The gateway to Thailand got a sleek, shining makeover last month with the opening of Bangkok’s new Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Designed by Chicago-based Murphy/Jahn Architects, the megaplex-like, glass-and-steel monolith comprises more than 6 million square feet on nine floors, making it the largest terminal in the world—ready to welcome even the double-decker Airbus A380, should it ever make its much-ballyhooed debut. Stone Buddhist "guardians" (symbolic keepers of passenger entrances into Thailand) adorn the causeways, and outdoor spaces are shaded from the hot Thai sun by steel roof trellises. There’s free 24-hour shuttle service into downtown Bangkok, and starting in 2007 an Air Rail train will make eight stops in the city. The 120 gates will host British Airways, United, Thai Airways, Japan Air Lines, and the Star Alliance; expect a half-dozen more to be runway-ready come spring.
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