'Tech Campus' designs airport's future

By Daniel Silliman


At an intersection of hallways, in a field of cubicles, a man unfolds a black and white map. Next to him, a man in a short-sleeve shirt pokes his finger at the unfolded paper.

"What are you doing about the bridge?" he says.

Inside a cubicle, down the hall, a detailed drawing of a proposed airport terminal is pinned to the inside wall, above a clean desk. Across from the cubicle, a large, green and brown photograph of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport hangs on the wall.

The Hartsfield-Jackson Program and Development Bureau, on Airport Loop Road, is posted just outside the Atlanta airport, stationed between the earthen wall surrounding the runways, and the interstate.

Inside the 55,000-square-foot building, the future designs of the airport are being drawn out. The building, constructed in 2001, houses the 106 planners and engineers, and the ever-fluctuating number of consultants, who are designing the future look of Hartsfield.

In a room called "Airbus," men -- all of them are men -- are working on the designs for the new, international terminal.

In the hallway, the two men looking at the map are working on the automated people mover, running from the airport to the consolidated rental car facilities.

All over the building, people are working on the details of the $6 billion capital-improvement project.

"When you're talking about a $6 billion development, there's a lot of stuff that has to get done," said Matt Davis, an engineer at Programs and Development. "To keep everything moving takes a lot of people."

Though the physical airport isn't visible from the "Tech Campus," representations of the airport -- in its present and future forms -- are scattered throughout the building.

In the entryway, there are miniature models of the automated people mover, the rental car facilities, a multi-story parking lot and a series of runways.

The building is the centralized location for the project development of the busiest airport in the world, and a group of designers whose design for a fifth runway became reality last year, and who recently triumphed with the new, end-around taxiway.

"Planning," said Davis, motioning to the left side of the building and explaining the department, "sets a lot of the framework for what's needed, and then, designing comes up with the schematic ideas of how that can be accomplished."

The building also sees a lot of smaller, less glamorous projects, including, recently, the design for dog kennels for the security K-9s, an expansion of the waste facility, disposing of airport waste, and a fire station.

"There's a lot of little projects," Davis said. "The list is endless."