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Designing In The Non-Space Integrating Airports Into The Urban Realm

Graduate Thesis Nicholas D. Torres Master’s of Architecture Wentworth Institute of Technology April 2014

“All human life can be found in an airport.” David Walliams, Interview on his series “Come Fly with Me” 2010


Table of Contents Research

Primary Thesis Advisor Anne-Catrin Schultz, Ph.D

Assistant Professor, Wentworth Institute of Technology

Process Methodology

Secondary Thesis Advisor Lawrence A. Chan, FAIA

Principal, Chan Architecture & Urban Design

Design Project



Thesis Prep I Advisor Aylin B. Yildirim Tschoepe, Ph.D

Assistant Professor, Wentworth Institute of Technology

Thesis Prep II Advisor Ann Borst

Professor, Wentworth Institute of Technology


Acknowledgments This thesis would not be possible without the guidance and assistance of many people. I would like to thank Ann Borst and Aylin Tschoepe for their help in narrowing my topic and guiding me through forming the basis of my thesis. Also much thanks to Larry Chan for taking time out of his busy schedule to provide invaluable critique and guidance to my thesis during the production process. And of course thanks to Anne-Catrin Schultz for her guidance and inspiration as my primary advisor. Of course none of this would be possible without my parents and grandparents who fostered my interest in both aviation and architecture, taking me to our local airport to watch the planes take off and land, giving me the window seat whenever we traveled, and arriving early to the airport to allow me to explore. If I wasn’t going to be an architect, I wanted to be a pilot.


Abstract The modern airport often acts as a grand, inhuman, spectacle of pseudo-urbanism on the isolated periphery of the urban sphere. With a growing desire for urban connectivity and transparency in our modern society, there must be a way to re-connect the airport back to our cities. This thesis deals with the concept of adapting the urban pedestrian experience to the airport, using and modifying the current barren landscape to make the airport a “place�, humanizing and activating this transportation node in a post security-industrial complex world. Using Logan Airport and its neighbor East Boston as an experimental site, this concept can be proposed to be used as a model for the reconnection of urban-sited U.S. airports. This thesis is proposing that Logan and its surrounding community can begin to play off each other, each having programmatic uses that draws its respective users across the harsh boundary line through means of program, activities, and permanent connections, giving airport users an experience outside the hermetic secure areas and East Boston residents access to new services. This will be done in a series of transition zones along a new urban corridor from the Logan Control Tower to Central Square, with branches along the path to the harbor and re-introduced landscape. The scheme will provide a clear physical link between the neighborhood and the airport through multiple options for movement as well as adapt existing infrastructure such as the parking garages to reduce waste and promote responsible urbanistic use within the airport property.


“It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the phrase, ‘as pretty as an airport.’ Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort.” Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, 1988




Research Question As airports are the next frontier in urban design and are such a crucial infrastructure node that is now treated utilitarian, how can we responsibly create a scaled urban environment in the transition zone between the airport terminal and the environment surrounding it, both in an urban way and a natural way that respects appropriate program and air travel regulations?


Research Essay Introduction Over the past century the airport has risen from small fields for propeller planes to massive infrastructure projects for the masses, they are now global gateways that have reduced traveling across the globe into mere hours. As a result these airports have become centers of economic development and global connectivity. However, in the past couple of decades with the supposed rise in terrorism threats there has been a push to get airports as far away from the city to make people supposedly affected by the noise and pollution happy. Several writers of recent have been discussing the economic and cultural impacts airports have on the citizens they serve. The primary author I have been using, mainly for looking at the unintended and planned developments of airports has been John Kasarda, a professor at the University of North Carolina and he focuses on global management strategy, aviation, and economic development. Together with Greg Lindsay they wrote Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next, focusing on the fact that they believe that aerotropolis are the next phase of globalization. They look towards examples like Amsterdam, Washington, Seoul, and Memphis, among others, to prove their ideals of the perfect airport city. However, there often seems something lurking below the glossy facade of the “ideal aerotropolis” and that seems to be a lack of relation to scale and urbanity. Several of the other authors I read such as Pearman and Zukowsky show the development of the airport and its relation to the urban environment from the sort of Utopian ideals of direct interaction of the 1930’s to the large barriers created by jet-age airports in the second half of the twentieth century. Critics such as Jacobs have been critical of the glossy idealism of Kasarda and hope for a push of urbanism in airport design in an effort to bridge the often inhospitable wastes which encircle the airport complex 1 , which lead me to Trancik and his work on finding lost spaces in the junk space of post-industrial America. Together, these all link to the ideas of scale and its relation to the urban environment, which is at the core concept of my thesis idea, a transition of scale that works for the human experience, but also relates to the global connectivity that the airport provides, in essence serve as that bridge. However, many airport authorities do not know what to do with the massive amounts of space the airport needs other than pure utilitarian uses. 2 As airports are centers of global connectiveness, they are natural points for development, however this opportunity often seems to be loss in the area directly between the airport terminals and the urban fabric and more focused to the central city itself, or messy suburban aggregations at the airport edge. Automotive dependence and poor sighted planning has lead this dearth of un-urban space that should be taken advantage of with our species now in a process of extreme densification. In dealing with this lack of planning I have proposed three different options for development and scalar transition at the airport, using Logan Airport as an experimental site, and using several other airports worldwide as case studies.


