The Denver International Airport, was designed by Holder Mathias Architects, that located in the United States – if not the world – Spanish Architect Santiago Calatrava is the go-to guy when it comes to designing transportation facilities. Having established a reputation as a formidable designer of bridges, Calatrava moved on to design a collection of world-class cultural facilities and other instantly recognisable structures such as the Chicago Spire and the Ground Zero Transportation hub, earning him a fair share of fans and critics.
The new South Terminal Redevelopment Program at Denver’s International Airport is made up of four independent yet physically integrated projects: a new rail station that will connect the airport to downtown Denver, a signature rail bridge, a multi-use plaza with retail and concessions, and a 500-room hotel and conference centre. Denver is one of the few major airports in the world without a passenger rail link to the downtown. This project endeavors to change that by building out the original plans of the 1995 airport which included an on-site hotel and a rail station linked to the downtown. In designing the train station located next to Jeppesen Terminal’s iconic roof, Calatrava chose to continue the axial symmetry of the terminal in the new work and contrast its tensile fabric tents with a compressive arch – a motif he continues in each of the program elements.
This motif is first announced in the project’s signature rail bridge, a tied arch structure, which serves as a symbolic gateway to the Denver International Airport and is continued in the station’s design where the arch is repeated to create a generous four storey vaulted space. Stairs, elevators and escalators provide access from the station to lateral circulation galleries located in flanking podium structures. These galleries connect passengers to the existing baggage claim area, the plaza, and landscaped areas to the north. The podium structures house a conference centre and hotel support spaces to the east and office space to the west.