The replacement terminal for Duluth International Airport creates a dynamic first impression to the port city of Duluth and the region. This commercial airport serves travelers from northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada.
The architecture draws inspiration from local forms, materials, and landscaping that is native to the environment. The design of the landside lobby roof is a metaphor for the waves of Lake Superior. The deep reddish cladding on the service core is symbolic of the steel hulls on the freighters and ships that navigate the Great Lakes. And the striking geometric pattern on the terrazzo floor is an artistic reference to the lines formed by the cracking of ice on frozen lakes and rivers. Interior glass incorporates etched images of birch trees, similar to that seen in the north woods around Duluth. Natural light bathes the terminal interior to enhance the human experience and as a passive sustainable design feature.
RS&H provided architectural, engineering, planning, and environmental services for the new terminal. It was designed to LEED Silver standards with sustainable green energy features, including geothermal heating, natural lighting, and a highly efficient water system. From project conception, team members collaborated to create the most efficient and sustainable heating and cooling system possible without compromising occupant comfort during harsh winter months. Features include a triple-glazed "acoustic curtain wall" and a radiant "airfloor" incorporating underfloor cavities for distribution of fresh air in larger public spaces. As a result of a geothermal well that meets 75% of heating requirements and 100% of cooling loads, operators expect to achieve a 3.19-ton reduction in CO2 emissions over the system's projected 40-year life. The Duluth International Airport terminal won the 2013 ENR Midwest Region Best Project award in the Airports/Transit category.
An airside hold room features large open spaces bathed in natural light. The core between airside and landside space is a three-story stack of services, offices, baggage facilities and information technology support rendered as an opaque mass. The landside glass pavilion, offers a simple, logical allocation of space for arriving and departing passengers to utilize. This pavilion is a sculptural porch and gestural roof that projects the occupant into the larger scale of nature, the Great Lakes, the horizon and the sky.