Figure 1 - Aerotropolis Diagram by John Kasarda

Figure 2 - Aerotropolis Diagram by John Kasarda

Figure 3 - An Boeing 727 flies over an East Boston neighborhood

1. Jacobs, Karrie. “Quick-Fix Urbanism: Are airports really the key to 21st-century economic development?.” Metropolis 1 Feb. 2011: 34 2. Guller, Mathis, and Michael Guller. From Airport to Airport City. Barcelona: Airport Regions Conference, 2001. 5

Figure 4 - Overview of Logan Airport


Figure 5 - Logan Airport 1938

Figure 6 - Logan Airport 1955

Figure 7 - Logan Airport 1969

Logan As A Site General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport is the gateway to Boston, Massachusetts, and the main international airport for the entire Eastern New England region. It was opened in September of 1923, occupying just a fraction of the size of the current airport with a terminal that opened in 1927 directly adjacent to Jefferies Point neighborhood. In the late 1940’s the airport land was expanded with 1,800 acres of new land filling in the space between Governors, Noodle’s, and Apple Islands. The terminal was also relocated to its current location, much further away from East Boston than before. In 1952 the Airport station on the Blue Line opened, making Boston the first airport in the United States with a rapid transit connection. Logan peacefully co-existed with its neighbors until the mid 1960’s when jet planes began to be introduced. Not only was the noise increased but in order for these new airplanes to land the runways had to be expanded, requiring Massport to buy residential land and the Wood Island Park at the northwest corner of the airport. This was a neighborhood similar in context to the rest of East Boston; tight knit Irish families in triple-decker’s. The public response to this land grabbing was very vocal due to the loss of a beloved park and families forced to relocate. Tensions got so heated that residents would lie in the street to prevent construction equipment from reaching the site. 3 Since this “hot war” in the late 60’s and early 70’s, relations between Massport and the East Boston community have existed in state of relative cold war. Walking through the existing neighborhoods at present time, apart from the light jet noise, there is nothing stating East Boston as the gateway to New England, it remains a quiet isolated neighborhood that is until you reach the “neutral zone”. This is the junk space created by Massport as a buffer zone between the terminals and the neighborhood, roughly bounded by Maverick Road, Porter Street, Bremen Street, and Bennington Street. Within this space are a mixture of parking lots, highways, and airport service areas, the boundary between the two is harsh and abrupt. In the past decade as an attempt to soften this edge, Massport has built two parks, Bremen Street Park, and East Boston Memorial Park, though pleasant parks, do not connect at all with Logan. When Massport rebuilt the approach roads in late 90’s and early 2000’s, 4 they were moved from a relatively approachable surface road to a massive complex of ramps and double level roads, to better facilitate cars on the regional scale, but still regulating transit customers to a bus connection. The divide has been further expanded by the construction of a Consolidated Rental Car Center, giving most of Jefferies Point a view of giant parking garage. Because of the improvements over the past few decades, a two-level roadway, massive parking garages, and moving walkways, fully cocooning the arrival experience, encircle the terminal complex. Around thirty million pass through Logan every year and despite the economic recession that number has only been rising. It employs approximately 12,000 workers and helps stimulate the New England economy by seven billion dollars per year.4 It is an important resource and gateway to the city, but that gateway feeling is unfortunately lost in the junk space, despite how close the airport is to the city center, so close yet so far away.


3. Nelkin, Dorothy. Jetport: The Boston Airport Controversy. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publisher, 1974. 80 4. Massachusetts Port Authority. “History.” Logan Airport. (accessed November 24, 2013)


Figure 8 - Logan Airport 1978

Alternative 1 Airports themselves are microcosms of development, ranging from landscape to urban to industrial, though on a massive scale. One of the most used paradigms of transition is using landscape as a buffer zone. This is the easiest way to approach a scale transition due to relative ease of its implementation. During the early days of aviation, in order to convince the public was viable and safe, airport design was imagined in the image of modern version of the gardens of Versailles, or what Hugh Pearman calls the “Romantic Illusion”. 5 This can be most aptly seen in the Lehigh Airport Competition of 1930 where the competition entries featured dramatic runway layouts in Euclidean geometries reminiscent of formal French Garden design. The entrances to the airline terminals complimented this formal design with actual gardens and a linear sweeping gateway. 6 The “integrated landscape” concept of airport planning was prevalent in the 1930’s and early 1940’s as airports often took up a much smaller footprint and were closer to the urban city, as seen with La Guardia Airport in Queens, New York and Chicago Midway Airport, both heavily defined to the city grid and formal geometries. The problems with this approach to airport planning would become apparent as airplanes quickly developed from smaller propeller planes to larger turbo-prop planes to eventually jet airliners. This pleasant relation with its landscape buffer quickly transformed into massive swaths of barren landscape cleared for larger and longer runways and harbors in filled as well. Jet noise airports were pushed further into the urban fringes and the landscape gaps grew. After decades of disinterest by airport planners, a resurgence in using landscape as a buffer began to appear on the scene. At Schiphol Airport outside of Amsterdam the design firm West 8 was approached by the Schiphol Development Group to help soften the scale transition of the airport and its roadways. Architect Adriaan Geuze took a systematic approach to planting birch trees in all the unused spaces in the terminal complex, on what he calls a “green haze”. 7 The goal was to put in perspective the facades and viaducts of the airport into one cohesive unit rather than an agglomerated mess that many people feared Schiphol was becoming. Also at terminal entrances planters featuring flowers representative of Holland that were changed every few months. These landscape interventions have been viewed as successful in hiding the negative aspects of the complex, and providing a pleasant experience, but seem at points to be just an additive, further separating aspects of the airport. At Regan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, the gap between the terminal complex and Crystal City, a large-scale office and residential complex is filled by Mount Vernon Trail and George Washington Parkway, a network of walking and biking trails and roads that weave next to the Potomac and National Airport, helping blur the transition between the airport and the city on the hill above.

