Istanbul, Turkey is constructing its third international airport (the world’s largest), tentatively named Istanbul New Airport—a future ultra modern facility capable of handling substantial airline traffic surges through the ancient city, security threats, and the rapid growth of its premiere airline Turkish Airlines. A sneak peek at its futuristic air traffic control tower design proves the ancient city is poised to hyperspace into the 21st century.
Istanbul is the gateway or crossroad between Europe and Asia. Sometimes this means the diverse nation is caught in the intense crossfire of East-West cultures, politics and ideologies. The latest example was the triple terrorist attack at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport which killed 40-plus people and wounded nearly 250 others. According to reports, Atatürk will be closed once Istanbul New Airport is operational.
Granted, an architectural marvel cannot undo Turkey's national tragedy, but a modern, higher security airport is well overdue here. Istanbul is one of the busiest airport hubs in the world. Opened in 1924, Istanbul Atatzürk Airport is already the third largest airport in Europe (behind London’s Heathrow Airport and Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport), serving approximately 60 million people. Istanbul New Airport is expected to accommodate 90 million by year-end 2017 (Phase 1) and 150 million by it’s estimated 2018 completion date.
The $11.3 billion mega airport will be located about 22 miles outside the city, on the spacious northern end of the Istanbul’s European side. Grimshaw in partnership with Nordic Office of Architecture won rights to design the airport’s passenger terminals, edging out internationally famous firms such as Zaha Hadid Architects. The developer is Istanbul Grand Airport.
Along with its modern design, runways, terminals, air traffic control towers, and technology, one can assume Istanbul New Airport will also showcase the most advanced security—an vital measure for Turkey which has suffered increased threats in the past year, despite bolstering protections.
According to EuroPost, the massive four-phase aviation project will build six runways, eight air traffic control towers, 165 passenger boarding bridges, 500 airplane capacity, and rail-connected terminals spread over 70 million square feet. Phase 1 will feature three runways, one main terminal, two satellite terminals, 88 aircraft bridges, and even hospitals, hotels and convention centers, according to the publication, The National.
Recent renderings offer a glimpse of what could become an iconic 312-foot-high air traffic control tower visible from land or air—a collaborative design by American architecture firm Aecom and Pininfarina, an Italian car design company. The elliptical tower’s shape is inspired by a tulip, a centuries-old important cultural symbol in Turkish lore.
The control tower design complements the airy, space-age airport terminals that should help Istanbul New Airport become a preferred global connection hub for leisure and business travelers headed east or west. These high-tech terminals will improve the traveler experience aesthetically and logistically via grand plaza entrances, glass walls, massive concourses that enhance traveler sense of direction, 75-foot-high vaulted ceilings, natural light, and easy access to existing rail, metro and bus routes.
Burgeoning Turkish Airlines, whose endorsers include basketball legend Kobe Bryant and soccer megastar Lionel Messi, will likely showcase the largest, loungiest terminal of them all.
Now, more than ever, airport security will be priority No. 1 in Istanbul, in light the recent Atatürk terrorist attack. Before the tragedy Richard Meredith, the airport’s Chief Development Officer, discussed the need for “extra depth” and “bigger circulation” areas in all check-in zones. At Istanbul New Airport, bigger is better in every regard.