NY’s LaGuardia Airport Gets Makeover as Brand New ‘Terminal B’ Is Unveiled

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B. Vantage Airport Group/LaGuardia Gateway Partners

Edited by: JV Staff

A new terminal was unveiled  at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, marking the latest step forward in the makeover of a facility once likened to that of “a Third World country” by former Vice President Joe Biden, as was reported by the AP.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Rick Cotton attended Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting for the new, 840,000-square-foot Terminal B, which opened on Saturday.

AP reported that the airport was opened in the late 1930s but had become a cramped, outdated relic by the time Biden said in 2014 that disembarking there was like being “in some Third World country.”

The five-year, $8 billion makeover is in its fourth year, and is replacing six concourses, adding 72 gates and improving parking and access roads. The majority of the funding is coming from private sources through a public-private partnership. A separate project to build a rail link to Manhattan has been approved by the Port Authority, as was reported by the AP.

Air travel has fallen by more than 90 percent at LaGuardia and other New York-area airports due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s no doubt air travel will recover,” Cotton said. “It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. We’re building these projects for the future.”

Also joining Cuomo and Cotton in the celebration of the unveiling of LaGuardia Airport’s new Terminal B Arrivals and Departures Hall (Headhouse) was Walsh Construction, along with joint venture partner Skanska USA, according to a PR Newswire report.

Walsh Construction and Skanska USA, operating as the design-build joint venture of Skanska-Walsh, in partnership with HOK and WSP, was brought on by LaGuardia Gateway Partners, the private developer and operator of Terminal B, for the design and construction of the new 850,000-square-foot Headhouse.

The four-level Headhouse is the new main entrance for passengers traveling through LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B, featuring 60-foot-tall ceilings and a glass façade that fills the massive hall with natural light. The first floor is reserved for ground transportation arrivals, floor two houses the arrivals hall and baggage claim, with passenger check-in located on the third level, and concourse bridges, retail and restaurants reside on the fourth level. The Headhouse design allows airport customers and employees a seamless integration with the new west parking garage, new concourses, and the Central Hall, which is currently under construction and will connect to Terminal C.

“The new Headhouse is the flagship component to LaGuardia’s new Terminal B, and Walsh Construction is proud to join our design and construction partners in unveiling the terminal’s new front door,” said Dan Walsh, co-chairman of Walsh Construction. “The Headhouse completion is a tremendous accomplishment for all stakeholders. We thank the Port Authority, our outstanding managing partner Skanska, and the subcontractor and trade communities for their trusted partnership as we worked hand-in-hand to deliver this facility to the citizens of New York and its visitors.”


Building LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B

The redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport and the new Terminal B, which began in 2016, is a complex multi-phase effort led by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the State of New York that required extensive planning and precise execution. The new Headhouse resides on the site of the old West Parking Garage, which was replaced with a seven-story, 3,100 space Terminal B Parking Garage that opened in February of 2018.

The Skanska-Walsh team also completed construction of the Terminal B Eastern Concourse in 2018. The Eastern Concourse’s cutting-edge design and customer amenities allow travelers ample space across 18 gates. Terminal B will have 35 total gates upon completion of the second (western) concourse. The Terminal B Headhouse will also connect to both concourses via two pedestrian bridges. The first bridge, opening today, is 420 feet long at an elevation of 65 feet. Aircraft will have space to taxi underneath, eliminating runway bottlenecks that plagued the old airport design. LaGuardia is the first airport in the nation with this innovative pedestrian bridge design that spans active taxi lanes.

The Headhouse contains Terminal B’s baggage handling system, totaling over seven miles, roughly two miles of walkways, and 1,200 energy-reducing motors. The inventive baggage claim system runs throughout the airports walls and ceilings.

Beyond the Headhouse, new infrastructure will surround the airport with more than eight miles of new roadways, 17 new roadway bridges, almost two miles of new aircraft taxiway space and 16 fewer traffic lights.


Building with Modern Technologies

The advanced techniques and modern technologies employed by the Skanska-Walsh team were crucial for the intricate execution of LaGuardia’s Terminal B and Headhouse. The team developed the project phasing using a series of 3D and 4D – or time dependent – models that allowed the visualization of the future layout of the airport throughout the duration of the project. Project leaders were able to measure progress with 360-degree photography and laser scanning to keep pace with real-time construction updates, collaborate with subcontractors, and quickly resolve construction challenges across the complex project site.


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