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Record growth at the San Diego International Airport spurred the need to replace the existing Terminal 1 facility, providing the Airport with the opportunity to transform the campus with new roadways, ground transportation plaza, passenger processing terminal, passenger concourse and a new parking plaza.

Building off the success of the Terminal 2 Parking Plaza, Watry Design was brought on board the design-build team for this extensive transformation to once again deliver on the Airport's vision for a parking plaza that would elevate the passenger experience.

The Terminal 1 Parking Plaza (T1PP) will provide space for 5,221 cars on five levels. To blend the two million square foot building with the new terminal, metal louvers will transform shadows across the facade to evoke the San Diego cliffs.

Landscaped lightwells will guide passengers from their vehicles to the terminal, and provide ample natural light throughout the structure. The lightwells also mitigate the need for costly expansion joints that would otherwise be necessary for a facility of this size.

During the validation phase, Watry Design worked closely with Turner and the Airport to solve phasing challenges for this progressive design-build project. As an existing roadway passes through the footprint for the new facility, a new road needed to be constructed before the existing could be demolished. This combined with other construction logistics for the Terminal 1 replacement meant that only the western half of the site would be available for construction.

Therefore, the team developed a phasing plan that would deliver the T1PP in two stages. Stage 1 will consist of 2,285 stalls and serve as a fully functioning facility without depending on features, systems or elements of Stage 2, which will consist of 2,396 stalls.

As prescribed in Turner’s contract, following the validation phase Watry Design would be partnered with a Design Builder to complete the parking plaza. Swinerton was ultimately selected, allowing the Swinerton and Watry team to leverage their previous experience working together on the award-winning Terminal 2 Parking Plaza. Like the Terminal 2 Parking Plaza, T1PP will feature an elevated technology experience that will allow passengers to reserve parking in advance and provide real-time parking information that helps guide users to an available space. Speed ramps will provide efficient vehicle circulation, and drive aisles oriented from north to south will create a natural separation between vehicles entering from the north and pedestrians heading south towards the terminal.

As sustainability is a high priority for the Airport, the project is pursuing Parksmart Gold. In addition to ample EV charging stalls and reserved parking for clean air vehicles, a sophisticated stormwater management system will allow the Airport to capture and reuse more than 39 million gallons of rain annually.

Project Details

  • Owner: San Diego Regional Airport Authority
  • Design Architect: Gensler
  • Contractor: Turner (Terminal 1), Swinerton (Parking Plaza)
  • Project Status: Construction
  • Parking Stalls: 5,221
  • Levels: 5
  • Total Sq Ft: 1,998,602
  • Sq Ft per Stall: 383
  • Total Project Cost: $224,000,000
  • Per Stall Cost: $43,077