Figure 9 - Entry from Lehigh Airports Competition

Figure 10 - Landscape Buffer at Schiphol Airport


5. Pearman, Hugh. Airports: a century of architecture. New York: H.N. Abrams, 2004. 53 6. Girot, Christophe. “Wild Planes and Airfields.” Lecture, Airport Landscape: Urban Ecologies in the Aerial Age from Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA, November 15, 2013. 7. Geuze, Adriaan. “Counteracting Stress Scape.” Lecture, Airport Landscape: Urban Ecologies in the Aerial Age from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA, November 15, 2013. Figure 11 - Mt. Vernon Trail at National Airport


Figure 12 - East Boston Stadium with Airport Hangers in the Background

Figure 13 - Bremen Street Park

Figure 14 - Original JFK Airport Landscape

This approach has also been done at Logan with the implementation of Bremen Street Park and Memorial Park that filled in several parking lots along the property line, and also in adding pleasant looking landscaping along the entry roads and parking garage entrances. However from my own experiences of analysis, these parks were used another type of barrier, mainly used by the East Boston community, not airport users. Additionally, the parks are severed from the airport by the massive circular ramp system at the end the Ted Williams Tunnel and airport roads. The green space in the terminal complex is used more as pleasant filler while people use the climate controlled skywalks above. One of my design probes looked at inserting a type of landscape into the terminal complex, a typical New England style forest with a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees. It would basically be an urban wild at the foot of the airport and East Boston. While this proves as a much more environmentally friendly insertion rather than parking lots and highway ramps, and starts become successful in a transition of scale in the height sense, it seems out of place in this urban peninsula, too much of a cultural construction of the romantic notion of New England, not enough of a transition into an urban situation. Alternative 2 The next alternative looks at the other end of the spectrum, an urban alternative. Often some of the more successful in terms of passenger load, but often widely hated due to noise concerns are airports located close to the city center. Convenience is the key. Airports must be part of the interconnected networked city. The ironic aspect about the push to move airports as far away from the city as possible, while still being in reasonable driving distance, is that the city always eventually starts reaching towards the airport. Dulles International Airport in Sterling, Virginia was built in the early 1960’s as an international gateway for Washington D.C. for the jet age. Originally decried as a white elephant for it’s distance (twenty-two miles) from the National Mall, over the next few decades, the burgeoning tech industry used this corridor as its center of growth at the nation’s capital, realizing it’s potential for connection to the world and D.C., equidistant at the same time. 8 At the airport’s relative doorstep, this type of development helps serve as the scalar gateway and transition from Dulles to Washington D.C. The Washington Metro is also building a new line along this corridor to the airport. Now what was viewed as extremely distant from the city is basically at its front door. A similar development happened at the Regan National Airport, much closer to D.C. at three miles (a better comparison for Logan), with Crystal City, the development referenced in the previous alternative. Crystal City developed in part of the empty space between the existing residential neighborhood and National Airport, mostly built up in 1980’s. However as a result of a push by the developer to build as much as possible on this land, most of these buildings are large, out of scale with its neighborhood surroundings, and semi-Urban spaces, though compared to the complete suburbanity of the Dulles Technology Corridor, is pretty urban. Unfortunately, in American most of the urban development around airports are commercial or hospitality in form, each developed individually, reliant on the road infrastructure of the airport and often despite being at the airport doorstep, separated from the terminal area by miles. This relates to the theory of “un-planning” or the thought of mid-century planning that lead to the de-urbanization and de-centralization of cities.

_______________________________________________________________________________ 8. Kasarda, John D., and Greg Lindsay. Aerotropolis: the way we’ll live next. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. 17 Figure 15 - Dulles Technology Corridor


Urban planner Roger Trancik often complains that the concept of urban design at this time made from two-dimensional land use plans with not much consideration for the three dimensional relationship. 9 Airports and especially the mid-century filler built around it is part of this lost space, the leftover, unstructured landscape created by auto-dependency and bad urban planning, basically no-mans land. 10 This is why I have been looking at European models of airport development, rather than American ones, specifically examples in Germany. Planners at airports such as Schiphol in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Munich took a different approach to the airport city, focusing on creating an urban city at the foot of the terminal. These developments are views as multi-modal connection nodes for the entire region, not just the airport. 11 As seen at these airports the first thing people see when people exit the airport are mini-cities with a scale of buildings similar to the terminal, gradually moving to a smaller scale as you leave the property. The railway network of the city, region, and country meet at urban style train stations right at the terminal. The plaza at Schiphol Airport has become a popular respite place for airport users, and people from the city, with events being held there. Applying this type of development at Logan could be used in two different ways using an urban model that I explored in my design probes. One involved extending the neighborhood fabric of East Boston up to the terminals themselves. In this exploration I found that while respectful of the community, the change in scale from the terminals to the triple-decker’s was too drastic and in a way created a sprawl of this type of housing over the massive area, as most of the housing scale in this neighborhood is at the rough same scale. The other was introducing a scale of buildings similar to that of the Longwood Medical District, taller and thicker buildings that would be introduced to mediate between the large scale of the terminals and the smaller residential scale. This is a similar scale to what is approached in German Airport City design and also introduces a scale never seen in East Boston before, as Rem Koolhaas would say, if you have the opportunity, take it. However, a common criticism of the Medical District is the fact that the scale transition between it and the residential Mission Hill neighborhood is too abrupt as well as the programmatic use change. This is what I would be worried about when this type of development reaches the existing neighborhood edge at Bremen Street.

