Fentress Global Challenge 2011: Airport of the Future

Fentress Global Challenge 2011: Airport of the Future
Courtesy of Fentress Architects

Fentress Global Challenge is an annual international competition created by Fentress Architects to engage students worldwide in the exploration of future design possibilities in public architecture. The competition theme changes each year to reflect current issues. For 2011, students around the globe are invited to envision the Airport of the Future.

Winning students will receive cash prizes and gain international exposure. Top design concepts will be exhibited online and in the Airport of the Future section of the international touring exhibition Now Boarding: Fentress Airports and the Architecture of Flight, which will offer a multi-media immersion into the past, present and future of airport design. It will open in North America in the summer of 2012, and will travel internationally through 2015. More information on the competition after the break.

This competition will showcase imagined possibilities in airport design. Your goal is to advance the concept of what the future could be… it’s an exciting and limitless destination.

Technological innovation and sociological expectation constantly drive design forward, and airports are on the cutting edge of this thrust. The aviation industry plays an integral role in the global economy with 2.4 billion passengers, 43 million tonnes of freight, supporting 32 million jobs and US$3.5 trillion in economic activity annually across the globe. And the industry is growing. By 2050, it is estimated that 16 billion passengers and 400 million tonnes of freight will be flown each year.

In the early days of air travel, airports were called “flying fields” and were little more than grassy strips with a small holding area for passengers. In the late 1950s, as travel by air became more affordable, airport design advanced to handle larger crowds and heavier planes. The airport construction boom of the 1960s brought with it a romantic architectural style that mirrored the mystique of air travel, and passengers would dress in their finest clothing to dine at the airport restaurant before boarding.

From the 1970s to the mid-1990s, however, airports became “people processors” and the romance was gone. Increased regulations and terrorist attacks turned glass windows into opaque walls, and the need for rapid airport expansion with limited budgets resulted in uninspired design. A traveler could anticipate few opportunities for fast food dining, let alone gift shopping, entertainment or relaxation. Airports had become places to get through, rather than be in.

In the last 15 years, airports have experienced a resurgence of inspired design. Beautiful terminals with high-end retail and amenities make a traveler’s layover more pleasant and allow airlines to keep ticket costs down. Globalization is rapidly expanding the need for new airports and airport cities. These future airports will be the cornerstones of tomorrow’s economy, shaping emerging regions in the same way that cities of the past were shaped by their access to seaports and railways.

What is the future of airport design? How will the Airport of the Future look and function? The 2011 Fentress Global Challenge invites you to answer these questions through design.


Participants are encouraged to explore the topic in a variety of ways and take into consideration multi-layered elements, including urbanization, globalization and innovations in materials, technologies, aesthetics, flexibility, security, adaptability, and traveler experience from “curbside to airside.”

There are no restrictions on site, program or size. However, the proposed design must address the context of a site by showing its location in the world, positioning of the building(s) on the site, and how the design responds to and impacts the site. The objective is to maximize the ability of participants to propose imaginative conceptual design ideas for the Airport of the Future.

All conceptual design submissions must address the following:


- How might your design be a model for the Airport of the Future? - Do you envision new ways of travel that might impact the design of airports and airport cities?


- What technological innovations might the airport of the future employ? - How might this affect design?


- What sustainable strategies might airport of the future employ? - How might this affect design?

Passenger Experience

- How might passenger experience change in the future, and how might this affect design?


- Fentress Global Challenge is open to graduate and undergraduate students actively enrolled and pursuing an architecture or engineering degree, as well as 2011 graduates. - Students must provide proof of active enrollment status. Registrants are required to provide a scanned copy of your student ID and current course schedule. Recent graduates of 2011 must provide a scanned copy of diploma.

Competition Schedule

Competition Announcement: Friday, July 22, 2011 Registration Deadline: Monday, October 31, 2011 Question Submission Deadline: Monday, November 7, 2011 Design Submission Deadline: Saturday, December 31, 2011 Winners Announce:d Wednesday, February 15, 2012 Winning Designs Exhibited: July 2012- 2015 Internship at Fentress Architects: Summer 2012

For more detailed information, visit here.

About this author
Cite: Alison Furuto. "Fentress Global Challenge 2011: Airport of the Future" 05 Sep 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/165926/fentress-global-challenge-2011-airport-of-the-future> ISSN 0719-8884

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