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Studio Gang-led team wins design competition for $8.5B O’Hare expansion

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The dramatic Y-shaped building features a skylit roof clad in wood

Studio ORD

A team led by Chicago-based architect Jeanne Gang will design the new Global Terminal and Concourse for O’Hare International Airport, city officials announced on Wednesday. Known as Studio ORD, the winning joint venture was selected from five competing teams including some big-name talents such as Santiago Calatrava, Norman Foster, Curtis Fentress, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

Slated to replace the aging Terminal 2, the new complex will be the centerpiece of an $8.5 billion expansion of the nation’s busiest airport. At 2.2 million square feet, the Global Terminal will offer twice the space of the previous terminal and will include a spacious arrival hall connecting to more new gates, concessions, public lounges, and improved security checkpoints.

The Studio ORD design blends the terminal and concourse into a single Y-shaped structure reminiscent of the Chicago Municipal Device—a symbol found throughout the city, representing the confluence of the Chicago River’s three branches. As an added symbolic touch, a central oculus is topped by a six-pointed skylight referencing the geometry of the stars found on Chicago’s flag.

“As a native Chicagoan, I understand deeply the importance of O’Hare to our city’s identity, and I am honored that my hometown has provided my team the opportunity to realize a design that can demonstrate Chicago’s unique culture, traditions, and diversity to visitors and residents alike,” said Jeanne Gang in a statement.

The next step in the process will see city officials hammer out a final contract with the Studio ORD team. The selection committee will also pick a “runner up” from the four other competing teams to design a pair of satellite concourses west of Terminal 1. That decision is expected in the coming months, according to officials.

If all goes to plan, work on the O’Hare Global Terminal is expected to begin in 2023 and wrap up in 2028. In addition to Studio Gang, the winning team also includes STL Architects, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, Corgan Associates, and Milhouse Engineering and Construction.