Figure 16 - Crystal City With National Airport & Washington D.C

Figure 17 - Schiphol Airport City

Figure 18 - Songdo City near Incheon Airport Korea

_______________________________________________________________________________ 9. Trancik, Roger. Finding lost space: theories of urban design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1986. 1 10. Trancik 8 11. Guller 23

Figure 19 - Squaire at Frankfurt Airport


Figure 20 - JFK Airport with Jamacia Bay

Figure 21 - Logan Aiport with Boston Harbor

Figure 22 - Kansai Airport

Alternative 3 The final alternative I wanted to look at was using water as a form of scalar transition. In many cases airports have been placed along the water’s edge as a form of buffer space, since no one lived on water, it was a natural place for runway glide paths. In addition, seaplanes during the early years were a common form of air travel and as a result airports tended to be near large water bodies, such as the Marine Air Terminal at La Guardia. 12 Using the water as a buffer allows for one or more of the airport’s edges to be a non-problem. Looking at many of the airports that serve major coastal cities, they mainly are located near the water, ranging from airports with the majority of their edges along the water like Logan, JFK Airport in New York, or San Francisco Airport to ones completely surrounded by water like Kansai Airport outside of Osaka, Japan. This alternative provides a new waterfront for dense urban neighborhood and fully separates the airport from the city if needed, creating a literal island for security and transition purposes. However, with this alternative the scale jump could be seen as too drastic over an empty plane and further separates the airport from the city, but could be implemented within a small scale of interweaving to provide aspects of landscape into this faceless environment. Conclusions Weighing the alternatives I have laid out begins to show an interesting approach to development at the airport terminal and the junk space created as a buffer. It would be simple enough to just fill in these empty spaces with townhouses or artificially cut it off by creating a new natural landscape, but that would be taking the easy way out in regards to the potential the airport holds as a hub of regional and civic activity. There needs to be a rethought of the urban interaction of the airport in the United States as something not put on the design periphery, but something that is embraced and integrated. You must look at the not only the airport’s needs but the needs of the community surrounding it. The way I proposed to approach my thesis project is to merge these ideas to create urban spaces that helps blur the transition that keeps the airport as a regional economic hub, and also an expansion of the existing neighborhood, while at the same time not sacrificing on natural landscape, something I believe to be lacking in East Boston from my site analysis. As shown in my program frame I believe that a partially linear scaled transition would be most beneficial in sense of how it provides a logical sense of scale of the more grander international, to the medium civic scale, to the smaller community scale, thus providing a variety of different uses that can be applied to this space as both a transitory experience and a permanent node. Splined through these developments are aspects of landscape and water to help break up the scalar transitions. The development that is built closer to the terminals serve more of a regional role, hotels, conference centers, offices, and the like, while it begins to transform to multi-family residential closer to Bremen Street and in addition the ground floor uses will change. This transition will be built along a series of paths connecting the terminal to Central and Maverick Squares in an urban way, fully integrating both systems. At the confluence of these paths a civic plaza that all the terminals will open to will possibly replace the parking garages, which in turn will be re-thought. Together with all of these elements I believe we can create a responsible urban environment that brings the airport back into the urban design realm and a space occupied by all.


12. Zukowsky, John, and Koos Bosma. Building for air travel: architecture and design for commercial aviation. Munich: Prestel ;, 1996. 177


Figure 23 - Master Plan for Stockholm Airport

Research Hypothesis I believe that a scaled urban development will help bridge the airport terminal complex to it’s surroundings and become a more responsible form of urbanism for future planning at existing airports. With this type of development, airports can become re-integrated with their arrival thresholds and allow for a more human scaled experience that will be a benefit to users of the airport, the regional community, and the begin to heal the scars left on East Boston residents.


“Wherever I go, I’m watching. Even on vacation, when I’m in an airport or a railroad station, I look around, snap pictures, and find out how people do things.” Richard Scarry





Bridging the Aero-Gap Mind Map

Where I Began

Airport as A City Mind-Map

Blurring the Airport Edge Collage

Initial Precedent Study

Study of Airport Surroundings





Overview of Logan Airport showing Empty Land

Site Analysis When choosing a site to focus my thesis intervention on I had several stipulations. The airport I chose had to have a terminal complex “open” to the urban environment rather than a complex surrounded by runways, realtivley close to an adjacent urban environment rather than out in the middle of nowhere, but still have a “junk space” gap that help bridge this airport to the urban environment it serves as a transportation node, and be an American airport. I chose Logan Airport in Boston due to it meeting all these requirements, my familiarity with it and the East Boston neighborhood, and that I would be easily able to analyze it due to its proximity. Other airports that could fall into this paradigm that I considered are TF Green Airport in Warwick, RI, Regan National Airport in Washington D.C., La Guardia Airport in New York City, Los Angeles International, or Seattle/Tacoma Airport. To begin my analysis I crafted an aerial montage of Logan Airport and part of East Boston to analyze the “junk space” created by the airport whether it be the unlandscaped safety zones between the runways and taxiways (in green) or parking lots and service areas (in red). In addition, I traveled to the airport again, looking at the terminal complex and surroundings from a different, more critical eye, rather than the usual get-in, get-out most commonly used at the airport. To begin, I timed the travel experience from the MFA stop to Terminal A via the Green Line, Blue Line, and Shuttle Bus. From there I walked through the entire terminal complex, noting passenger interactions, and then proceeded to attempt to walk to the T Stop via the airport landscape, documenting the experience and alien landscapes, the winding,high speed path that isolated me from what many people would believe is America’s “walking city”.


Arrival Roadway at Terminal A

Arrival Roadway at Terminal B


Arrival Roadway at Terminal C

Arrival Roadway at Terminal E



Site Aerial with my walk through the site (in red) from Terminal A to the MBTA Station.


Analysis showing the disconnect of public landscape in East Boston.

Diagram showing the single use of Massport owned buildings within the Logan boundary.


Diagram showing the large amount of barriers separating Massport owned land from East Boston and the airfield from the public space.

Diagram showing the pedestrian paths in and around Logan, showing the disconnect and random paths.



