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Fentress Global Challenge 2011: Airport of the Future

Location :
USA, web
Submission Deadline :
Registration Deadline :
Award :
valued at $10,000
Jury Members :
G. Hardy Acree, Marvin Malecha ,Helen Norman ,Tibbie Dunbar ,James P. Cramer ,Curtis Fentress
Type :
Open to all, Free Admission, Student Competition
Admission fee :

 Envision the Airport of the Future.

Fentress Global Challenge is an annual international competition created by Fentress Architects to engage students worldwide in the exploration of future design possibilities in public architecture.

FENTRESS ARCHITECTS has designed some of the world’s most innovative and award-winning airport terminals. Our commitment to people and their communities is integrated into every terminal we design. Now, we are launching an exciting project to explore THE AIRPORT OF THE FUTURE. We want to bring EVERYONE together, from experts to periodic travelers, TO SHARE your ideas about the future of air travel and TO ADVANCE the concept of what this future could be. Consider this your PERSONAL INVITATION to participate… write a story, draw a picture, send a video. We will post the most INNOVATIVE ideas on our IDEA LIFT OFF BLOG. It’s an exciting and limitless destination. Fasten your seat belts and OPEN YOUR MIND. It’s time to TAKE OFF..

For 2011, participants are asked to  to envision the Airport of the Future.

In the early days of air travel, airports were called “flying fields” and were little more than grassy strips with a small holding area for passengers. In the late 1950s, as travel by air became more affordable, airport design advanced to handle larger crowds and heavier planes. The airport construction boom of the 1960s brought with it a romantic architectural style that mirrored the mystique of air travel, and passengers would dress in their finest clothing to dine at the airport restaurant before boarding.

From the 1970s to the mid-1990s, however, airports became “people processors” and the romance was gone. Increased regulations and terrorist attacks turned glass windows into opaque walls, and the need for rapid airport expansion with limited budgets resulted in uninspired design. A traveler could anticipate few opportunities for fast food dining, let alone gift shopping, entertainment or relaxation. Airports had become places to get through, rather than be in.

In the last 15 years, airports have experienced a resurgence of inspired design. Beautiful terminals with high-end retail and amenities make a traveler’s layover more pleasant and allow airlines to keep ticket costs down. Globalization is rapidly expanding the need for new airports and airport cities. These future airports will be the cornerstones of tomorrow’s economy, shaping emerging regions in the same way that cities of the past were shaped by their access to seaports and railways.

What is the future of airport design? How will the Airport of the Future look and function?

The 2011 Fentress Global Challenge invites you to answer these questions through design.


Participants are encouraged to explore the topic in a variety of ways and take into consideration multi-layered elements, including urbanization, globalization and innovations in materials, technologies, aesthetics, flexibility, security, adaptability, and traveler experience from “curbside to airside.”

There are no restrictions on site, program or size. However, the proposed design must address the context of a site by showing its location in the world, positioning of the building(s) on the site, and how the design responds to and impacts the site. The objective is to maximize the ability of participants to propose imaginative conceptual design ideas for the Airport of the Future.

All conceptual design submissions must address the following:


– How might your design be a model for the Airport of the Future?
– Do you envision new ways of travel that might impact the design of airports and airport cities?

Passenger Experience

– How might passenger experience change in the future, and how might this affect design?


– What technological innovations might the airport of the future employ?
– How might this affect design?


– What sustainable strategies might airport of the future employ?
– How might this affect design?


  • G. Hardy Acree Airport Director, Sacramento International Airport
  • Marvin Malecha, FAIA Dean of the College of Design, North Carolina State University
  • Helen Norman Editor, Passenger Terminal World
  • Tibbie Dunbar Executive Director, Architecture + Design Museum
  • James P. Cramer, Hon AIA, Hon IIDA Cofounder & Chairman, Design Futures Council
  • Curtis Fentress, FAIA, RIBA Principal-in-Charge of Design, Fentress Architects
Evaluation Criteria

The Final Jury will evaluate designs using the following criteria: Creative Approach, Response to Site, Sustainability and Functionality


  • Fentress Global Challenge is open to graduate and undergraduate students actively enrolled and pursuing an architecture or engineering degree, as well as 2011 graduates.
  • Students must provide proof of active enrollment status.
  • Registrants are required to provide a scanned copy of your student ID and current course schedule.
  • Recent graduates of 2011 must provide a scanned copy of diploma.


  • Competition Announcement:  July 22, 2011
  • Registration Deadline: October 31, 2011
  • Question  Deadline: November 7, 2011
  • Submission Deadline: December 31, 2011
  • Winners Announce: February 15, 2012
  • Winning Designs Exhibited: 2012- 2015


1st Place :

Valued at $10,000.

The price includes $3,000 cash plus

A paid internship at Fentress Architects during the summer of 2012.

Iinternational exposure in the traveling exhibition “Now Boarding

2nd place

$1000 cash + Iinternational exposure in the traveling exhibition “Now Boarding

3rd place

$500 cash +  International exposure in the traveling exhibition “Now Boarding


Winning designs will also gain international exposure in the traveling exhibition “Now Boarding: Fentress Airports + The Architecture of Flight“.

The exhibit debuts on July 16, 2012 at the Denver Art Museum.


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