T2 at SFO on View April 9 – On Scene with Bill Wilson

Natural light and design welcome travelers to T2 at SFO
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2011

Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson © 2010

Officials from San Francisco International Airport led a hard-hat tour on February 10 to announce that it is nearing the completion of a $383 million renovation of Terminal 2 (T2), one of the most sustainable and modern airport terminals in the United States. The new home for American Airlines and Virgin America, T2 will open to the public for a community open house on Saturday, April 9, 2011, with the first flights commencing on Thursday, April 14, 2011.

Originally constructed in 1954 and renovated in 1984, the 640,000 square ft Terminal 2 housed the Airport’s international flights until December 2000, when it was replaced by the current International Terminal. Built through a design-build partnership between Gensler and Turner Construction, the renovated T2 will offer 14 gates serving Virgin America and American Airlines.

John Martin, Airport Director, speaks before media
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2011

“T2 demonstrates how we can achieve sustainability in a way that enhances the traveler experience,” said John L. Martin, Airport Director. “T2 is modern, comfortable, intuitive and better suited to meet the needs of today’s travelers. From the early design and construction practices to paperless ticketing – we have provided this experience using sustainable methods at every step along the way.”

The design of T2 is a notable departure from traditional airport terminals – most of which were built decades ago. T2 is customized for today and tomorrow’s modern travelers with features designed to elevate the travel experience.

Work stations with plenty of plugs at each gate
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2011

“In T2, our goal is to reset traveler expectations. We’re striving to de-stress the travel experience, offer passengers a healthful, sustainable environment, and even delight people with fun things to do,” said Steve Weindel, Principal Gensler, the project’s architect.

Key design features include:

•Better Seating – Club-like seating in the dining and waiting areas that allows views of all the gates.

•Relax After Security – A unique “recomposure” area past the security screening area that allows passengers a quiet and unhurried place to re-assemble their clothing and carry-on items.

•Food Marketplace – The country’s first airport food marketplace and retail street featuring local, organic vendors and producers, including restaurants from noted chefs Cat Cora and Tyler Florence.

•Computer Connections – Work-oriented counter seating with outlets and free Wi-Fi.

•Hydration Stations – Special tap-water hydration stations for filling re-usable water bottles.

•Place for Kids – A children’s play area with original artwork and play pieces.

Kid’s Spot with letters to climb on and seats that bounce
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2011

T2 is the first airport terminal in the United States that is LEED® Gold-Registered. The terminal was built with multiple progressive sustainable features that aimed at reducing carbon emissions while also creating a more healthful environment for travelers and staff. These features include:

•Natural Light – Skylights and clerestories bring daylight into the ticketing lobby and retail areas, providing a healthier working environment while significantly reducing electricity requirements during daylight hours.

•Cleaner Air – An innovative displacement ventilation system that uses filtered air to improve indoor air quality, while using 20 percent less energy.

•Car-Free Connection – T2 connects to BART via SFO’s AirTrain people mover system, so that employees and travelers alike can easily go from Airport to City on mass transit.

Air Train already stops at Terminal 2 in April there will be a reason to get off there
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2011

•Zero Waste Stations – Waste stations replace traditional garbage cans with easy-to-use compartments for composting, recyclables and trash.

•Locally Grown – Local-organic food vendors, offering wholesome food grown and prepared in a healthful manner.

•Water Conservation – A dual plumbing system that allows for reclaimed water from SFO’s water treatment facility to be used for toilets and other uses throughout the Airport. Moreover, T2′s plumbing fixtures use 40 percent less water than typical fixtures.

•Paperless Ticketing – A paperless ticketing system throughout the terminal increases efficiency and saves trees.

•Energy Efficiency – Energy efficient lighting and machinery will drastically reduce energy use

•Sustainable Building Materials – Sustainable building materials include terrazzo flooring with recycled glass chips, recycled-content carpet and innovative and efficient use of structural steel.

Hydration station includes fixtures specifically designed for filling water bottles
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2011

The travelers’ experience will be further augmented by SFO’s world-renowned signature public art program featuring dozens of art works by local and international artists. “The San Francisco Arts Commission’s Public Art Program has assembled a world-class art collection for Terminal 2, including dramatic, new commissions by artists of national and international acclaim,” said San Francisco Arts Commission President P.J. Johnston. “From the moment they step off the plane, travelers will experience the unique spirit of San Francisco, which is a city that is committed to enriching the lives of its residents and visitors through the arts.”

A portion of the artwork commissioned for the front of the terminal
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2011

“The City and County of San Francisco had the innovation and courage to select design-build as the method of contracting – it is the foundation of this amazing, collaborative team,” said Grant Griffanti, Turner Construction Vice President, Construction Services. “Over 8,000 worker-months were expended building this project and Turner is very proud of the quality of the design and the construction.”

“American Airlines was one of the original tenants here at Terminal 2 in 1954, so we’re absolutely delighted to come home again some 57 years later,” said Denise Marrs, American Airlines’ General Manager, San Francisco. “And what a home it is, with our brand new 9,000 square ft Admirals Club, as well as one of the most environmentally friendly settings of any airport we serve. We can’t wait to welcome our first customers in April.”

David Cush, President and CEO of Virgin America and Denise Marrs,
American Airlines General Manager in San Francisco.
(In the background between them is PJ Johnston,
San Francisco Arts Commission President.
On the right is John Martin, Airport Director
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2011

“Virgin America’s mission from day one has been to elevate the typical domestic travel experience above the ordinary through good design, the best in food and entertainment, the latest technology and award-winning guest service. As a new carrier, we’ve also had a unique opportunity to make sustainable practices part of our training, operations and business model since our launch,” said David Cush, President and CEO of Virgin America. “We’re incredibly proud that our new home at T2 will not only extend that unique guest experience into a next-generation airport space, but that it will also become a model for sustainable airport design around the world. This project reflects the entrepreneurial, progressive spirit of our region and we can’t wait for our first guests to start their journeys here.”

Launched in 2007, Virgin America is the only airline headquartered in San Francisco and the new T2 will serve as the airline’s principle base of operations. Known for its sustainable practices and inventive design, Virgin America informed the T2 design concept process and it is anticipated that Virgin America’s spaces within T2 will ultimately achieve the highest possible LEED-Platinum certification.


Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson is a San Francisco-based veteran photojournalist. Bill embraced photojournalism at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR), The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, SFist, SFAppeal. Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past six years. Email Bill Wilson at wfwilson@sbcglobal.net.


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