Diagrammatic Overlay of Logan Landfill on an 18th Century Map of Boston

East Boston Building Use Plan


East Boston Material Analysis


Logan Airport Material Analysis



Program Connections Diagram

Program Analysis Approaching program in a realtivley non-program space is especially challenging. Most of the existing program in this area is a junk space buffer: parking lots & garages, highway ramps, airport service zones, and parks. Massport specifically created these spaces as an appeasement towards the East Boston residents in the 1970’s, but has inadvertently, due to poor planning, made this divide worse. I decided to look at program through a scalar approach, looking at a sense of programs in theoretical zones based off my research in scale transitions and the model of the “typical” aerotropolis. I split the “non-place” into four scalar zones: community, civic, regional, and international. Community would relate to the scale of the existing East Boston neighborhood: family oriented, corner stores, tight-knit feel. Next is the civic scale with larger buildings, apartment style residences rather than triple deckers. Third is the regional scale with program starting to rely on a more transitory experience and reliance on drawing in regional connections. The final zone is the international zone where the scale is at its largest to relate to the terminals and tall control tower. A space that is international in scale and scope, but still responds to the tectonic of Boston.


Scalar Transition down an axial path.

Aerial view of the scalar transition model.


Detail of the Terminal Gateway Scale area.

Most common words used when asked what the survey respondent most wanted in the pre-security area of the airport.



Extending the Grid Diagram

Fall Design Probe When approaching how to design within this non-space, I was presented with many challenges as I have stated before: the airport boundary, neighborhood relations, discontinuities in street relationships, and more “empty� space that is readily graspable. One of the first things I did was attempt to expand my Program by looking at connections within the landscape of East Boston. I diagrammed how extensions of the street grid would appear on the Logan Landscape (in red), overlaid with direct view corridors to Central and Maverick Squares (in teal), and barriers created by the elevated highways (in yellow). My next step was to theoretically add four sets of scaled landscapes onto the empty space , two urban compared to two natural as a way to explore different design concepts. For my two urban interventions I inserted Longwood Medical Area as a scale between the terminals and community, and in the other one continued the East Boston residential typology. With landscape I inserted the water scale, making Logan Airport a complete island, and the other a forest making complete isolation. Moving into direct scale comparisons on how I could fit typical urban structures that Boston residents would be familiar with.


For this probe I wanted to see how a quiet literal buffer zone was put between Logan and East Boston in the form of a traditional New England forest, allowing residents and airport users direct access to two forms of nature, the forest and the harbor and fully isolating in terms of view and noise.


For this probe I wanted to see how it would appear if Logan was literally made an island as it is often metaphorically described and once was literally, most of the Logan area is landfill. This will allow almost all areas of East Boston to have waterfront property and still allow visual connections between the two elements.


For this probe I wanted to see how it would appear how the East Boston residential scaled grid in this space in order to maintain a more familiar urban landscape for the residents of East Boston. However, with this there is no easy transition between the much smaller scale of the triple decker to the massive terminals.


For this probe I wanted to see how a dense larger scale development would appear in this space. I chose the Longwood Medical Area as this example due to its larger floor plates and extreme dense conditions to provide a similar condition to East Boston, but in a more transitory scale from the massive terminals to the residential scale.


Wentworth Campus

Typical South End Block

Boston Convention Center

Scale Comparison Between Logan Airport Terminals & Wentworth Campus, South End Block, and the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.


Government Center

Christian Science Center

Kenmore Square

Scale Comparison Between Logan Airport Terminals & Government Center, Christian Science Center and Kenmore Square


North End

Boston Common & Public Garden

Beacon Hill

Scale Comparison Between Logan Airport Terminals & the North End and Beacon Hill neighborhoods as well as Boston Common & Public Gardens.


Copley Square

West Fenway


Scale Comparison Between Logan Airport Terminals & Copley Square, West Fenway including Fenway Park, and Longwood Medical Area.


“I think airports are places of huge human drama. The more I see of it, the more I am convinced that Heathrow is a secret city, with its own history, folklore and mythology. But what has surprised me is the love the people who work there feel for the place. Everyone seems to think they are plugged into something majestic.� Tony Parsons


Design Project



Final Parti Diagram


Midcrit Parti Diagram


First Parti Diagram Showing Intended Connections

Sketch of Potential on Porter Street

Second Parti Diagram Showing Proposed Developments

Third Parti Diagram Showing Extended Landscape Connections



Quad Landscaping Sketch

Zonal Parti Diagram

Concept of the “Active Garage” 50


to nsi




Neighborhood Zone


Framework Plan



rt Z









Connectivity An urban location is only as good as its active and passive connections. Part of the primary problem at Logan is its reliance on vehicle transportation whether that be personal cars, buses, limos, etc. There are no alternatives. It makes the city seem like a world away. This plan calls for the integration of a straightforward pedestrian path from the existing hub of commerce in East Boston, Central Square, to a new public square in the center of the terminal complex. Multiple branches spread from this axis leading to the Rental Car Center, East Boston Greenway, the Harborwalk, Ferry Terminal, and the MBTA station. The Blue and Silver Lines are brought into the terminal complex, allowing for multiple direct connection opportunities for all users.

