Redesigning Logan Airport


Max Ingersoll

Gates to the Water is a redesign of Boston's Logan International Airport that prioritizes the experience of the traveler. I wanted to challenge the assumption that waiting in an airport has to be an unpleasant, isolating, experience. The whole design of the terminal is focused on the beautiful Boston Harbor.


Max Ingersoll


The fourth session of the NuVu Studio fall trimester challenged students to redesign Boston’s Logan International Airport. Husni Idris, an expert in airport design, and Saeed Arida, an MIT-trained architect and co-founder of NuVu, led the session as coaches. The coaches showed examples of new, cutting-edge airport designs, such as: New Doha International Airport in Qatar; Bengaluru International Airport in Bangalore, India; and New Lisbon International Airport in Lisbon, Portugal. The group discussed what elements made each of these modern airports interesting and unique. These elements included interesting geometry, soaring canopy ceilings with lots of natural light and glass, new environmental and green technologies, and more attention to the users’ experience. These airports have become famous landmarks in each of these cities.

Students and coaches spent a full day at Logan Airport observing how the airport worked, including what worked well and what needs improvement. For instance, the group noted some dark narrow passageways that felt unpleasant and made it more difficult for visitors to get where they needed to go. They liked the high ceilings and natural light, public art installations, and wooden panelling in some of the terminals.

Back at NuVu Studio, the students split up into groups of four to tackle the design challenge of redesigning Logan. Max, Gina, Reilly, and Zach’s group decided they liked Terminal A and Terminal E with its high ceilings and feeling of airiness, but they wanted to eliminate Terminals B and C, because these terminals felt inefficient and cramped. Each of the team members then worked independently to create their own plan for Logan. When they came back together, they reviewed each others’ plans and decided which they wanted to use as the basis for the groups’ redesign. 

The group selected Max’s plan with its two new base terminals connected in a semi-circular design, and its three terminal satellites all connected with a underground monorail electric train. Next, the team divided up the specific design jobs. Zach worked on the pedestrian traffic programming to see what visitor capacity the new design could handle and if traffic would flow smoothly. Gina and Reilly each worked on designing a different satellite terminal. Max’s job was to design the two base terminals (A and B) and one of the satellite terminals. He used Sketchup to make a large half circle and put jetways connecting planes to the terminals. Saeed advised Max to scrap semi-circular design and instead they came up with an idea for the satellite terminal. They decided that to instead make a building that had a large glass wall facing Boston Harbor so that passengers would have a view of the ocean while waiting for flights. 

Max had a lot of work done by the end of the first week on the new design but then Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast and NuVu was closed for the first two days of the second week of the session. When they got back to NuVu, the team knew that they had to get a lot done in the remaining three days. Max had most of the structure of his terminal finished but he still had to add everything inside the building. In the last days, Max finished his satellite terminal but did not have enough time to complete the design of the base terminals.


Gates to the water