Mayor Lee Celebrates SFO Terminal 2 Grand Opening

Old International Terminal Transformed into First Registered U.S. LEED Gold Terminal, New Home for American Airlines and Virgin America

Apr 06, 2011, 15:00 ET from San Francisco International Airport

SAN FRANCISCO, April 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Mayor Edwin M. Lee today unveiled the state-of-the-art Terminal 2 (T2) at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Turner Construction and Gensler renovated the 1954 terminal in a design-build partnership for $383 million, recycling 90% of the original building content, and created nearly 2,700 jobs. Registered with the United States Green Building Council, the terminal aims to be the first LEED Gold-certified terminal in the United States.

The 640,000-square-foot terminal is the new home for American Airlines and Virgin America, which – with the arrival of American Airline's Susan G. Komen Special Edition 757 and vintage DC-3 as well as Virgin America's new Airbus A320 and Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipTwo space launch system – provided visitors today with a first-hand glance at the past, present and future of commercial aviation. The first T2 flights will commence on Thursday, April 14. The community is invited to a free Open House on Saturday, April 9.

"As we witness today the opening of a new generation of airport terminals, we are reminded once again of San Francisco's global reputation as an innovator and leader," said Mayor Lee. "The completion of T2 is a game changer on many levels. Not only is it a uniquely sustainable and world class terminal, but this project brought green jobs to the region and will keep permanent jobs when we need them most, boosting our local and regional economy."

"Today, as San Francisco unveils the most innovative, environmentally sustainable domestic airport in the country, Terminal 2 marks California's active role as a transportation hub that connects air travelers with modern comforts," said Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. "T2 is an economic engine that has created and will continue to create jobs and bolster our State's economy while being a responsible environmental steward of our natural resources."

Originally constructed in 1954 and renovated in 1984, the 640,000 square foot Terminal 2 housed SFO's international flights until 2000, when it was replaced by the new International Terminal. The design of T2 is a notable departure from traditional airport terminals – most of which were built decades ago. T2 is customized for today and tomorrow's modern travelers with features designed to elevate the travel experience and to shatter perceptions and limitations of what the public has come to expect from air travel. This was made possible thanks to a strong design-build partnership between Turner Construction and Gensler.

"SFO has created the finest traveler experience in an earth-friendly package," said SFO Director John L. Martin. "T2 is modern, restful, and intuitive. It demonstrates how we can simultaneously achieve sustainability and enhance the traveler experience."

"Going green at SFO is an important journey for the nearly 40 million people who fly through the airport annually," said U.S. EPA's Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld. "Each passenger will learn how green buildings save energy, water, building materials and money. This is the future of airports."

"Our design for T2 puts passengers first," said Gensler Founder Arthur Gensler. "We want people to enjoy the time that they spend at the airport and be delighted by unexpected experiences."

Sustainable Features at T2

T2 is the first airport terminal in the United States that is LEED Gold-registered. The terminal was built with multiple progressive sustainable features aimed at reducing carbon emissions while also creating a more healthful environment for travelers and staff. These features include:

  • Natural Light – Skylights bring daylight into the ticketing lobby and retail areas, providing a healthier work environment, while significantly reducing electricity requirements during daylight hours.
  • Cleaner Air – An innovative displacement ventilation system that uses filtered air to improve indoor air quality, while using 20 percent less energy.
  • Car-Free Connection – T2 connects to BART via SFO's AirTrain people mover system, so that travelers and employees alike can easily go from airport to city on mass transit.
  • Zero-Waste – Waste stations replace traditional garbage cans with easy-to-use compartments for composting, recyclables and trash.
  • Locally Grown – Local, organic food vendors, offering wholesome food grown and prepared in a healthful manner.
  • Water Conservation – A dual plumbing system that allows for reclaimed water from SFO's water treatment facility to be used for toilets and other uses throughout the airport. Moreover, T2's plumbing fixtures use 40 percent less water than typical fixtures.
  • Paperless Ticketing – A paperless ticketing system throughout the terminal increases efficiency and saves trees.
  • Energy Efficiency – Energy efficient lighting and machinery will drastically reduce energy use.
  • Sustainable Building Materials – Sustainable building materials include terrazzo flooring with recycled glass chips, recycled-content carpet and innovative and efficient use of structural steel.
  • American's Admirals Club was also built with sustainability in mind. Various techniques were employed to maintain a high level of sustainability, such as water-use reduction, optimizing energy performance and construction waste management.

