Until recently, Chicago O’Hare Airport was the busiest passenger airport in the world. Back in the 90s, it was efficient but plain jane. It featured few design elements, and only a smattering of food and retail outlets near security. A new approach was needed – more shops and services near the gates and a memorable theme that evoked a feeling of Chicago.
We created a Retail Master Plan for Terminals 1, 2 and 3 with our partner firm ISI Epstein, designs for three specific projects and guidelines/reviews for vendor designs. The H/K Apex was the most successful, replacing a rabbit warren of airline offices with a striking food court based on a “Winds Over Chicago” theme. The design echoes the curved river, graceful bridges, and iconic buildings of Chicago and is lit by museum quality lanterns. Both arriving and departing passengers flow past, offering convenience for them and increased sales for vendors.
Two terminals received retrofits, and when the project ended in 2001, O’Hare was recognized as one of the first airport’s to embrace the concepts of symmetry, symbolism and service in retail operations.