The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announces LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B has won UNESCO’s 2021 Prix Versailles, the global architecture and design award, for a best new airport in the world. This prestigious award fulfills the agency’s promise to transform what was once regarded as the nation’s worst airport into a world-class facility ranking among the best in the nation.
“Almost everyone thought this was impossible. Since beginning construction of a whole new LaGuardia five years ago, we promised an airport that would go from worst to best, taking its place among the world’s finest airports. That’s no longer a promise – it’s an achievement confirmed by a panel of international judges. From cutting-edge architectural design to world-class amenities to inspirational public art alongside state-of-the-art technology, LaGuardia’s Terminal B is leading the transformation of our airports to best in class,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton.
“The Prix Versailles is a testament to the vision and hard work of the Port Authority and our private partners at LaGuardia Gateway Partners. And we’re not done yet. With Delta’s Terminal C at LaGuardia set to open next year, a 21st-century world-class Terminal A at Newark also set to open next year, and a nearly $15 billion transformation underway at JFK, we are transforming our airports from back-of-the-pack to world-class,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole.
“We’re honored to receive the UNESCO Prix Versailles World Architecture and Design Award,” said Frank Scremin, CEO of LaGuardia Gateway Partners, Terminal B’s developer, and manager. “Our vision was to completely elevate and transform the Terminal B experience, incorporating world-class public art, sought-after amenities, iconic architecture and state-of-the-art technology. We’re proud to be recognized as the best airport by the UNESCO panel of judges and thankful to our partners Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Vantage Airport Group, Skanska, Meridiam, JLC Infrastructure, Skanska-Walsh Joint Venture, HOK, and WSP.”
As the recipient of the Prix Versailles, LaGuardia Airport is in lofty company that includes last year’s award winner, Beijing Daxing International Airport.
In announcing this year’s award, UNESCO cited the “qualities of innovation, creativity, a reflection of local, natural and cultural heritage, and ecological efficiency, as well as the values of social interaction and participation which the United Nations holds in high regard.”
LaGuardia Airport Terminal B’s selection for the 2021 Prix Versailles for best new airport comes at a time when the new airport continues to make substantial progress and see increased passenger volume, including a new high-water mark for daily passengers since the beginning of the pandemic. On the western side of the airport, the new Terminal B, being developed by LaGuardia Gateway Partners and including design-build lead Skanska-Walsh, opened its four-story, light-filled arrivals and departures hall in 2020. Its latest section of new gates opened earlier this month, bringing the total number of new gates to open so far to 30, spread across two concourses connected to the arrivals and departures hall by the world’s first dual-pedestrian skybridges.
On the eastern side, the construction of Delta Air Lines’ new Terminal C arrivals and departures hall is rapidly advancing and is anticipated to open in Spring 2022. The first new gates of Delta’s terminal on the airport’s far eastern side opened in 2019 with striking views of Flushing Bay. The 1.3-million-square-foot terminal will feature 37 new gates when complete.
The new Terminal B has proven itself in terms of sustainability, having been designated earlier this year as the first airline terminal in the world to achieve LEED v4 Gold Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The airport’s transformation also reflects the Port Authority’s commitment to diversity, having achieved a historic $2 billion in contracts awarded to Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises.
The annual Prix Versailles awards, created in 2015 to promote the relationship between culture and commerce, recognize the most remarkable structures, in terms of both interior and exterior architecture, in the categories of Airports, Campuses, Passenger Stations and Sports. Because the Prix is associated with the Palace of Versailles, it aspires for this world-renowned symbol of beauty and elegance to serve not as a model but as a beacon and impetus for quality commercial architecture, today and tomorrow.
In 2015, a comprehensive plan to construct a whole new LaGuardia Airport was unveiled with the goal of creating a world-class, 21st-century passenger experience featuring modern customer amenities, state-of-the-art architecture, more spacious gate areas and a unified terminal system. The $8 billion project, two-thirds of which is funded through private financing and existing passenger fees, broke ground in 2016.
In February 2018, the new Terminal B parking garage opened with over 3,000 spaces and a dedicated level for Uber, Lyft and other for-hire car services. In December 2018, the first of 18 new gates and the first new concourse in Terminal B opened. In October 2019, Delta Air Lines opened its first new concourse and seven new gates. In June 2020, the new Arrivals and Departures Hall at Terminal B opened.
In August 2020, the first phase of a second new concourse at Terminal B opened, followed by the opening of the second phase in December 2021. Delta’s new arrivals and departures hall at Terminal C will open in mid-2022.
The new unified airport offering the 21st-century customer experience New Yorkers deserve is being built while maintaining operations at the existing airport. As new facilities are completed, old facilities are demolished, ensuring the airport never loses capacity. LaGuardia Airport will be substantially complete in 2022 and will be an asset for growth as New York recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.