Key Design Features of T2

  • Relax After Security – A unique "Recompose" area past the security screening area that allows passengers a quiet and unhurried place to re-assemble their clothing and carry-on items. The Recompose also features a striking original ceiling installation by world-renowned artist Janet Echelman.
  • Dining & Shopping Marketplace – Inspired by San Francisco's historic Ferry Building, T2 offers a beautiful food marketplace and retail street featuring the best of the Bay Area's retailers and restaurants focusing on locally-sourced, organic offerings.
  • Computer Connections – Work-oriented counter seating with outlets and free wifi.
  • Club-like lounge seating – Lounge in comfortable and stylish "Egg" chairs and seating designed by Fritz Hansen.
  • Hydration Stations – Special tap-water hydration stations for filling re-usable water bottles.
  • Places for Kids – Two unique children's play areas with original artwork that doubles as play pieces by Bay Area artists Walter Kitundu and Charles Sowers.
  • American Airlines Admirals Club – Before, between or after flights, AA's brand-new, LEED Silver-registered Admirals Club – the only airport lounge in the terminal – provides a quiet place to relax or work in comfort and style.

"Turner is very proud to have delivered on the promise of building toward LEED Gold specifications on schedule and under budget," said Turner Construction Senior Vice President Michael O'Brien. "T2 is the nation's first terminal renovation built to LEED Gold specifications. The original goal was LEED Silver, but the project team worked very hard to exceed that. We managed to recycle 93 percent of our construction waste, diverting more than 18,500 tons from our landfills."

Airlines at T2

T2 will be home to American Airlines and Virgin America. American Airlines first flew out of SFO's original T2 building in 1954 and utilized one of the first jet bridge prototypes. Virgin America, launched in 2007, is San Francisco's only home-based airline, and T2 will serve as the airline's principal base of operations. Each airline will occupy seven of the 14 gates at T2.

American also provides customers with T2's only airline lounge – a new, environmentally friendly Admirals Club expected to receive LEED Silver-certification. At more than 9,400 square feet – almost double the size of its previous lounge in T3 – American's new Admirals Club features comfortable seating for up to 165 guests, a business center with HP PCs, Wi-Fi, a walk-up cyber cafe with HP TouchSmart PCs, a TV lounge with flat-panel TVs, private spa-like showers and architecture reflecting the unique character of Northern California.

"American Airlines is among the longest-serving airlines in the San Francisco Bay Area, so we are looking forward to opening a new era of service out of an innovatively designed terminal that we know our customers will enjoy," said Tim Ahern, American's Vice President – Airport Services. "Now – more than six decades after American first began operating from the original Terminal 2 – the new T2, along with our new Admirals Club, will be ideal for our operations and will provide our customers with a great travel experience. The terminal also makes it convenient to fly on our oneworld Alliance partners that provide nonstop service to several international cities."

Known for its sustainable practices and inventive design, Virgin America informed the T2 design concept process and it is anticipated that Virgin America's spaces within T2 will ultimately achieve the highest possible LEED-Platinum certification. Virgin America is the only California-based airline. With outstanding service, custom-designed cabins and high-tech amenities, Virgin America has been winning over consumers and travel awards since its August 2007 launch – including capturing the "Best Domestic Airline" title in Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards for the past three years. Virgin America has created 1,900 jobs and welcomed more than 11 million guests since its launch. The airline continues to fuel significant expansion, with its employee base projected to grow by 500 additional teammates a year and its fleet projected to triple in size by 2019.

"Virgin is known around the world for product innovation that improves the customer experience. I am proud to see Virgin America grow into a new home that allows them to extend that unique Virgin experience from the aircraft to the airport," said Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson. "Thanks to the vision of SFO and Gensler, T2 is a leader in sustainable airport design and the evolution of the airport guest experience. Just as Virgin America now has guests who say 'I wish my flight was longer,' T2 is a place travelers will actually enjoy visiting and spending time in."

