Bay Area Celebrates the Opening of SFO’s Harvey Milk Terminal 1

July 22, 2019

San Francisco International Airport’s Harvey Milk Terminal 1 held a Community Day on July 21 attended by thousands to celebrate the completion of the first nine gates in the new terminal.

Alongside a colorful event schedule reflecting San Francisco’s diversity and creativity – the Glide Ensemble gospel choir, Glenda the Good, art activities for kids, selfie stations and a VR experience of the Revit model – was a distinguished roster of speakers including Mayor London Breed. “We are changing travelers’ experience more than any other airport in the world,” said Breed. “And I’ve been to a lot of airports!”

Final completion of the terminal is slated for 2023, with construction taking place in two stages. The design-build and project management team responsible for this first airside phase, Boarding Area B, includes Austin Commercial & Webcor Builders Joint Venture with Woods Bagot (interior design and terminal planning), HKS (exterior envelope and programming), KYA and ED2 International. The construction managers are WSP, Parsons Brinkerhoff, and AGS. The Terminal 1 Center (landside) design-build team consists of Hensel Phelps, Gensler, and Kuth Ranieri, with AECOM and Cooper Pugeda Management JV as construction managers.

One of the collective team’s design goals was to create a terminal that would be unmistakably of its place. SFO Airport Director Ivar C. Satero confirmed that “the terminal focuses on the passenger experience; we want people to experience the values of our city, and what better way than to celebrate Harvey Milk. The concessions, many of them local businesses, continue to elevate SFO for local quality. The size, which could be overwhelming, was designed at a human scale. And this wouldn’t be San Francisco without hundreds of power outlets and a yoga room.”

Following a unanimous vote by the city’s Board of Supervisors, the terminal was named after Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the history of California. Milk was assassinated in 1978. A tribute wall telling the story of Milk’s life, staggering in scale and emotion, greets everyone entering the terminal.

Geoff Neumeyer, SFO’s Chief Development Officer, sang the praises of the design teams. “We selected the teams based on values. We looked for the most inclusive, diverse, innovative teams out there – and found them. This was an extraordinary collaboration between two teams that would normally be competitors, resulting in a building that is setting new standards for architecture, design, and technology.”

The sustainability goal is LEED Gold, an extraordinary accomplishment for the energy-hungry airport typology. Sustainable features include dynamic glazing – every window has its own IP address – a state of the art baggage system, and photovoltaic panels on the roof. More than a terminal, this is also a museum. Five site-specific artworks, including the red wayfinder “Guiding Star,” and 25 pieces by local artists, were selected by the San Francisco Arts Commission.

The Woods Bagot team was led by Principals Carsten Voecker, Katy Mercer, Tamara White and Associate Principal Richard Spencer out of the San Francisco studio. Nine more gates are scheduled to open next year, with final completion slated for 2023. An example of “People Architecture” on a grand scale, the terminal will be used by an anticipated 17 million people each year.