By Paul Thompson
The final month of promotion before Kansas City’s billion-dollar single terminal airport vote began with a splash, on Thursday, October 5, when the Edgemoor construction team unveiled its first renderings of its ambitious vision for a new-age Kansas City International (KCI) terminal during a City Council business session.
According to the Edgemoor, the project encompasses six key design themes: convenience, amenities, efficiency, sustainability, technology and heritage.
The new images show an ambitious vision for the future of KCI – one highlight is a two-story, floor to ceiling indoor fountain that would feature a digital component with a variety of display options.
“There would be a fountain as sort of a central focal piece of the check-in hall,” said Peter Lefkovits with Skidmore Owings & Merrill design firm. “It would be a great hats-off to the city of fountains.”
Additionally, the Edgemoor plans include a covered parking facility attached to the terminal, different levels for curbside departure and arrival, additional shops and restaurants in a “piazza-like” centralized public space, an increase in phone charging stations and a single, twelve lane check-in area.
The piazza-like public space will support an expansion of dining and entertainment options, which could include live jazz performances. KCMO Aviation Director Pat Klein said that local vendors will be the first targeted to open up new restaurants in the space.
“We will bid out all of those contracts again, and we will push for joint ventures that have a local flavor to them,” Klein said.
KCMO City Manager Troy Schulte indicated during the October 5 business session that the new airport would save money on utility costs by being net-zero or net-positive in terms of energy efficiency. According to Klein, electricity at the airport currently carries an annual cost of roughly $12 million. The 750,000 square-foot updated terminal, scheduled to be completed by 2021, would also come with more than 1,000 additional parking spaces.
Edgemoor managing director Geoff Stricker said that the current set-up of KCI is unique among the country’s largest airports in that it doesn’t have separate areas for departures and arrivals.
“Kansas City, of the 50 largest cities in the country, is the only airport that has arrivals and departures mixed,” said Stricker. “Every other airport has the split between arrivals and departures, which is what we’ve proposed. Therefore by default, 50% of the traffic will now be on one level, and 50% will be on the other.”
The reveal, which occurred during the City Council’s 1:00 p.m. business session, also included the public unveiling of Edgemoor’s KCI construction website. There, visitors can view a slideshow of the renderings, learn about the Edgemoor construction team, sign up for the projects email newsletter and inquire about available job opportunities within the $1 billion construction project.
The renderings drew high praise from Council members who had been eager to see more details from the Edgemoor team. Sixth District Councilman Kevin McManus called the renderings “stunning,” and asked the Edgemoor team whether the airport would be truly unique.
“SOM does airports all over the world,” McManus said. “I haven’t been Madagascar, but if I go there, is it going to look like this? Is this unique?”
Derek Moore with SOM said that as with all airport designs, the KCI plans are built through a rigorous process.
“It’s a process of discovery and invention,” Moore said. “I believe that we will end up with something that you can relate to.”
Stricker added that the team was lucky to have had a “running” start in the form of Exhibit K, a City document put together in 2015 when the prospect of a new single terminal airport was first considered at City Hall.
“We had a great running start,” Stricker said of the process. “What can we do to embellish that and make it special?”
Fifth District Councilman Lee Barnes maintained a healthy skepticism during the Edgemoor presentation, reiterating his long-held belief that the details in Edgemoor’s proposal remained “pretty lacking.” Barnes pointed out that the Council felt compelled to draw up an ordinance ensuring that any airport deal will include a robust community benefit agreement – an action undertaken due to uncertainty surrounding the details of the proposal. Stricker, however, assured the City Council that Edgemoor will offer no push-back to any of the stipulations included in the ordinance.
“Every item that is in the ordinance is in the MOU,” Stricker said. “Every item that’s in the ordinance is fine by us, and we’re not pushing back on any of that.”
To view the airport designs or learn more about Edgemoor’s plans for the future of KCI, visit the project website at https://www.kci-edgemoor.com/.