"As a new carrier and as the only California-based airline, we've had an opportunity to build sustainable practices into our operations from day one," said Virgin America CEO and President David Cush. "We've also utilized the latest in design to enhance the traveler experience – and we hope, elevate the journey beyond just getting from Point A to Point B. As we grow, we're proud to partner with SFO and the City to create a new home that embodies these same principles – and in a very real sense the innovative, environmentally-focused spirit of the Bay Area. T2 will not only elevate the travel experience, it will serve as a model for sustainable airport design around the world."

Art at T2

The traveler's experience will be further augmented by SFO's world-renowned signature public art program featuring dozens of art works by local and international artists. The five permanent new public art works commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission for T2 include: Norie Sato's Air Over Under; Kendall Buster's Topography; and Janet Echelman's Every Beating Second. Exploratorium artists Charles Sowers and Walter Kintundu have developed art-as-play areas for children, featuring Charles Sowers' Butterfly Wall; and Walter Kintundu's Bay Area Bird Encounters. In addition, a new special exhibit presented by the SFO Museum, A Century of Silver and Metalwork from the Margo Grant Walsh Collection will be on display through October 2, 2011.

"The five new commissions are as bold and exciting as the surrounding architecture. In addition to the new art, we've reinstalled 20 artworks, which were historically in the airport's collection, by some of the best artistic talent to emerge from the Bay Area from the early 1960s through the mid-1980s," said Luis R. Cancel, director of cultural affairs for the San Francisco Arts Commission. "World-class art is a part of the fabric of everyday life in San Francisco, and what better way to set the stage for our visitors than with a museum-quality art collection at our gateway."

About SFO

SFO ( provides nonstop service to more than 65 US cities on 21 domestic airlines and to 32 international points on 27 international carriers. SFO offers twice as many non-stop flights to the New York area than all other Bay Area airports combined – making SFO the Bay Area's Airport of Choice. SFO was voted "North America's Best Airport" in 2008 by passengers for its outstanding customer service and amenities.

About Turner

Turner is the leading general builder in the U.S., ranking first or second in the major segments of the building construction field. During 2009, Turner completed $8.2 billion of construction. Turner is the only builder offering clients a nationwide network of offices across the U.S. Founded in 1902, the firm is a subsidiary of HOCHTIEF, a publicly traded company and one of the world's leading international construction service providers. For more information, go to:  

About Gensler

Gensler is a global design, planning, and strategic consulting firm networked across 35 locations on five continents. Consistently ranked by U.S. and international industry surveys as the leading architecture and interior design firm, Gensler leverages its deep resources and diverse expertise to develop design solutions for industries across the globe. For its longstanding commitment to the advancement of sustainable design, Gensler received the Leadership Award from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2005. For more information, go to:

About American Airlines

American Airlines, American Eagle and AmericanConnection® serve 250 cities in 50 countries with, on average, more than 3,600 daily flights. The combined network fleet numbers more than 900 aircraft. American's award-winning website,®, provides users with easy access to check and book fares, plus personalized news, information and travel offers. American Airlines is a founding member of the oneworld® Alliance, which brings together some of the best and biggest names in the airline business, enabling them to offer their customers more services and benefits than any airline can provide on its own. Together, its members serve approximately 900 destinations with more than 9,000 daily flights to 145 countries and territories. American Airlines, Inc. and American Eagle Airlines, Inc. are subsidiaries of AMR Corporation. AmericanAirlines, American Eagle, AmericanConnection,, and AAdvantage are trademarks of American Airlines, Inc. (NYSE: AMR).

About Virgin America

Headquartered in California, Virgin America offers guests attractive fares and a host of innovative features aimed at reinventing air travel. Virgin America is a U.S. owned and operated airline that has created 1,900 jobs and welcomed more than 11 million guests since its August 2007 launch. In January 2011, Virgin America announced plans to triple its fleet size by 2019 with an order for 60 new Airbus A320 Family aircraft – including the first order for the new eco-efficient Airbus A320neo. The airline's current base of operations is SFO's International Terminal. On April 14, 2011, the airline will grow to become an anchor tenant at SFO's new Terminal 2. Virgin America flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Cabos, Cancun and Chicago (as of May 25, 2011).

SOURCE San Francisco International Airport