A. Bridge Precedent (Helix Singapore)

B. Underpass Precedent (Scotland)

C. New Mid-Rise Street (University Park Cambridge)

D. Complete Street Precedent (Indianapolis Cultural Trail)

E. Greenway Connection Precedent (Hamburg)

F. Bridge Precedent (North Point Cambridge)

Closed Sidewalk on Harborside Drive

Barren fenced connection to East Boston









Density Currently Logan and its surrounding site lacks the typical density needed to sustain a livable community. It is currently dominated by single use buildings, empty parking lots, and highways. The plan infill’s these areas to create a cohesive urban environment separated into zones to respond to the neighboring environment of each section. The scale of density moves down from high density institutional and retail on top of the garages to more traditional townhouse and mid-rise mixed use buildings as the main axis intersects into the East Boston neighborhood. A. Garage Density Precedent (Union Station Master Plan)

B. Airport Density Precedent (Stockholm Arlanda Airport)

C. Medium-Density Precedent (South End, Boston)

D. Institutional Density Precedent (Vienna University)

E. Airport Density Precedent (Amsterdam Airport)

F. Airport Density Precedent (Manchester Airport)

Aerial showing the dramatic decrease in density within airport property

Central Garage structures showing massive single use buildings






Ecology Even though progress has been made in creating new parks and landscape in the past decade, the current park network is not accessible from the airport and barley accessible from the surrounding neighborhood. The plan integrates the existing Harborwalk, Greenway, Bremen Street Park, and Memorial Park into a cohesive landscape with the addition of landscape extending to Central Square and Logan Airport. The park at Logan is represented by a quad on the upper level of the garage and non-accessible retention buffer zones. Jefferies Cove is brought through the site to provide a buffer for the highways and give more access to water features. The landscape emphasizes environmental reuse and retention.

A. Park Activity Precedent (Diagonal Mar, Barcelona)

B. Sustainable Parking Garage Precedent (Vienna)

C. Green Roof Precedent (Northeastern)

D. Green Roof Precedent (Yokohama Port Terminal)

E. Campus Landscape Precedent (Harvard Allston Campus)

F. Reclaimed Marsh Precedent (IFAW Headquarters)

Porter Street the East Boston Tunnels entrance

Current 9/11 Memorial surrounded by Garages and Ramps






Activity The redevelopment of the Central Garage primarily focuses on creating an active space for both airport users and East Boston citizens, taking advantage of the large amount of space for multiple activities. Connecting to the airport skywalk network and bridge to East Boston, the activity level forms a series of streets with retail, entertainment and other services lining these streets. These streets flow into a central square with a performance stage, green area, seating, and a farmers market. At the end of this plaza is a conference center and welcome center serving as a global meeting place for academic conferences. Other major uses are a movie theatre, supermarket, ground transportation center and large format retail.

A. Logan Square Street Precedent (Buenos Aries)

B. Logan Square Precedent (Munich Airport)

C. Logan Square Street Precedent (Copenhagen)

D. Outdoor Cafe Precedent (San Francisco)

E. Multi-Use Transportation Node Precedent (South Station)

F. Transportation Hub Precedent (Gare de Orient, Lisbon)

Terminal A-E Connector

Typical Garage Condition









Campus The next layer above the street is a campus of Boston area satellite colleges containing regular and continuing education classes for residents and travelers. Each of these buildings open onto a common quad and share common services such as an fitness center, cafeteria, and career services. These buildings serve as the welcome for visitors to Boston focusing on the city’s cultural conception as an education city. The new park allows all user groups to experience passive and active landscapes within the airport environment. There will also be two hotels, one mainstream and one boutique. The path continues out to a terrace overlooking the airfield and harbor with a relocated and more accessible 9/11 Memorial.

A. University Street Precedent (Northeastern West Village)

B. Quad Precedent (Harvard Allston Campus)

C. University Building Precedent (Vienna University)

D. Quad Precedent (UMass Amherst)

E. University Street Precedent (University of Cincinnati)

F. Quad Precedent (University Park Cambridge)

A family finding a place to eat lunch in the skywalk system

Passengers waiting with the luggage outside an Au Bon Pain



Site Section



Terminal Complex Section


La Guardia Airport, Queens, NY

Midway Airport, Chicago, IL

San Francisco Airport, San Bruno, CA

Seattle/Tacoma Airport, Seatac, WA


Conclusions The proposal for Logan Airport is designed to be a prototype that can be applied to similar airport sites such as La Guardia Airport in New York, Chicago-Midway Airport, San Francisco Airport, or Seattle/Tacoma Airport. All of these airports, among many more, share similar characteristics of being older airports much closer to the urban realm, with horseshoe shaped terminal complexes, large central parking structures, and large empty buffer zones between the airport property and the surrounding neighborhoods. As a society we cannot let airports escape the grasp of responsible urban development, as we now know what the irresponsible style of development of the past half century has led to, large spaces devoted to a single purpose. We know of the environmental impacts these spaces create, and they are not helping the planet’s current environmental situation. It is my hope that we will begin to realize the opportunity that airports provide to our society as extremely important transportation nodes that, like train stations, can be transformed into multi-propose active spaces that are responsive to the urban environment and do not turn their back from it for simplicities sake. This I believe based on my research and project development is the next step in urban development.


All the airports kind of feel and look the same now. Some are more beautiful, some are less beautiful, but for the most part you’re going to find a Starbucks in every airport. You’re going to get your coffee and the ‘USA Today’ or ‘New York Times’ in every airport. Jason Reitman




Binney, Marcus. Airport Builders. Chichester, West Sussex: Academy Editions, 1999. Craford, Margaret. “Contesting The Public Realm: Struggles Over Public Space in Los Angeles� Journal of Architectural Education. 49.1 (1995) 4-9. Print. Galison, Peter. "Airport Beyond Airport." Lecture, Airport Landscape: Urban Ecologies in the Aerial Age from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA, November 15, 2013. Geuze, Adriaan. "Counteracting Stress Scape." Lecture, Airport Landscape: Urban Ecologies in the Aerial Age from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA, November 15, 2013. Girot, Christophe. "Wild Planes and Airfields." Lecture, Airport Landscape: Urban Ecologies in the Aerial Age from Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA, November 15, 2013. Guller, Mathis, and Michael Guller. From Airport to Airport City. Barcelona: Airport Regions Conference, 2001. Hesse, Markus. "The Mental Infrastructures of Airport-Urban Development." Lecture, Airport Landscape: Urban Ecologies in the Aerial Age from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA, November 15, 2013. Kasarda, John D., and Greg Lindsay. Aerotropolis: The Way We'll Live Next. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. Koolhaas, Rem. S, M, L, XL: small, medium, large, extra-large. 2nd ed. New York: Monacelli Press, 1998.


