Since beginning work on Richmond International Airport’s (RIC) long-term master plan in 1994, Gresham Smith has designed numerous projects to enhance the airport’s infrastructure and related facilities, including a new Central Energy Plant (CEP), new communications infrastructure, a Snow Removal Equipment (SRE) storage building, and a variety of private and public hangar facilities.

A new CEP completed in 2007 provided additional capacity for the airport’s concurrent terminal expansion. The design included new cooling towers, chillers, boilers, distribution piping, variable frequency drives, pumps, switchgear, emergency power generators, controls and integration with the facility-wide Building Management System to ensure optimal performance, reporting and control.  In addition to providing redundancy for preventative maintenance, Gresham Smith’s design allows for the future expansion of the Central Energy Plant by establishing locations for future cooling towers, chillers, boilers and associated pump sets.

To facilitate the airport’s modernization, Gresham Smith also provided services for the design and construction of new communications infrastructure completed in 2002. Elements included a primary communications facility, several communications rooms and a new structured cabling system to support voice, data and video communications, a new airport-wide public address system, and a new Multi-User Flight Information Display System (MUFIDS) consisting of new software and select hardware to display flight and baggage information throughout the facility.

Among the various Gresham Smith-designed buildings and hangars at RIC is a new facility to house the airport’s snow removal equipment. The 32,100-square-foot pre-engineered metal SRE building features 17 vehicle bays with sleeping and locker room facilities for up to 20 people and is fortified to support a 7.5-ton top-mounted gantry (bridge) crane. Gresham Smith’s innovative design incorporates clearstory glazing to provide daylighting for the vehicle bays and reduce the interior lighting load.

Gresham Smith has been involved in more than 100 separate projects at RIC for over two decades and continues to serve as the airport’s on-call architectural consultant. The story of this long-lasting relationship is one of planning, patience and pride, with the overarching goal of providing Richmond residents and visitors an airport that reflects the city’s elegance, timeless architecture and 21st century ambition.


Capital Region Airport Commission


Richmond, Virginia

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Wilson Rayfield, AIA, LEED AP
Wilson Rayfield, AIA, LEED AP
Executive Vice President, Aviation