Terri Meyer Boake BES BArch MArch LEED AP
Associate Professor :: Associate Director :: School of Architecture :: University of Waterloo

United Airlines Terminal
O'Hare International Airport

Helmut Jahn Architect

Chicago, Illinois


Project Information:

O'Hare Airport is credited with a major shift in airport design towards the use of architecturally exposed structural steel. Up to this point, most terminals used either an unexpressive structure, or if exposed, reinforced concrete. Murphy/Jahn developed a language of AESS steel and connections that was to greatly influence subsequent building typologies.

More information on this project may be seen at Great Buildings Online and structurae.com.

Project Images:

Glazed steel truss bridge connects the terminal with the parking garage opposite.
The curbside passenger drop zone is characterized by red painted exposed steel, using a combination of mostly round HSS columns with punched WF beams.

Detail of the embellished double column support for the garage link bridge.
View inside the garage link bridge highlighting the red round HSS tube trusses that form the side walls.

Detail of base joint of truss.
Detail showing intersection of punched WF roof member as it intersects with the side truss of the bridge.
View along front wall of main terminal adjacent to passenger drop area.
The main terminal wall uses a similar vocabulary of AESS, but drops the red colour in favour of a light grey throughout the balance of the terminal.
Detail of X bracing connector at exterior of building.
View inside terminal at check-in areas.
View towards the check in counters.
Looking up at the linear skylights that march along the check in area. A mesh filter directly below the skylight prevents direct sunlight from entering the space.
These steel rod systems are used to suspend a steel frame grid over top of the counter area at the check-in desk.
Detial of tube to tube connection at the base of the truss system that supports the skylights.
Project Images: The Terminal at Night
The character of the space is entirely different at night.
The steel structure is uplit and the ceramic frit on the glass blocks out the blackness of the night sky.
The overall appearance of the structre becomes more opaque.
Uplighting highlights the diagonal bracing in the curved roof.


These images are for educational use only and may not be reproduced commercially without written permission. tboake@sympatico.ca

Updated July 19, 2005