New Terminal at Minot Int'l Dramatically Increases Capacity & Prepares Community for Future

Author: 
Robert Nordstrom
Published in: 
May-June
2016

For many years, the only escalator in Minot, ND, was at Woolworth's, which also had a lunch counter. Today, there's a new escalator in town-inside the airport's spanking new terminal, and Minot International (MOT) holds its own claim to fame as the largest airport terminal in North Dakota.

After approximately five years of planning, design and construction, MOT's new facility leaped into operation on February 29 (Leap Day, in case you missed the shameless pun). At 121,000 square feet, the new terminal is nearly four times the size of the airport's old facility and is designed to serve the community's needs well into the future. 

FACTS&FIGURES
Project: New Terminal  
Related Projects: New Snow Removal Building; Customer Parking Lots; Apron & Taxiway
Location: Minot (ND) Int'l Airport
Approx. Cost: $84 million
Funding: FAA (42%); state (26%); 
city (32%)
Terminal Building: 121,000 sq. ft. 
Engineering Consultant/Program Manager: KLJ
Architect of Record: 
Coover-Clark & Assoc.
Airport/New Terminal Consultant: Chrysalis Aviation Solutions
General Contractors: Graham Construction (terminal); Strata Corp. 
(apron & taxiway electrical); Wagner Construction (taxiway)
IT & Security Design: Ross & Baruzzini
Mechanical Engineering: BCER
Electrical: Main Electric; Moorhead Electric
Local Area Network/Wi-Fi: 
Parsons Electric; ACG
Systems Installation: MEI Technologies; Parsons Electric
Electronic Video Information Display System: Infax
Audio Paging: IDS; IED
Access Control System/Video Surveillance System: Genetec
Structural Steel: Ted Mannstedt Steel
Jet Bridges: JBT
Baggage Handling: Logan Teleflex
Furniture: Zoeftig
Terrazzo Flooring: WTG
Crowd Control Equipment: Visiontron
Of Note: Terminal & related projects were fast-tracked to meet travel demands associated with regional oil boom

MOT's previous passenger terminal was designed to handle roughly 100,000 enplanements per year. From 1989 to 2009, the facility averaged 76,000 annual enplanements; but in 2011, it broke 150,000 enplanements, due to the surge in local oil extraction, explains former Airport Director Andrew Solsvig.  In 2012, the facility served 220,000 enplanements-more than double its intended capacity.

"We had people parking in ditches or on grass, wherever they could find a spot," recalls Solsvig. "Our holdrooms, at times, would reach capacity and we would have to halt Security operations until passengers boarded. Sometimes, two flights would board simultaneously out of one gate: One flight would use the jet bridge and the other would leave out of the same door, descend onto the ramp and board a regional jet. We had to do something, because the oil boom had changed everything." 

If push comes to shove, the new terminal can handle up to 500,000 enplanements per year, he notes. Increasing the airport's passenger capacity required nearly $84 million of construction-and not just a new terminal. 

Moving Quickly
In 2011, MOT asked its longtime engineering consultant, KLJ, to evaluate the airport's current terminal facilities. It didn't take the team long to determine that there was no simple way to expand the existing terminal, recalls KLJ Program Manager Mike Mahoney.

With passenger volume still climbing from the oil boom, time was of the essence. "Everyone agreed that instead of doing a typical master plan study, where everybody scratches their head for 18 months then produces a 300-page document that few people read other than the summary, we would address issues separately in a white paper," recalls Mahoney. The game plan allowed stakeholders to review and comment on plans, and helped KLJ and the airport secure decisions from the city, FAA and North Dakota Aeronautics Commission in a timely fashion, he explains. 

Minot City Council approved the alternate approach in early January 2012, and a terminal area study was completed by the end of April. KLJ recommended constructing a new terminal directly east of the existing terminal building and identified associated work that would also need to be accomplished. The list included demolishing an existing snow removal building and constructing a new one, reconstructing a taxiway, building a new apron for the new terminal and adding new parking lots.

Despite the extent of the projects, the new terminal opened just four years and one month after the city gave the go-ahead to assess the old facility, Mahoney emphasizes. "By executing on the frontend, we were able to take advantage of funding as soon as it became available," he explains. "I don't think you'll find another new terminal project executed anywhere near that quickly."

Before construction could begin on the new terminal, crews had to demolish the airport's existing snow removal equipment facility. They erected a new equipment building southeast of the remote parking lot, which needed to remain in operation because much of MOT's other parking options would be unavailable during terminal construction. Two new surface lots eventually increased parking capacity from 450 vehicles to 1,450.

