Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently joined the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) to celebrate the grand opening of the new eastern extension of Terminal 5, a major milestone in the $1.3B, four-year investment to expand and modernize the key gateway at O'Hare International Airport.
“O’Hare is a significant economic engine for our entire region and the first impression of Chicago for millions of visitors every year,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “That's why we are especially proud to cut the ribbon to this expanded, modernized Terminal 5, which represents a major milestone in O’Hare’s curb-to-gate transformation into one of the great airports of the 21st century under the O’Hare 21 capital improvement program. Importantly, this project will also build on my administration’s and CDA's ongoing commitment and efforts to create equitable, economic opportunities for Black and Brown residents, businesses, and construction and development firms.”
Designed by HOK and Muller & Muller Ltd, the light-filled redesign of the facilities maintains the integrity of the terminal’s original 1993 design while modernizing it for the 21st century. The vaulted ceilings welcome natural light and offer views across the airfield toward the Chicago skyline. The L-shaped East Concourse extension added 10 new wide-body gates, nine of which utilize multiple aircraft ramp systems, or “MARS gates.” These MARS gates allow the flexibility to accommodate larger, next-generation wide-body aircraft or more traditional narrow-body aircraft. The space it takes to park two wide-body planes can be repurposed as necessary to fit three narrow-body aircrafts.
Ten renovated gates opened in the western wing of Terminal 5 in October 2022 as the new home for Delta Air Lines, which shifted operations from the carrier's long-time home in Terminal 2. Delta's move also included the construction of a new Delta Sky Club, located between Gates M11 and M14, with more than four times the capacity of its former club in Terminal 2. Chicago’s Sky Club is also Delta’s first to feature boarding on select flights from two gates inside the lounge.
The expanded and renovated areas of Terminal 5 will also be home to a wide array of new concessions. Set to open in phases throughout 2023, local offerings will include Butcher and the Burger, Hampton Social, Bar Siena, Sparrow Coffee, and more.
Partnering with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), the redesign includes a public art plan that represents the city’s largest single acquisition of works by Chicago artists in 30 years. Commissions are planned across the FIS Arrival Corridor, the Baggage Claim area, and the Passenger Level Concourse.
Work began on the modernization and expansion back in 2019, with construction led by general contractor joint venture Austin Power Partners. The project increased the terminal’s capacity by 25% to improve efficiency and reduce delays. Passenger amenity space was increased by 75%, and the existing building was expanded by approximately 350,000 square feet, with additional renovations to 750,000 square feet of the existing structure.
In June 2022, work also began on a new six-story parking garage for Terminal 5, set to replace the current surface Parking Lot D. Set to complete in 2024, it will more than double the amount of available parking and include short- and long-term parking options. The garage will include parking assist technology and EV charging stations.