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Richmond International Airport

A long-standing relationship culminates with an elegant expression of a city’s heritage

There is a striking and elegant new front façade that makes being dropped off a pleasure. -Edwin Slipek, Jr., Richmond’s Style Weekly

A metropolitan airport is much more than just a transportation venue—it is often an air traveler’s first and last impression of the city. Architecturally, it can symbolize the region’s character and history. Economically, it can influence business relocation and convention planning, making it a potential major source of revenue for the area.

In the early 1990s, Richmond International Airport (RIC) was having difficulty filling these roles. Its facilities were outdated, and gate space was completely leased out, leaving no room to attract low-cost carriers. Consequently, its fares were among the highest in the nation, causing it to lose about one million travelers annually to other airports in the region. With the aviation industry experiencing moderate growth, Richmond was well positioned to benefit by upgrading and expanding their facilities.

In 1994, the Capital Region Airport Commission engaged GS&P to provide long-range programming and development plans for the airport campus. Since that time, GS&P architecture and design teams have executed more than a dozen significant projects to help improve upon nearly every aspect of the airport. This has included significant concourse expansions and renovations, multiple new and expanded parking structures, a new bi-level curbside roadway system, comprehensive campus-wide signage and wayfinding, and a new remote central utilities plant.

The work at RIC came to its highly anticipated pinnacle in July 2007 when the new terminal building was dedicated. This cornerstone of the airport’s expansion and renovation program provides two levels and 160,000 square feet of ticketing, baggage claim and concessions space. Floors of magnificent terrazzo form beautiful geometric patterns in well-balanced shades of blue, gray and mauve.

As a tribute to Jeffersonian architecture, the terminal boasts soaring 60-foot ceilings and striking design elements such as a strong central core delineated with a white colonnade complimented by symmetrical wings. The contextual use of red brick and other materials gives way to a steel and glass canopy which transitions to large expanses of glass culminated by a gently vaulted roof.

The new terminal has not only made travel easier but also more memorable with architectural and interior design elements that are as representative of Virginia as they are of air travel. Construction of the terminal took 26 months to complete, an impressive feat considering that the new terminal was built immediately in front of the existing terminal without adversely impacting the ongoing operations of the airport or airlines.

Fourteen years after the Capital Region Airport Commission and GS&P started planning, the new terminal at Richmond International Airport now supports nine airlines with plenty of room for additional carriers. The airport currently boasts some of the lowest airfares in the nation, and passenger traffic is steadily increasing. Maybe of most significance, the new terminal adeptly fills its role by welcoming air travelers, introducing them to Richmond as an historic city of elegance, timeless architecture and 21st century ambition.


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Project Info

  • Client: Richmond International Airport
  • Location: Richmond, VA, USA
  • Market: Aviation
  • Services: Architecture, Engineering, Interior Design, Environmental Graphics and Wayfinding
  • Team:
    • Jacob P. Wohlgemuth, AIA Principal-in-Charge
    • David L. King, AIA, NCARB Principal-in-Charge
    • Wilson P. Rayfield Jr., AIA, NCARB, LEED AP Project Designer
    • Todd P. Martin, AIA Project Architect
    • Alan J. Pramuk, P.E., CM Structural Engineer
    • Julia Bradley Rayfield, CID, IIDA Interior Designer
    • Grant J. Clifford, RIBA, LEED AP Project Manager
    • Kevin W. Hopkins, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP Project Professional
  • Awards:

    American Institute of Architects, Richmond Chapter, 2000 Merit Award American Institute of Architects, Richmond Chapter, 2003 Honor Award National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association, 2004 Honor Award 

Greater Richmond Association for Commercial Real Estate, 2008 Best Commercial Project American Institute of Architects, Tampa Bay Chapter, 

2008 Merit Award

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