Dulles Airport Main Terminal Rehabilitation Chantilly Virginia

Dulles Airport Main Terminal Rehabilitation

Balfour Beatty, in a joint venture, completed an expansion and renovation contract at Washington Dulles International Airport. We provided improvements and additional space to accommodate the traveling public and upgraded the baggage handling system.

Balfour Beatty, in a joint venture, completed an expansion and renovation contract at Washington Dulles International Airport. We provided improvements and additional space to accommodate the traveling public and upgraded the baggage handling system.

Chantilly, VA
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
Year Completed
Market Type
General Contracting

Taking Flight on the Dulles Airport Main Terminal Rehab 

Balfour Beatty, in a joint venture, completed this award-winning expansion and renovation contract at Washington Dulles International Airport (Dulles). Evaluated and selected based on both technical and price factors, the team provided construction services for the Main Terminal Rehab / Southeast Baggage Basement / East Basement Extension project. The project provided improvements and additional space to accommodate the traveling public and upgraded the baggage handling system to accommodate the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s (MWAA’s) ongoing expansion at Dulles.

Construction included three major components: 1) the south baggage basement, 2) east baggage basement, and 3) baggage tunnels and main concourse renovation. The south baggage basement work involved demolition of existing commuter gates and construction of a 95,000-square-foot subsurface baggage conveyance facility, as well as replacement of airfield paving south of the main terminal. Work in the east baggage basement involved the demolition of existing site features and construction of a new 30,000-square-foot inbound baggage handling facility for United Airlines. Baggage tunnel and main concourse work involved construction of 600 linear feet of cut-and-cover baggage tunnels beneath the existing main terminal (literally within only a few feet of the traveling public on the other side of a temporary construction partition) and replacement of existing ticket kiosks and baggage claim facilities. Balfour Beatty’s strength in construction and experience in managing large airport projects combined with expertise in demolition, hazardous materials abatement, and interior finishes were applied to this expansion and renovation project. The main terminal is a historic building designed by the noted architect Eero Saarinen.

Tie Into an Existing Central Utility Plant

Work included extensive modification to the Main Terminal's existing high temperature hot water supply and return system loop, including reconfiguration, new heat exchangers, and upgrades. Similar work was performed on the chilled water supply and return system. Both the hot and chilled systems are fed from an existing Central Utility Plant, which remained in operation without interruption of critical services to occupied areas.

Fixed Mechanization System Description

As part of this major reconstruction there was a phased replacement of the entire inbound and outbound baggage handling conveyor system for the Main Terminal. Inbound systems were point-to-point lines from new stripping belts to large passenger baggage claim devices. Outbound systems were multiple lines with individual merges to common carrier lines. The project included the fit-out of the South Bag basement addition with an automated baggage sortation system, controlled by fixed scanners / programmable logic controllers.

Complex Renovation Around an Occupied Facility

The project involved complex renovation within, under, and around the fully operational main terminal. Complex systems were re-routed, including baggage conveying, HVAC, electrical, security systems, telecommunication ductbanks and fiber-optic cabling. A high degree of complexity was involved when the team installed a 600-foot-long cast-in-place concrete baggage tunnel beneath the existing main terminal. Structural modifications were required to the existing structure without the benefit of as-built drawings. Extensive probing, test pitting and other means of investigation prior to start of work were beneficial toward properly planning the work.
Logistics planning was critical – for how to separate construction from the public (i.e., physical barriers); re-routing of the public to maintain proper access and egress; access in and out of the construction areas; and noise and dust control. Temporary partitions and barriers were used to maximize effectiveness for particular situations, and some operations occurred during off-hours to accommodate the needs of the airport and the safety and convenience of the public.

Innovative Rock Removal 

Considering the building site’s adjacency to the airport’s historic main terminal, as well as its critical aircraft and mobile lounge movement areas, it was decided that drilling/blasting would not be utilized for rock removal. Unique techniques were implemented for the rock excavation required for the construction of the new South Basement; excavation was performed using two 130-ton, 600-horsepower trenchers, operating in tandem. This provided a safe and innovative alternative solution to traditional drilling/blasting methods.
Surrounded on all four sides by active airport operations, the South Basement’s foundation work required excavation/removal of approximately 130,000 cubic yards of rock.

Extensive Security Measures 

Working within a 24/7 operating Washington, D.C., airport required extensive security precautions. Our team was underway on the project at the time of the events of 9/11, leading to even more stringent security precautions. The increased precautions were embraced by the team and the project work continued smoothly. A few examples of security precautions include:
  • All of our team’s employees and subcontractor personnel were badged through a screening process with the FAA
  • Deliveries and large equipment were restricted to the use of a remote gate and were subject to inspection
  • Any attempts to escort delivery vehicles, work trucks, service trucks, etc., had to be preceded by review and approval of the Balfour Beatty security officer

Additional Projects

Balfour Beatty has completed two other projects at Dulles Airport.
The West ATS Station and 15 Gate Expansion
This project involved a two-story, below-grade Airport Train System Station with platform and mezzanine levels at Washington Dulles International Airport. Also included in the scope was the addition of a new 15-gate, 680-foot expansion to Concourse B to provide additional hold rooms and aircraft boarding gates.
Concourse B Four Gate Addition
This 440-foot-long expansion to the Midfield Terminal's B Concourse included renovations to the existing concourse and airline lounges, and building-wide security system upgrades.