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 landside facilities and passenger experience, including a major expansion and renovation of the airport’s terminal, multiple new and expanded parking structures, and a new two-level curbside roadway system.
The pinnacle of RIC’s master plan was a new arrivals and departures terminal building. The 160,000 square-foot brightly-lit terminal houses ticketing, baggage claim and concessions space. Built directly in front of and connected to the original terminal, the new two-level terminal building provides direct second level connectivity between ticketing and the concourses. Because the new building was situated between the active roadway and existing terminal phasing was critical to maintaining passenger access during construction. The existing ticketing and baggage claim facilities were converted to use for new inline baggage handling and screening systems. The new terminal has made travel easier and more memorable, with soaring 60-foot ceilings and offering homage to Jeffersonian architecture, with contextual use of red brick, a white colonnade and a symmetrical facade.
To support long-term growth, a new two-level elevated roadway system separated arriving and departing traffic more than doubling the airport’s curbside capacity. Significant modifications to the existing terminal access roadways, including a bridge, approach ramps and new roadway signage program with electronic messaging systems, will accommodate increasing traffic volumes.
Two symmetrical, four-level, 2,400-space parking structures and a two-level rental car garage were designed to accommodate the subsequent terminal expansion and elevated roadway. A signage program for the garages included all building identification, internal garage wayfinding, level designation and parking placement reminder cards featuring historical photographs and facts about the city of Richmond. Later, over 1,900 spaces were added to further expand the south garage. These subsequent improvements created room for the larger terminal curbside and provided new roadway access and entry plazas to the existing garages.
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.