O'Hare Global Terminal

Chicago, IL

In Design

City of Chicago

Civic, Infrastructure

2.2 million sf

Targeting LEED Gold equivalent


The O’Hare Global Terminal is designed to celebrate Chicago’s history as a city shaped by lines of movement and extends that legacy for the 21st century. Like the confluence of the branching Chicago River, the design’s three volumes converge in a central hub that establishes a vibrant new neighborhood in the heart of O’Hare’s campus.

Smoothly bending to increase efficiency, wayfinding, and connectivity, the tripartite design merges terminal and concourse into a single building that is uniquely evocative of the city of Chicago. At the branches’ confluence, a dramatic Oculus welcomes visitors under a six-pointed glass skylight whose geometry references the Chicago flag.

Surrounding the Oculus is a rhythmic, pleated roof of long-span steel trusses. Clad in wood and emphasizing the building’s curving form, the pleats are spaced and oriented to maximize natural daylight and energy efficiency. From inside, their directionality gently guides passengers through the space. When seen from above, the building’s form greets passengers with an easily recognizable, distinctly Chicago icon: the city’s “Y symbol,” or Municipal Device, that represents the branching Chicago River.

“The new Global Terminal is a critical project to unlock O’Hare’s potential as a leader in aviation and Chicago’s future success as a contemporary, truly global city. As a Chicagoan, I understand deeply the importance of O’Hare to our city’s identity, and I am honored that my hometown has provided my team the opportunity to realize a design that can demonstrate Chicago’s unique culture, traditions, and diversity to visitors and residents alike.”

—Jeanne Gang

The roof is supported by Y-shaped columns spaced over 100 feet apart that distribute the structural load, maximizing open circulation and ensuring flexibility to accommodate change over the terminal’s lifespan.

A light-filled Mezzanine above the concourse houses ticketing and security for departing passengers. Culminating in a dramatic Overlook, the Mezzanine offers expansive views of the airfield beyond and of the neighborhood and gates below.

Beneath the Oculus, a vibrant new neighborhood unfolds around the expansive Central Green. With lush planters, trees, and comfortable street furniture, this is a flexible space that can support pop-up events, music, and informal gathering. The greenery extends through the terminal’s three branches, framing boulevards of restaurants, shops, and retail that together evoke a lively Chicago neighborhood street.

Architecture, Engineering, and Consultant Team

Solmon Cordwell Buenz (SCB)
, executive architect

Corgan, aviation architect

, associate architect

Milhouse Engineering and Construction
, lead engineer

Magnusson Klemencic Associates, structural engineer

Garza Karhoff Engineering, structural engineer

Kimley-Horn and Associates, civil engineer

Infrastructure Engineering, civil engineer

Syska Hennessy Group, MEP/FP engineer; conveyance

OLIN, landscape architect

Site Design Group, landscape architect

dbHMS, sustainability; lighting consultant

Transsolar KlimaEngineering, sustainability consultant

Shen Milsom & Wilke, acoustics consultant

Space Haus, art integration/lighting consultant

Morlights, lighting consultant

Cardosi Kiper Design Group, architectural graphics & wayfinding consultant

Front Inc., enclosure consultant

Aero Systems Engineering, airfield planning consultant

BNP Associates, Inc., baggage handling systems consultant

Cage, Inc., baggage handling systems consultant

Virtual Energy Solutions, baggage handling systems consultant

Communication Resources Northwest, communications advising

Faithful + Gould, cost estimating

Vistara Construction Services, cost estimating

2IM Group, document control

Jensen Hughes, life safety & code compliance consultant

Architrave, Ltd., life safety & code compliance consultant

TransSolutions, simulations

ArchiTech Consulting, Inc., specifications

Morreale Strategic Communications, strategic communications

Ross & Baruzzini, Inc., technology & special systems consultant

Montel Technologies, technology & special systems; baggage handling systems consultant

Catalyst Consulting Group, technology & special systems; baggage handling systems consultant

TranSmart Technologies, Inc., technology & special systems; baggage handling systems consultant



Chicago Tribune — "O’Hare expansion set to take off under hometown architect Jeanne Gang"

“We like the idea that someone with deep local roots is creating the city’s next-level link to the world. We’re counting on Gang to lift the O’Hare experience to new heights.”


Studio Gang-led Team Wins Competition to Design Global Terminal and Concourse at Chicago's O'Hare Airport

Studio Gang-led team Studio ORD has won the international competition to design the first global alliance terminal in the United States. Learn more


Crain's Chicago Business — "Chicago is Right to Keep O'Hare Revamp on Track"

“With an eye-catching design by Chicago architect Jeanne Gang and cutting-edge technologies on par with next-generation airports popping up around the world, the new terminal would bring O’Hare up to 21st-century standards.”