LaGuardia, NYC’s smallest airport–known throughout the world as “that airport with the lone water fountain that’s perpetually out of order, and the Auntie Anne’s that refuses to bake enough normal f*)#ing pretzels)–will receive a $4 billion makeover courtesy of a team of architecture and development firms including Vantage Airport Group, Skanska, Meridiam Infrastructure, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Walsh, and HOK.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the construction will break ground this year, and the first half of the project will be completed by 2019.
The plan’s basic approach is to combine LaGuardia’s small, independent terminals into one “grand unified terminal” that’s presumably filled with more modern amenities than each of the piecemeal terminals have now. It will also be better connected to rail and ferry transportation. For this unification to happen, Terminal B will be razed, and an island gate system–basically a series of pedestrian bridges–will connect the existing terminals together. The bridges will float over nearby streets to create two miles of new space for taxis, which when combined with the fact that LaGuardia airport will be moved 600 feet closer to the Grand Central Parkway, should alleviate motor traffic. But most importantly, the new layout will also make more room for planes to ease flight congestion.
Our only concern is that, while LGA is a universally despised airport, it’s actually great at getting you in and out quickly. Its independent terminal structure lacks amenities, sure, but its TSA lines tend to be brisk, and hoofing it to your gate takes no time at all. If you can look past the awkward bathrooms, lack of food and drink after security, and the ever-boarded-up walls that seem to be moments from caving in, LaGuardia offers a rare, streamlined experience of air travel. And hopefully, the Grand Unified Terminal doesn’t destroy that.