Myrtle Beach Int'l Invests in General Aviation Segment

Carroll McCormick
Published in: 

With active general aviation traffic, Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) could no longer route such passengers through a former Air Force base operations built in 1956. "The old terminal was at capacity for GA aircraft and was not consistent with the type of travelers we were seeing," explains Lauren Morris, marketing director, MYR, Horry County Department of Airports. "We wanted something modern."


Project: General Aviation Terminal

Location: Myrtle Beach (SC) Int'l Airport

Size: 11,000 sq. ft.

Cost: $4.5 million

Funding: State & County Grants

Timeline: Aug. 2007- Oct. 2009

Lead Architect: Gresham, Smith and Partners

Architect of Record: Pegram Associates

Mechanical, Plumbing & Fire Protection: McKnight Smith Ward Griffin Engineers

Prime Construction Contractor: M.B. Kahn Construction Mgt. Div.

Structural Engineers: Kyzer & Timmerman Associates

Electrical Engineers: Haas and Kennedy Engineers

Fixed Base Operator: Horry County Dept. of Airports

Fuel Supplier: Eastern Aviation Fuel

Benefits: Modern design, gateway statement

Key Elements: Larger lounge, business center, multi-purpose space, snack bar & conference room

And that's just what the airport got. "The curved roof reflects the sun and beach of Myrtle Beach, and the roof-high glass curtain walls on three sides of the passenger lounge give a dramatic view of the airside," describes Morris.

The new $4.5 million building was recognized in April, when the Southeast chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives named it Commercial Airport Project of the Year in the architectural category of its 2011 Corporate Award of Excellence program.

Construction of the new terminal was funded by several grants: $1 million from the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission; $2 million from the South Carolina legislature; $800,000 from the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority; and $700,000 from Horry County.

Design Matters

The single-story terminal, served by the airport's 9,503-long runway and a 750,000-square-foot GA apron, can accommodate aircraft up to an Airbus A-320. The passenger lounge is sized to handle 20 to 30 - just the kind of crowd that arrives on some larger private jets. In 2010, the new facility managed approximately 21,430 general aviation operations and an estimated 45,000 passengers and pilots.

The 11,000-square-foot facility, conceived by a design team lead by Gresham, Smith and Partners (GS&P), includes training and multi-purpose rooms, a business center, conference room and private room for interviews. "The new terminal was designed to provide the highest-quality amenities possible," notes GS&P partner and architect Wilson Rayfield.

Other amenities include new audiovisual equipment and storage space for caterers. The line area is also bigger, and MYR has added self-service fuel tanks and completed the construction of 10 T-hangars since the terminal project was completed in October 2009.

GS&P kicked off the project with a terminal design charette for stakeholders in summer 2007. The two-day meeting was an efficient and effective way to identify goals for the project and to develop the image the airport wanted, explains Rayfield.

GS&P then developed the terminal program, architectural image and floor plan, and executed the schematic design drawings, renderings and graphics. Pegram Associates assembled the bid document and worked with the contractor, M.B. Kahn Construction Management Division, to realize the terminal.

"We divided the bid packages into smaller pieces to increase the ability for local participation, recalls Rick Ott, senior vice president, M.B. Kahn. "That helped us to bring in the bids within budget."

Tight Site

The new terminal's location - mere feet from the old site and squarely between it and the apron - proved to be the most challenging aspect of the groundwork. The two terminals were so close together that the groundside canopy of the new terminal could only be added once the old terminal was torn down. Construction of the new parking lot had to wait, too, as it was eventually built on the site of the old terminal.

"We had to work with the airport to keep the old building running while we built the new one," recalls David Deitz, project architect with Pegram. "This included having to build barricades, a temporary parking lot and keeping the old utilities running. It was very tricky getting people in and out, but the passengers were great. The owners had several golf carts to help passengers so they wouldn't have to walk so far."

Security was also a concern. "The barricades were called temporary, but there was nothing temporary about them," Deitz recalls.

Grander Objectives

The new terminal pays homage to the site's military heritage while ushering in future growth. "We kept some of the memorabilia, and we named each of the training rooms after the squadrons that were here. We have kept some of its history," Morris explains.

Looking forward, MYR sees the new terminal as a gateway to the city of Myrtle Beach, the Grand Strand (a 60-mile stretch of beaches along the South Carolina coast) and the state of South Carolina.

The new terminal is a key element of the major transformation MYR has been working on in recent years. In addition to $130 million of capital improvements that are underway, the airport has been spending between $15 million and $30 million a year on other improvements. Construction will also soon begin on the Horry County International Technology and Aeronautics Park (MBiTAP), an airport development designed to attract aeronautics- and technology-related companies.

"We want the GA terminal to be the anchor to the MBiTAP," Morris says. "Ours is the only airport on the East Coast with a lot of available space - some 350 acres - for aeronautical use. Other aviation parks do exist, but they are full. We want to rehabilitate the old taxiways and promote direct access to the park."

General Aviation

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