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Kansas City International Airport New Terminal (KCI)

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)

Kansas City, MO, United States

February 2023


Colin Koop (Design Partner)


Dan Moylan (Development Director, Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate), Mark Goodwin (Vice President, Clark Construction)


Kansas City Aviation Department (KCAD)


Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM


The terminal creates a welcoming, humane, and sustainable vision for 21st century air travel. Drawing inspiration from Kansas City, the material palette embodies the city’s local identity. Most of the materials from the pre-existing terminals were recycled and repurposed for the new terminal. The concrete from the old terminal, for example, became the paving for the new terminal’s airfield. Many of the spaces are finished in terrazzo underfoot and Douglas fir wood overhead. Inside the Check-In Hall, a 732-foot-long wall is clad in local Missouri limestone, which was excavated from the same quarry used for the Missouri State Capitol. The terminal employs a rigorous approach to its expressed structure, utilizing spans and volumes tuned to the terminal's various passenger spaces. The beauty of the exposed steel is complemented by the character of natural douglas fir and hemlock ceilings.

A total of 27 works of art are throughout the terminal as part of a comprehensive public art program, in which one percent of the entire project budget was dedicated to commissioning local and international artists to further contribute to the terminal’s sense of place.

KCI is the first and largest LEED v4 GOLD BD+C: NC terminal/concourse project in the U.S. Midwest, and the second in the entire country. The building also has goals in place to run on renewable energy in the future. It runs entirely on electricity, and a solar farm is planned for construction to convert all airport operations to green energy.


The redevelopment of Kansas City International Airport (KCI) is the largest single infrastructure project in the history of Kansas City. Built to replace the existing, overcrowded terminals—originally built in 1972—with a single, highly sustainable 1.1-million-square-foot building, the project significantly increases passenger capacity, with a design deeply informed by residents throughout the city. The new terminal reimagines the passenger experience—embodying the region's rich culture and elevating the airport into a place that is inclusive and accessible to all.

The new terminal—designed, planned, and engineered by SOM, with design-builder Clark | Weitz | Clarkson (CWC)—propels KCI far into the future. It brings all airline operations under one roof, with a 6,000-space parking garage just steps away, to create a seamless journey for arrivals and departures alike. The airport, originally built as a series of three smaller terminals for 3.8 million annual passengers, is now capable of serving more than 16 million travelers per year. The new terminal's 40 gates are used for domestic and international travel, and the layout enables the facility to expand by another 11 gates in the future.

The new terminal reimagines inclusivity and accessibility for air travel with a design deeply informed by residents throughout the city. Through dozens of community meetings, the team engaged with residents of Kansas City and its surrounding areas to determine how to create a terminal that would be comfortable, convenient, and welcoming to all.


In addition to praise from major travel publications like Conde Nast Traveler, KCI is widely beloved by local residents because much of the decision-making behind the design draws inspiration from the values of Kansas City. Through dozens of meetings, the aspirations for the terminal became clear—convey a sense of place, provide comfort, and be welcoming to all. Pete Buttigieg remarked “so many stories will be shaped for the better by this great public works project.”

Inclusivity became the guiding principle for the design and a series of amenities enhance the accessibility of the terminal to broad segments of the public. A sensory room, divided into private play spaces, offers solace to children with disabilities and their families. A “quiet room,” developed in collaboration with a local dementia advocacy group, accommodates prayer and meditation and gives people with dementia a relaxing place before departing. The Kansas City Air Travel Experience simulator provides passengers who are uncomfortable with air travel the chance to “test run” in the days before a trip by entering a full-size mock-up of an aircraft cabin. There are also two large all-gender restrooms with floor-to-ceiling partitions for privacy.

The city and the developer of the terminal endeavored to exceed industry standards in creating a design and construction team headlined by women-owned businesses. A total of 54 women-owned businesses have worked on this project, and the number of women on the construction team tripled the industry average for participation, at 8 percent.

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