Seamlessly moving millions of people – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – through a giant space is a massive task. Excelling at this, while working to double that number and remain fully operational? This was the challenge facing Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport of Santiago de Chile.
The airport had one clear vision: a complete overhaul with a new state-of-the-art international terminal. This - one of the largest construction projects in Chile's history - was to be an emblem of the nation. And for the projected 38 million passengers a year passing through it, it needed to provide an experience that surpassed mere function to give an exceptional first and last impression of the country.
As one of the top 10 Latin American airports, and with 98% of Chile's ever-increasing international traffic using it, a new international terminal was of great necessity. Seeking designers with a worldwide reputation and local recognition, Arcadis was sub-contracted by ADP Ingénierie as the structural and seismic engineer, at the very start of the project.
Leading the overall design, ADP Ingénierie, working with Arcadis, was appointed by VINCI Construction Grands Projects to design the airside infrastructure package, the architectural and special airport systems design studies for both terminals, as well as for the covered carpark buildings. This project was the first to be entirely performed in BIM.
With a US$990 million investment from the Chilean Ministry of Public Works (MOP) - the largest of its kind in 20 years – the spotlight was sharply focused on how a scheme of this magnitude would deliver on its ambition. Doubling the airport's capacity (it was originally designed for 16 million passengers) involved converting and expanding the original structure into a considerably larger 248,346m², two- terminal airport. All while handling existing traffic.
Delivering rigorously to brief, the collaboration resulted in a fully renovated domestic terminal, with a new building dedicated to international and regional flights, both equipped with state-of-the-art technology to streamline passenger waiting times.
The success of this project is unmissable in the airport's dramatic transformation. Beyond the critical increase in capacity for Santiago, the passenger experience has been redefined. The new 67 gate terminal radically reduces waiting times, thanks to the installation of 96 automatic check-in kiosks, 64 baggage claim counters, 40% more immigration counters and a new baggage handling system.
With time now minimized on functional aspects, travelers can turn their attention to the new shopping areas, restaurants, 250-seat open theatre, green spaces, and event area. Details such as a breastfeeding room have also been given consideration. In addition, there are 6,000+ parking spaces, a bus station, new VIP lounges and spaces for exhibiting Chilean art.
Environmental factors are equally important - 10,336 traditional lights have been switched to LEDs; six new electric buses introduced; seven hectares of land reforested in the airport grounds and 600+ trees donated to Pudahuel´s city hall, where the airport is located. All this features alongside a photovoltaic plant with a capacity of 826 KW. The goal? To reduce the airport's carbon footprint by 40% by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. As a result, this 21st century incarnation of Santiago International Airport is proudly one of the first in South America to reach Level 2 of the ACA (Airports Council International).