Charleston panel OKs dome design for $150 million airport makeover
Committee votes unanimously for addition to atrium
BY WARREN L. WISE
Now dimly lit and less than radiant, the main lobby at Charleston International Airport will be topped with a large dome that will capture natural sunlight as part of a $150 million makeover of the passenger terminal.
A Charleston County Aviation Authority committee voted unanimously Tuesday to place a dome of about 37 feet in diameter over the atrium.
The new element will brighten the lobby, where greeters will meet incoming passengers at either a statue, a fountain or a gazebo in the public-access area.
“That will give us a ‘wow’ factor when you walk into the airport,” said Aviation Authority Chairman Chip Limehouse.
A glass wall just beyond the dome will separate passengers who have advanced through security from people waiting to meet arriving visitors.
Limehouse and other board members did not like the glass wall or several proposed roof adornments on the original airport layout as it was unveiled in March by Fentress Architects, the firm selected to design the changes for the 27-year-old terminal.
Limehouse was concerned that the glass wall would divide the focal point of the airport.
The firm tweaked the renderings and returned with revisions Tuesday.
“It will have a unique feeling and flavor to reflect Charleston,” said Curtis Fentress, president of Denver-based Fentress Architects.
The ceiling design and glass wall were the last obstacles before moving forward with the terminal building makeover.
Other changes airport users will see over the next three or so years include six new gates added to the existing 10, consolidated security checkpoints near Concourse A, a third baggage carousel and a new car-rental pavilion.
More light will stream into the building as well.
In addition to the main dome, skylights will be added on both concourses, and the entire front of the building will change, with glass walls replacing brick facade.
Work is scheduled to begin this year unless the contested construction contract delays progress.
The second-place bidder, a team led by Atlanta-based Holder Construction Co. with local partners, last week protested the board’s decision in March to award the contract to a team led by Dallas-based Austin Commercial LP.
The Holder team claims Aviation Authority board member Joey Jefferson might have influenced the board’s decision since his firm, Palmetto Civil Group of North Charleston, is tied to Austin’s local partner, Hitt Contracting Co.
Jefferson resigned from the terminal redevelopment committee in December and recused himself the day the contract was awarded.
He remains a member of the Aviation Authority’s full board.
Limehouse, also a Republican state House representative, said Tuesday he has not set a date to hear the protest, but it is not slowing down the board’s progress on expansion and renovation of the terminal.
“We are fast-tracking the design,” he said.
The panel’s recommendations on Tuesday will go to the full airport board April 19.