Initially selected in January 2012 for only a six-month assignment to create the conceptual and schematic design drawings for the expansion of a terminal building, RS&H associates flew down to Costa Rica to begin a relationship with an international client that we had hoped to nurture and grow for the coming years. But, little did we know how strong that relationship would become. Over the course of three quick years, RS&H has had a total of nine work orders at the Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose. From construction oversight to analysis of the master plan, we’ve helped improve efficiency and safety at the airport, and therefore, improved tourism for the entire country of Costa Rica – setting the standard for the country.

Through our continued efforts, RS&H has become a trusted partner to the airport, providing insight to the aviation industry’s trends. This includes updating the airport security and access control systems to a standard well ahead of most US airports, as well as updating its life safety and fire-protection system to exceed International Building Code (IBC) standards. These two efforts alone have prompted a change in practices at the national level, particularly in the approach being taken by the local fire marshal and officials in reviewing the facilities at the airport.

In the past few months alone, RS&H has been selected for three projects with the Costa Rican airport.

Last September, we were hired to perform an oversight and management role on the inspection and construction administration process for the expansion of the passenger terminal building. This win was a spin-off of the conceptual and schematic design drawings from our first project with the airport. Construction began in October, and one of RS&H’s architects, Luis Villalobos, has been traveling to and from Costa Rica to ensure the construction is accurate.

Then in December, RS&H was selected to perform a new concept plan development for a long list of projects over the next 18 months. Project types could include a large expansion of the passenger terminal building, a new domestic terminal building, a new aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) station, a new maintenance building, and other related projects.

Finally, we were selected for a pavement analysis that began in November but was just wrapped up in January. We completed a pavement classification index analysis, which involved a detailed inspection of the entire airfield at Juan Santamaría International. With little notice, two of our engineers, Steve Stroh and Nick Cummings, traveled to Costa Rica in November and worked from sunrise to sunset on the runway. The airfield stayed active during the analysis with plenty of aircraft interrupting the process. Our associates were in constant contact with the control tower to quickly clear the runway as aircraft landed and departed. While everyone had budgeted the analysis to be completed in five days, it only took our associates two days to complete all the tasks due to their excellent preplanning. In appreciation of their effort to finish the analysis ahead of schedule, the airport arranged for the two to participate in a tour of a nearby coffee plantation, giving them a chance to see more of the country.

“Our hope is to continue to grow our relationship with Juan Santamaría International Airport as our role increases as the nature of the projects transition into final design and construction,” said RS&H Project Manager Dennis Iskra.

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Joe VanHoose
Joe VanHoose
Joe is a storyteller with more than a decade of experience in media relations, with particular specialty in writing and promoting. He can be reached at