L.A. Fuess Partners Portfolio

DFW Airport Consolidated Rent-a-Car Facility

Architect: Corgan

Location: DFW Airport, Texas

“Merit Award” 2003 Engineering Awards of Excellence” by American Institute of Steel Construction. 1.6 million sq. ft. on 2 levels, parking for 5,000 cars; post-tensioned concrete beam and slab system with unique structural steel roof framing system. This immense parking structure needed a roof to protect cars and customers that was both unique and eye-catching as well as economical — L.A. Fuess Partners proposed this combination of architecturally exposed steel trusses and long-span roof decking for an award-winning effect.Recognizing the car rental industry as an integral component of the aviation transportation system, DFW International Airport and the architect, Corgan Associates, developed this new rental car terminal to consolidate older, obsolete rental car facilities. The new facility was to offer travelers increased customer convenience, operational efficiency, and a reduction in on-airport traffic movement. In addition, it would decrease congestion on the main airport access thoroughfare, at parking control plazas, and terminal curbside.

The Rental Car facility encompasses 200 acres. The keystone of the facility is a two-story, 130,000 sf common “terminal” building. The crescent-shaped plan easily guides passengers through the facility which houses ten rental car companies; and a two-story, 1.4 million sf parking structure with capacity for 5,000 cars. Both the common building and garage are expandable.

The facility’s design reflects simple, yet elegant forms that provide a pleasant atmosphere upon arrival from travelers’ journeys. It creates a strong identity for thr Rental Car operations while acknowledging the character of the airport’s original terminal design. The key design objective of the project was to use a sequence of design elements that facilitates user way finding, reducing reliance on signage.

The structure has been designed to accommodate operational and safety requirements by separating the garage into three parking areas which are covered to provide protection from the harsh Texas elements. The upper level of the garage, where cars are returned, is partially covered by a suspended metal roof canopy to protect customers and vehicles from inclement weather.

This is one of the primary areas of the project in which structural steel is expressed architecturally — in the repeating system of trusses constructed of arched structural pipe, wire rope tension members, and vertical pipe struts. The vaulted roof forms are arranged to direct travelers between the car rental car-return areas outside and the check-in desks inside. The repeating pattern of arched trusses, rolled metal roofing over structural metal decking, and tension cables anchored to architecturally expressed gusseted column capitals gives the upper level of parking areas its identity. The design of the canopies over the garage was the Structural Engineer’s solution combing functionality and economy.

On the opposite side of the rental car facility from the covered parking area, a dramatically curved tubular steel framework defines the upstairs bus pick-up area, where travelers begin their short return trip to the airline terminals. Tension cables and gusseted column capital details seen in the covered parking areas recur here.

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