Fentress Architects Unveils Winning Student Designs for Airport of the Future

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Top design features hypersonic jets, vertical takeoff, and public transportation elements

Grand Prize Winner LDN Delta Airport

My concept goes beyond today’s airport design to propose a pioneering ecological solution for the future.

After reviewing 200 innovative student submissions from around the world, Fentress Architects is excited to announce the winning designs for the 2011 Fentress Global Challenge, an international competition launched last fall for architecture and engineering students to present their visions for the Airport of the Future. Expert jury members narrowed the submittals to 16 finalists, and then to the top three with two honorable mentions. Designs were evaluated on Creative Approach, Response to Site, Sustainability and Functionality.

Concept: LDN Delta Airport
Student: Oliver Andrew
University: London South Bank University, London

Concept: The Airport of the Future
Student: Martin Sztyk
University: University College London, London

Concept: Pocket Airports
Student: Alexander Nevarez
University: Art Center College of Design, United States

Honorable Mention
Concept: Aero-Loop        
Student: Thor Yi Chun
University: University of Science of Malaysia

Honorable Mention
Concept: New Arcticity
Student: Daniel Kang
University: National Taiwan University of Science

FENTRESS GLOBAL CHALLENGE JURY                                                                                        
G. Hardy Acree, Airport Director, Sacramento International Airport                                            

Marvin Malecha, FAIA, Dean of the College of Design, North Carolina State University                                

Helen Norman, Editor, Passenger Terminal World                                                                                

Tibbie Dunbar, Executive Director, Architecture + Design Museum                                                                

James P. Cramer, Hon AIA, Hon IIDA, Cofounder & Chairman, Design Futures Council                                

Curtis Fentress, FAIA, RIBA, Principal-in-Charge of Design, Fentress Architects

DESCRIPTION: The LDN Delta Airport is designed as prefabricated, mass-produced islands situated in the Thames Estuary, upstream from London. The airport would ease the overcrowding of the surrounding airports as there are no cars, runways, nor check-in desks, but is served solely via public transportation. Flight information is connected through passengers’ cell phones, providing the departure time and assigned gate. The airport supports vertical takeoff with hypersonic jets capable of flying at the edge of space, lifting off from purpose-built landing pads and uses the tidal currents to run on total sustainable power.


“This airport proposed two vital elements: unmanned aerial vehicle elements, since future aircraft will rely heavily on technology to control airline cost, and vertical takeoff and landing capability, which reduce the airport landmass footprint.” — Acree

“LDN Delta Airport takes into consideration new technologies with the use of GPS and smart phone technology. It connects to land through public transport, good for inter-modality and the environment, as less people are using their cars.” — Norman

“The connection to a meditation landscape to ease the tensions of travelers is exactly what is needed. Also, flotation devices solve a combination of environmental and urban design concerns.” — Malecha

“The LDN Delta Airport demonstrates innovative and ecological solutions all combined with human scale and user delight in an urban setting.” — Cramer

“This student’s approach captured the challenging elements necessary for a successful airport in the future, including multimodal transportation, conscientious design, and social considerations.” — Fentress

A Word with Fentress Global Challenge Grand-Prize Winner Oliver Andrew

"Taking part in this competition has been fantastic from the moment I read the brief to the moment I put pencil to paper. I spent many long nights sketching and thinking the concept through, in order to create something innovative and revolutionary in airport design. My concept goes beyond today’s airport design to propose a pioneering ecological solution for the future," said Andrew. “A competition at this level is a real honor. I look forward to working with everyone at Fentress Architects."

2nd PLACE: The Airport of the Future     

DESCRIPTION: In the Airport of the Future, algae farms produce biofuel for aircrafts and the airport facility, which can be processed by neighboring oil refineries.    


“The airport of the future shows how a self-sustaining concept can become ubiquitous with broad implications for seaside developments.” — Cramer

“This is a strong scheme with vital emotional and intellectual connections to the land. The drawings present an elegant structure that has the ability to grow and change; open spaces complement architecture that seems to sit easily on its landscape.”— Malecha

"I was thrilled to have received 2nd place, let alone being shortlisted for this competition."—Second Place Winner Martin Sztyk

3RD PLACE: Pocket Airports

DESCRIPTION: Pocket airports created a new aircraft, integrating quiet electric propulsion, supersonic speeds, and vertical takeoff/landing capability.


“The airport uses existing infrastructure within a city for the airport--a good approach where cities have a lot of derelict buildings, as it encourages regeneration.” — Norman

“This is a strong vision of what aviation could look like 150 years from now. By utilizing existing structures, this student improves passenger experience, allows faster travel time, and frees up valuable land to be used for other purposes.” — Fentress

“To be considered among the future up and coming designers and architects, gives me a great sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment.” — Third Place Winner Alexander Nevarez

Oliver will be awarded the top prize valued at $10,000, including $3,000 cash and a paid internship at Fentress Architects this summer. The runner-up and third place winner will receive cash awards of $1,000 and $500 respectively. The top 16 finalist designs will also gain international exposure in the traveling exhibition Now Boarding: Fentress Airports + The Architecture of Flight, which provides a multi-media journey through the past, present and future of airport design. The exhibit debuts on July 15, 2012 at the Denver Art Museum. Visit http://www.fentressarchitects.com/aof for more about the competition and http://www.nowboarding.org/ for information about the Now Boarding museum exhibition.

Fentress Architects is a global design firm that passionately pursues the creation of sustainable and iconic architecture. Together with their clients, Fentress creates inspired design to improve the human environment. Founded by Curtis Fentress in 1980, the firm has designed US$26 billion of architectural projects worldwide, visited by over 300 million people each year. Fentress is a dynamic learning organization, driven to grow its ability to design, innovate and exceed client expectations. The firm has been honored with over 385 distinctions for design excellence and innovation, and in 2010, Curtis Fentress was recognized by the American Institute of Architects with the most prestigious award for public architecture, the Thomas Jefferson Award. Fentress has studios in Denver, Colorado; Los Angeles, California; San Jose, California; Washington, D.C.; and London, U.K. http://www.fentressarchitects.com

Please contact Angela Potrykus at 303.282.6192 or Potrykus(at)fentressarchitects(dot)com for additional images, jury comments or other information.

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Fentress Architects
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