The New Satellite Concourse 1 Planned For The O’Hare International Airport, Revealed By The City

Mayor Brandon Johnson on May 30th unveiled the design of Satellite Concourse 1, the first major component of the expansion and modernization of the O’Hare International Airport, known as the O’Hare 21 Terminal Area Plan.

A better experience for passengers, a new standard of excellence for O’Hare

The new concourse, which will serve both international and domestic passengers, is one of the largest components of O’Hare 21, a curb-to-gate transformation of O’Hare’s terminal complex into a modern, efficient global hub designed to create a more efficient and comfortable experience for travelers.

Architectural renderings for Satellite Concourse 1 released by the City May 30th showcase a unique design led by renowned Chicago architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) with Ross Barney Architects, Juan Gabriel Moreno Architects (JGMA), and Arup.

“We designed the new satellite concourse to create a frictionless experience for travelers, on par with the best airports in the world,”  said SOM Design Partner Scott Duncan. “The gate lounges feature column-free expanses for easy wayfinding, high ceilings to optimize views, and a daylighting strategy to help align the body’s natural rhythms — all to make the experience of air travel more pleasurable. We are excited for our team to lead the way on O’Hare 21 and to establish a new standard of excellence for O’Hare.”

City and state officials came together to help move on to the next phase of the project

“Chicago’s airports play a critical role in the country’s aviation system and our local economy, impacting more than 700,000 jobs across the region and contributing more than $70 billion in economic activity. Investments in our airports are truly investments in our communities, generating new career opportunities for the people and families of Chicago and creating generational wealth among local entrepreneurs,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “Moving on to the next phase of O’Hare expansion has required a full force of government approach, led by my administration, from our federal leaders and legislators to the team at the Chicago Department of Aviation, and I look forward to continuing this work with our airline partners as we build the O’Hare of tomorrow together.”

“With the airlines accepting the phasing plan from the City of Chicago, we can preserve O’Hare as a major asset for many decades to come,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said. “The Terminal Area Plan will provide new, spacious concourses with passenger amenities, and gates that can accommodate a variety of aircraft. I want to thank Mayor Brandon Johnson and Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee for their leadership in reaching this milestone, and for keeping the future of Chicago at the heart of their decisions. I will continue to work with the Illinois Congressional Delegation to support O’Hare in any way I can.”

Satellite 1 is the first major component of the much larger Terminal Area Plan

Satellite Concourse 1 adds 19 new gates and is designed to flexibly accommodate different sizes of aircraft bodies, increasing operational efficiency for carriers and reducing layover transfers for passengers in one of the nation’s busiest airports. Work on the project began in March 2023 with the construction of several temporary taxiways and a new grade-separated roadway, the reconfiguration of Taxiway B, and the construction of three new temporary gates off Concourse C, which opened this spring.

Satellite 1 is the first major component of the much larger Terminal Area Plan, which includes as its chief components two new satellite concourses, a new O’Hare Global Terminal replacing Terminal 2, and an underground tunnel connecting the facilities.

An agreement with O’Hare’s hub carriers announced by the Johnson administration earlier this month will prioritize design, construction, and delivery of the O’Hare Global Terminal to bring forward its benefits to the traveling public sooner. Design and engineering experts retained by the CDA and its diverse team of contractors are actively working to progress the design and review the timeline for the O’Hare Global Terminal and Satellite Concourse 2 to meet the terms of this agreement, and the City will share the results of that work over the next six to 12 months.

“From his first day in office, Mayor Johnson made clear to the CDA that we must be responsible stewards of all public funds, including those committed by our valued airline partners,” said CDA Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee. “I thank the airlines for their continued investment in the Chicago market, and for their ongoing collaboration as we work to minimize operational impacts throughout the complex construction activities that lie ahead as we further advance Satellite Concourse 1.”

Over 3,800 construction jobs to be created on this project

Satellite Concourse 1 and the infrastructure projects associated with the development are anticipated to create more than 3,800 construction jobs.
During his first year in office, Mayor Johnson has made remarkable progress advancing airport infrastructure projects, as well as diversifying contracts, and engaging local and minority-owned businesses.
A lot has been already accomplished, including:

  • Breaking ground on the $300 million ElevateT3 project, the first major investment in facilities at O’Hare Terminal 3 since the 1980s. The upgrades were supported by $90 million in grant funding from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, secured with the tremendous support of the Illinois Congressional delegation
  • The completion of the $400 million Midway Modernization Program, an eight-year investment in the passenger experience at Midway International Airport completed thanks to the Johnson administration’s commitment to the diverse local businesses central to the final phase of that capital plan: a $75 million upgrade to Midway’s concessions operations.
  • Ongoing investments at O’Hare Terminal 5, including a new, six-story parking garage which construction crews topped out this month. When it opens in October, the new structure will more than double the amount of available parking at the terminal, which serves both domestic and international passengers.
  • Since March, the O’Hare 21 capital program has a minority- and women-owned business participation rate of 38%. This is the result of Mayor Johnson’s ongoing work to diversify contracts, engage local and minority-owned businesses, and ensure that expansion plans for O’Hare include many opportunities for a wide range of residents and businesses to share in the city’s economic success.

The City selected AECOM Hunt Clayco Bowa as Construction Manager At-Risk for the concourse and related infrastructure in February.

Work begins this summer on a stormwater project that will support the future elimination of a detention basin west of the future satellite concourse to an expanded basin on the southeast end of the airfield. The current timeline calls for the completion of the Satellite Concourse 1 as an extension of Concourse C in 2028.

Modernization of the airport is not the only project of its kind in the city. August 2nd 2023, Shedd Aquarium unveiled its “Experience Evolution” $500 million plan for new galleries, learning spaces, and transformations to ensure the beloved Chicago institution will thrive for another century.
Also, the Thompson Center –  or, as it should now be known as, the Loop Googleplex — has a future without completely breaking loose from its past. Some major renovations are on the way before Google employees come to fill up the office spaces in 2026, but the feel of the building, as well as most of its original architectural traits will be retained.

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