Their Presence Known

The expansion is accented by clearly identified, open and acoustically treated environments to help reduce stress. Designed to make their presence known, the two primary security checkpoints eliminate any question of where they are or how busy they are. The reduction of five security checkpoints to three will not only increase TSA staffing at each point, but will also lead to greater efficiencies in passenger processing.

Emphasizing the Arrival Experience

Our concept for the new, expanded terminal uses converging pathways and strategically placed floor openings to provide a grand arrival experience designed to appeal to Charlotte residents and visitors alike.

The focal point of the experience will be the existing statue of Queen Charlotte—a prominent fixture at the airport that provided inspiration for the design. This regal landmark will be combined with comfortable seating and new concessions resulting in a relaxed meeting place for families and friends.

Enhanced, Intuitive Wayfinding

Enhanced, Intuitive Wayfinding

As more than 44 million passengers travel through CLT annually, we listened to a few of them—2,000 passengers to be precise—about what’s important to them when it comes to navigating the space. Based on surveys from customers, we came up with a wayfinding master plan to help travelers find their way without getting lost or confused, addressing the entire wayfinding experience—from the gateway to the gate areas.


Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) Terminal Lobby Expansion Designed by Gresham Smith
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) Terminal Lobby Expansion Designed by Gresham Smith
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) Terminal Lobby Expansion Designed by Gresham Smith

Project Contact

Our team designs with genuine care for ingenious solutions.

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David King, AIA
David King, AIA
Regional Vice President