Bibliography Jacobs, Karrie. "Quick-Fix Urbanism: Are airports really the key to 21st-century economic development?." Metropolis 1 Feb. 2011: 34-35. Print. Lyster, Clare. “The Future of Mobility: Greening The Airport.” Design Observer. The Design Observer Group, 25 July 2013. Web. Marston, Sallie, John Paul Jones, and Keith Woodward. "Human Geography Without Scale." Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 30, no. 4 (2005): 416432. Massachusetts Port Authority. "History." Logan Airport. (accessed November 24, 2013) Nelkin, Dorothy. Jetport: The Boston Airport Controversy. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publisher, 1974. Street, A., and S. Coleman. “Introduction: Real and Imagined Spaces..” Space and Culture 15.1 (2012) 4-17. Print. Schultz, Anne-Catrin, and Timothy Hurlsey. Skidmore Owings & Merrill International Terminal, San Francisco International Airport. Fellbach: Edition Axel Menges, 2008. Print. Trancik, Roger. Finding Lost Space: Theories of Urban Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1986. Zukowsky, John, and Koos Bosma. Building For Air Travel: Architecture and Design for Commercial Aviation. Munich: Prestel; 1996.


Introduction In this sampling of sources I have decided to intensively research, I chose sources that vary from the aspects of terminal design to planning within the lost space created by this type of urban development. A common ground in most of these sources point to the airport being a perfect point for economic and urban catalysts, it’s just that there hasn’t been much of a political planning will to do so in a responsible way. The articles and books all seem to point at that lack of will and coordination, issues of scale and transition, the cultural construction of a gateway, and the harsh boundary between the airport and it’s environment. However most of the ones specifically about airports seem to focus just on the economic arguments or the terminal itself, which is why I started looking at books that dealt with urban design and transitions of scale. They all bring up good points on how there is a dichotomy regarding the airport in regards that people want to be near it and not be near it at the same time, which is a primary issue I will have to address with my thesis. Overall I believe these are good sources, but I will begin searching more on the topics of scale and cultural construction. Annotated Bibliography Baker, Douglas, and Robert Freestone. "Land Use Planning for Privatized Airports." Journal of the American Planning Association 78.3 (2012): 328-341. Print. This article provides interesting insight into understanding the politics and hindrances behind airport development and how they have been approaching the airport city in Australia, particularly with the perceived divide between airport planning and urban planning. Baker and Freestone argue for the promotion of the airport as a multi-functional hub rather than the mono-functional one they currently area and that city planning and airport planning should be integrated as a boost to urbanity and the economic situation of the airport. A particular note is how they mention that there is not much literature on this specific topic, a problem I have been running into myself. This source provides case studies and analysis on proposals by Australian airports, but not much on other airports outside the country. Cramer, Johannes, and Stefan Breitling.Architecture In existing fabric: planning, design, building. Basel [Switzerland: Birkhäuser, 2007. This source discusses the various ways it is possible to design with respect to the existing urban fabric, but still provide a new way of designing that respects what is there. The author’s use multiple case studies from across the world to prove their main idea that creative works of architecture are not just limited to new building design. They talk about historic re-use projects that dealt with works from the Middle Ages to the 1960’s. This is relevant to my topic as it regards dealing with existing buildings and the scale they provide in order to help me understand how to design in the scale transition zone of the existing terminals to the existing houses. Kasarda, John D., and Greg Lindsay. Aerotropolis: the way we'll live next. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. This source is one of the few published that is specifically about the economic development around airports. It is helpful because of how in depth it goes into his argument that the airport should be the economic center of a region in our modern age. While it does provide some interesting case studies, it does so with a biased view towards Kasarda (the leading expert on this type of development) on ideals, which are not the most urban and more of a master planned, Corbusian, approach to this type of urban design. It does not talk much about the actual living aspect, but is still a good overall source to see how many airports around the world are dealing with the airport problem and trying take advantage of the global connectivity they provide.


