Foster + Partners has won a competition to design a master plan for the King Salman International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. When completed, the 14,000-acre scheme is expected to be one of the world’s largest airports.
Fosters’ plan calls for six parallel runways accompanied by 129 million square feet of airport support facilities, residential and recreational facilities, and retail outlets. Up to 120 million travelers will be accommodated in the airport by 2030, increasing to 185 million travelers and 3.5 million tons of cargo by 2050; all served by a combination of newly built structures and the retention of the airport's already-existing terminals.
Foster + Partners describes the airport as an “aerotropolis” which prioritizes a “seamless customer journey, world-class efficient operations, and innovation,” with a design that will also take into account “Riyadh’s identity and the Saudi culture.” The team also intends for the airport to be powered by renewable energy and to achieve LEED Platinum certification.
“Looking forward to the future, the new King Salman International Airport reimagines the traditional terminal as a single concourse loop, served by multiple entrances,” Luke Fox, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners, explained. “The terminal is very much of its place and connects passengers to the sensory experiences of the city, with natural elements, tempered light and state-of-the-art facilities.”
News of the commission comes one year after Norman Foster defended his firm’s involvement in airport projects despite criticism from climate groups. The dispute was ignited at the end of 2020 when Foster + Partners withdrew from the Architects Declare commitmentafter the initiative called for firms not committed to ending “business as usual” projects to leave the group.
The Riyadh airport is also one of several recent Foster + Partners commissions shared in our editorial. Last week, the firm gained permit approval for a cross-laminated timber scheme in London, while earlier in November, construction began on their ‘floating’ extension to the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum in Spain. Last month, Foster + Partners completed the EU’s tallest building in Warsaw, Poland, while also completing the new 425 Park Avenue tower in Manhattan.
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