Airport terminals across the U.S. are becoming better places to visit. Here, a snapshot of the latest developments.
Credit: Rien Van Rijthoven

Food: O’Hare installed 28 beehives on unused land and expects to harvest 700 pounds of honey this year; soon you’ll find it at O’Hare and Midway. Look for Taste of Pat LaFrieda—which uses ingredients from New York’s king of ground beef—as well as the new Balthazar pastry case at Bisoux Market, both in LaGuardia’s Terminal D. In San Francisco, T2’s Napa Farms Market showcases such local favorites as Cowgirl Creamery and Tyler Florence’s Rotisserie & Wine.

Art: At Raleigh-Durham, thousands of signatures of area residents were incorporated by local artist Dunne Dittman into an LED-lit glass installation. San Jose is a showcase for interactive art, with Chronos and Kairos, a ceiling-mounted piece that responds to the movements of the passengers walking below. In San Francisco’s T2, the Butterfly Wall by Charlie Sowers lets you control the movement of 20 acrylic butterflies.

Seating: OTG Management’s café-style gate seating can be found at JFK Terminals 2 and 3 and LaGuardia’s Terminal D, while San Jose’s Zenky chairs dispense fresh air from vents beneath the seats and have individual power outlets.

Technology: IPads are colonizing airports. OTG Management’s Media Bars will rent out news- and entertainment-loaded iPads, complete with return mailers, beginning at Minneapolis/St. Paul next year. Less conspicuous is the next generation of baggage-handling systems, like the one Siemens just installed at LAX’s T5, which x-rays bags and checks for explosives, making it possible to remove the clunky machines that clog ticketing areas.

Architecture: Interestingly, the one notable trend is wood. Raleigh-Durham’s year-old Terminal 2, by Fentress Architects, is the first major airport with a wooden-truss structure. The Jackson Hole, Wyoming, airport, which opened in 2010, and the newly completed Portland, Maine, expansion—both by Gensler—are studies in timber.

  • By Jennifer Coogan
  • By Tom Samiljan
  • By Nate Storey
  • By Nikki Goldstein
By Jennifer CooganTom SamiljanNate Storey and Nikki Goldstein