Annotated Bibliography Koolhaas, Rem. S, M, L, XL: small, medium, large, extra-large. 2nd ed. New York: Monacelli Press, 1998. This architectural standard reading by Koolhaas discusses projects in terms of their scale and cultural relationships, projects of his own doing and other architects. I took particular note on the Large and Extra-Large sections of this massive book as they dealt with projects on a scale similar to the airport terminal, which is one of the harder scale transitions I have in my thesis. I studied the EuroLile project and how Koolhaas approached the design of a new intermodal urban center within easy reach of three European capitals with the issues of scale and cultural construction. There also case studies of several other large railway stations that help me the idea of translating their urbanity of the distinctly urban train arrival sequence to the airport experience. Pearman, Hugh. Airports: a century of architecture. New York: H.N. Abrams, 2004. This source is similar to the Zukowsky source, but is a little more for the general audience. While it gives a history on overall airport design and the new challenges it created, there is one particular chapter called “Cities of Flight�. This chapter goes into a general overview of mainly the city like environment with the airport or the terminals themselves, focusing on Denver, Paris, Dallas, and Atlanta and how the terminals were designed to be pretty much cities within themselves. This source provides some interesting insight into how the terminals themselves were designed to be cultural gateways as well which will help me with understanding that part of my thesis. Trancik, Roger. Finding lost space: theories of urban design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1986. This source is particularly interesting because it deals with how to designed dealing with the newly empty space created particularly during the urban renewal process and highways building of the 1950s and 1960s and the inhuman spaces they created. The book uses well-documented case studies from Boston, Washington DC, and Sweden, both good and bad examples and how they could be fixed. There is also a section on the causes of these projects and some basic theories behind urban design. The mixture of case studies and theories are very helpful in helping me understand how I should approach the urban design thought of my thesis as the main idea I have is reconnecting the city through the lost space created by airport development. Zukowsky, John, and Koos Bosma. Building for air travel: architecture and design for commercial aviation. Munich: Prestel ;, 1996. This source discusses the nuances of designing for air travel and its respective history. While it is mostly a general overview of the subject for a general audience, it does have an interesting chapter on Airports in the Network City, which coincidentally starts off with a picture of Logan Airport. It gives a well-documented overview of the history of development around airports, how it was a Utopian vision in the early part of aviation history to the massive amounts of sprawl around most current day airports. Particular notice is given to the fact that airports arrived late to the urban game and many cities struggled with what to do with them. They also call for a strong connection to the city itself by multiple means of transit. There is also a chapter just on the airport city and its Utopian vision. The book overall is geared for architects and there is a good balance between pictures of examples and text, but not much analysis.


“The devil himself had probably redesigned Hell in the light of information he had gained from observing airport layouts.� Anthony Price




Neighborhood Scale Site Plan - 1:500 77

Existing Site Plan

City Scale Site Plan - 1:1300 78

Question 1: What city/town do you live in? Fairhaven, MA Jakarta, Indonesia Boston, MA Chelsea, MA Fairhaven, MA New Bedford, MA Quincy, MA New Haven, VT Groton, NH Hagerstown, MA Fairhaven, MA Nashua, NH Fairhaven, MA Boston, MA Fairhaven, MA Boston, MA Question 2: Which airport do you use the most? TF Green Airport (PVD) Soekarno-Hatta Jakarta International Airport (CGK) Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) TF Green Airport (PVD) Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) Knox County Regional Airport (RKD) Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) TF Green Airport (PVD) Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) Manchester Boston Regional Airport (MHT) TF Green Airport (PVD) Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)


Question 3: What means of transportation do you usually use to get to the airport?

Question 7: How early do you usually get to the airport if you are picking someone up?

Private Automobile: 16 Rental Car: 0 Limousine: 1 Airport Shuttle: 2 Public Transportation: 4 Taxi: 1 Walking/Biking: 0

5-10 Minutes: 4 10-20 Minutes: 7 20-30 Minutes: 6 More than 30 Minutes: 1

Question 4: About how many times do you typically fly each year? 0: 4 1-2: 8 3-4: 3 5-6: 2 7-8: 0 9-10: 0 More than 10: 1 Question 5: About how many times do you pick someone up at the airport? 0: 1 1-2: 11 3-4: 3 5-6: 2 7-8: 1 9-10: 0 More than 10: 0 Question 6: How early do you usually get to the airport before your flight? Les than 30 Minutes: 0 30 Minutes to 1 Hour: 1 1 – 1 ½ Hours: 4 1 ½ - 2 Hours: 9 2- 3 Hours: 4 More than 3 Hours: 0

Online Survey Results In order to gage what the transient users of the airport wanted from the pre-security areas of the airport I deceded to host an online survey. The survey asked the users several questions regarding their location to understand what airport structure they are most use to, how they get to the airport, and what they would like to see in the space outside the security zone of the airport, specifically if they are picking up people. As shown in the graphic in the program analysis section people seem to focus on food (reasonably priced), entertainment, engagement, green spaces, and comfort. They also brought up how dominating the single use structures such as the garage can be.

Question 8: What would you like to see more of in the pre-security areas of airport? Including areas in the terminal and outside. Dunkin Donuts Nap Pods, better food and waiting areas, close means of transportation, better organization of the spaces. Seating / Leisure areas for people waiting to check in or picking someone up. Also recycling bins... And clear access for alternative transport (bikes, sidewalks, public transportation, etc) Most airports lead out to a desolate car pick-up/drop off, so it could be nice to lead out to an integrated public space like a shopping center or perhaps a park that people would be using anyway. Noise control might be an issue though... More comfortable places to wait Inside: Interactive exhibits about local area, history, etc to browse while waiting. Outside: Designated/a heated areas for shelter for people waiting for pickup Baggage carts Reasonably priced food. I’m not even sure if Logan has food in an easily accessible area outside of security. Additionally, “cell phone” lots nearer to the terminals. (They’re basically small lots for short-term, vehicle occupied waiting to pick someone up) More transparency More food outside the terminal if you’re waiting. I do love the addition of the cell phone lot at airports (super helpful and helps the environment). More comfortable places to sit (I hate where you sit to pick up international flights). Spaces to eat. Waiting areas. Calming spaces. Areas with tables/ outlets to charge phones and computers; sometimes the outlets are in awkward locations which require users to sit on the floor in high traffic areas which is very unappealing Open green spaces, and less infrastructure and parking lots. I am satisfied with the level of security at airports right now. I even think they can be taken down a bit. Many airports in other parts of the world have less security precautions and they function just as well as.


Boston Airport - Mid 1940s

Logan Airport- Mid 1950s

Logan Airport & Approach Road - Late 1950s

Postcard of Logan Airport - Mid/Late 1950s


Historic Logan Photos

New Airport Service Areas, East Boston - Mid 1970s

Baseball Field facing the Airport

Logan Airport Approach Roads, 1960s

New Control Tower Under Construction - Mid 1970s 82

Desiging In The Non Space: Integrating Airports Into The Urban Realm