The new terminal plan also required MOT to move its fire-training site off airport grounds, reroute an access road and construct a new taxiway and apron. All told, the airport entered into seven construction projects totaling approximately $84 million.

"Scheduling was a challenge," Mahoney reflects. "We constantly had to reassess, reprioritize and reschedule the various projects. Because of funding delays, the parking lot access road, the apron and the terminal building were all being constructed at the same time, which required a lot of coordination and cooperation among the contractors."

Celebrating the Region 
The overarching goal for architect of record Coover-Clark and Associates was to create a memorable terminal building that reflects the region. "We wanted travelers to know where they were when they entered the terminal-that they were in North Dakota and, more specifically, Minot," says Edward Balkin, the firm's design director. 

To that end, architects exposed the terminal's support beams as a tribute to the Gassman Coulee railroad trestle, a local landmark that highlights the importance of commerce and trade within the region. Still in operation today, the vital railroad bridge facilitated Minot's overnight growth in the late 1800s.

General contractor Graham Construction installed nearly 2 million pounds of structural rolled-steel beams to achieve the desired look inside the terminal (see photo on Page 64). Rick Skumavc, Graham's project manager, describes the effect as very impressive. "Every column and beam matched up, and all the anchor bolts were spot on the first time," he reports. 

The trestle-theme design extends onto the terrazzo floor, which also pays homage to the region's rolling agricultural landscape. Based on aerial photographs taken by Balkin, designers used 12 colors of terrazzo interspersed with ribbons of eight varieties of native granite to depict the region's undulating terrain.

To help handle Minot's severe seasonal temperature swings, engineers specified extensive amounts of low-emissivity glass, which reflects infrared energy from the sun to minimize heat loss and gain. The building also features in-floor heating to help maintain consistent temperatures throughout the 25,000-square-foot main lobby. 

A privately funded children's play area adds to the family-friendly feel designers worked to incorporate throughout the terminal. The 600-square-foot area is named MOT Power Play, referencing the strength and power Minot draws from oil, freight and the local U.S. Air Force base. Seven glass-cube art kiosks placed throughout the terminal showcase regional jewelry, pottery and air museum artifacts.

"There is great clarity to the building," Balkin summarizes. "It is well-organized, understandable. At the center core of the building, visitors and meeters and greeters can stand in the non-secure area and see through a large glass wall onto the airfield outside the holdrooms in the secure area."

Ross & Baruzzini designed and oversaw installation of communications and information technology (IT) infrastructure for the new terminal. Major elements included copper and fiber optic cabling, local area network and Wi-Fi network systems, access control and video surveillance systems, an electronic video information display system with integrated audiovisual paging, a conference room audiovisual system and master antennae television system.    

Mark Adams, senior systems project manager for Ross & Baruzzini, describes the combined access control and video security system installed by subcontractor Parsons as one of the best he has seen at an airport.  

Adams praises the team that contributed to the IT portion of the terminal project: "To my mind, what set this project apart...was the mix of the latest and greatest user-intuitive technologies, the selection of quality airport systems integrators and providers, and the work ethic of the workforce that participated in the project."

Grateful Community
With the new terminal and other projects complete, MOT officials believe that the airport is well-prepared to meet air traffic demands for the next 20 years. Gone are the days when they had to stop passengers at security checkpoints because the holdrooms were full. And gone are the times when two aircraft had to share one gate simultaneously.

MOT now boasts six new gates, with jet bridges for four gates. Although the airport currently doesn't need all six, officials designed for future growth, Solsvig explains.

Inside the terminal, designers from Coover-Clark and Associates also focused on the future. "As air travel progresses...passengers' needs become more customized, connected and unique," reflects design architect and company president Carol Coover-Clark. "We are always looking for new ways to bring these needs to life and express the local community while reinventing the flexible travel experience for the future."  

With oil prices falling, travel at MOT has slowed. As of January 2016, enplanements are down 25% over last year. Even so, passenger boardings are still up 136% compared to 2010 informs Solsvig. 

Excitement is also still running high about the new facilities. When the new terminal opened in February, nearly 6,000 people celebrated the occasion. Some drove from as far as Winnipeg, Canada. "This is an extraordinary building and a huge stepping stone for the community," Balkin reflects enthusiastically. "People don't feel entitled here; they just feel grateful." 

Subcategory: 
Terminals

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