Inside San Francisco Airport’s new Terminal 1

San Francisco International Airport has revealed the first images of its Terminal 1 renovation project, which is to be completed by 2022. As construction works begin at the Californian hub, Adele Berti explores how the terminal will look in four years’ time


an Francisco International Airport (SFO) recently started renovation works at its Terminal 1, Boarding Area B, as part of a 500,000ft2 project that is expected to be completed in four phases between 2019 and 2022.

The hub is the largest in North California and the second-busiest in California after Los Angeles International Airport, hosting nearly 5 million passengers every month.

Under the $2.4bn construction project, which will be the largest ever undertaken by the airport, SFO’s Boarding Area B will feature a total of 25 gates, including seven ‘swing’ gates accommodating international arrivals by providing direct access to the US Customs & Border Protection Federal Inspection Area. The terminal will also have a new centralised security checkpoint, a new state-of-the-art consolidated baggage handling system, dining and retail concessions, and post-security connecting walkways.

A joint venture between international architecture practice Woods Bagot and HKS Architects is responsible for redesigning the space and promoting its commitment to passenger journey excellence.

Woods Bagot global transport leader James Berry said: “I hope that Bay Area residents and visitors alike will be excited by the huge changes that are on their way – when complete, SFO will rank among the very best airports in the world.”

Here’s how the new Terminal 1 will look upon completion of the redevelopment works.

Image courtesy of Pius Lee /

The rebirth of SFO’s Terminal 1

First built in the 1960s, SFO’s Terminal 1 has struggled in recent times to manage the increasing volume of passengers using it each year.

For this reason, one of the crucial topics discussed during the programming phase and in a concessions study was that 100% of passengers must pass through 100% of the concessions.

Once complete, the terminal expects to meet and even exceed the standards of Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 Boarding Area E, as well as receive an environmental LEED Gold certification.

Image courtesy of Woods Bagot 

A rise to the top 

The airport recently celebrated the ‘topping out’ of Terminal 1, which commemorates the placement of the highest steel beam in the structure.

Next in the scheduled works is the opening of nine gates in Boarding Area B, as well as the opening of the Consolidated Security Checkpoint. Works are expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2022, when all gates will be open and Terminal 1 will become fully operational.

Images courtesy of Woods Bagot 

An area surrounded by nature

According to architects at Woods Bagot, the concept for the design of the terminal is ‘Bay Area Naturalism’, which celebrates the environment of Northern California.

This concept materialises through a series of curated spaces that encourage either speed and efficiency or quietude and relaxation, depending on their function.

Wood, stone and other natural materials will be used to build the new terminal, which will also include a series of character areas, from cosmopolitan marketplaces to park areas designed to encourage outdoor play.

Image courtesy of Woods Bagot 

A special focus on customer hospitality 

The passenger experience will be crucial for both the joint venture and the airport itself. This will translate into a space for restaurants, retail and integrated technology that will aim to facilitate the passenger journey.

Carsten Voecker, director of Woods Bagot’s San Francisco studio, said: “The new terminal has been designed with passengers’ comfort and enjoyment in mind, with experts from Woods Bagot’s retail, transport and hospitality teams working together with SFO’s stakeholders to create the ideal airport terminal that will bring back the romance and excitement of air travel.”

Images courtesy of Woods Bagot


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