New Terminal Development
Located in the heart of Acadiana in Louisiana, Lafayette Regional Airport (LFT) serves as many as 500,000 customers a year and has an economic impact on the local economy of more than $1 billion. To support the growth of the airport while improving safety, security, airport access, and the passenger experience, the Lafayette Airport Commission embarked on the development of a new terminal. RS&H led the design to deliver a unique building, informed by the natural context, rich history, and culture of all the people who settled the Lafayette area.
Reflecting Community Culture in Terminal Design
Extensive research included visiting museums, cultural centers, and interviewing community leaders to inform the development of architectural design concepts. Three design concepts were proposed to the Lafayette Airport Commission and voted on by the public.
The winning concept, Journey, inspired the unique design of the terminal and reflects nature, art, and music to create a collective experience reflective of a vibrant community.
A sense of place grew out of embracing community culture through metaphors such as the structural-steel canopy at the terminal entrance. The canopy consists of 17,600 sq. ft. of standing seam roof, skylights, and metal panels. Through its colors and geometry, the canopy is designed to reflect elements of the Acadian flag. The 500-year-old St. John Cathedral Oak, a Lafayette landmark, informed the structure of the canopy’s columns. Also inspired by nature, the translucent glass wall separating the security checkpoint from the concourse features a bayou scene from the local Atchafalaya Basin.
The Heart of the Terminal
At the heart of the new terminal is the Central Rotunda, a concessions hall where visitors experience some of the best in local cuisine and culture. The rotunda features a ceiling supported by a cable truss system to reflect the craftsmanship, structure, and strings of a musical instrument. One of the highlights of the rotunda are its windows, which provide expansive views of the airfield and allow for abundant natural light. The windows are made of insulated smart glass that can electronically tint to control sunlight, heat, and glare to reduce energy consumption. The windows can be programmed to tint automatically or on demand depending on the seasonal travel of the sun, creating a pleasant experience for users.
Upgraded Passenger Experience
The new Lafayette Regional Airport nearly doubles the space available in the previous terminal and leaves plenty of room for growth. The new building provides:
- An initial five gates with passenger boarding bridges.
- Significant upgrades to the TSA screening process with two screening lanes and expandability to a third.
- Additional ticketing and baggage claim space.
- An in-line checked bag screening system, which moves the screening process out of the public areas.
Completing the Journey
The new terminal was completed on time and under budget, and the modern architecture exemplifies a journey through Lafayette’s diverse background and unique culture, reflecting a sense of place and providing a rich collective experience.