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Passengers to Be Pampered in New Airport Terminal

November 18, 1987|JEFFREY A. PERLMAN | Times Urban Affairs Writer

Two decades after Orange County opened its airport for the future, detailed models were presented Tuesday for a brand new John Wayne Airport passenger terminal.

Scheduled to open April 1, 1990, the $296.6-million terminal and parking facility will be the county's biggest-ever public works project. The terminal will feature three skylighted, metal-skinned vaults that are metaphors for fuselages, according to designer Andrew Cohen.

The existing 22,000-square-foot terminal, built in 1967, opened with two airlines and was supposed to serve the county's air travel needs far into the future. But it has been crowded for years and an embarrassment to local government.

'Eddie Martin's Airport'

The new building's open and spacious interior--about as different as possible from the current terminal--will use stone materials, palms and other landscaping. The overall effect will be a combination of a hotel atrium lobby and a shopping mall with terraced restaurants--a far cry from the barns and dirt runway of "Eddie Martin's Airport," which became Orange County Airport in 1940.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday November 19, 1987 Orange County Edition Metro Part 2 Page 2 Column 5 Metro Desk 2 inches; 52 words Type of Material: Correction
A graphic in Wednesday's Times illustrating plans for a new terminal at John Wayne Airport described the upper level of the structure and upper roadway as being for arrivals and the lower for departures. Actually, the upper level is for passengers catching flights departing Orange County; the lower level is to accommodate arrivals--passengers on incoming flights.

Big, low-slung parking garages, like giant wings at rest, will flank the 337,900-square-foot terminal. A 400-foot gap between them will provide a clear view of the terminal from MacArthur Boulevard.

Two airline ticketing areas, connected by a central court, will be at either end of the structure. Fourteen aircraft gates and passenger lounges will be behind the ticketing area, security checkpoints and central court.

The court, described by the architects as a "meet and greet" area, will be in the form of a square placed so that one corner points outward toward MacArthur Boulevard, creating a glass-enclosed, visual "greeting" to people at street-level. John Wayne's statue will be located in the court.

"The openness, the light and the landscaping will give arriving passengers a feeling of Orange County," said Jack Spak, senior project adviser for one of three firms working with lead architect Leason Pomeroy and his staff.

The models unveiled Tuesday include four baggage carousels compared to the one conveyor belt now in use.

The new terminal will be much closer to the San Diego Freeway than the existing building, requiring new access roads.

A two-level roadway will bring arriving traffic to the upper level of the terminal, which will be the flight departure area. Arriving passengers will leave the airport from the lower level.

With terminal construction only months away, project officials are negotiating with Caltrans for special freeway ramps to move airport traffic to and from the Costa Mesa Freeway without use of MacArthur Boulevard or the San Diego Freeway, both next to the facility.

A new entrance at Michelson Drive will supplement the existing entrances on Campus Drive and MacArthur Boulevard.

Pomeroy, hired by the Board of Supervisors earlier this year, said the project--financed through sale of airport revenue bonds--was "challenging and rewarding," but he credited a special design team for most of the work. "You could say that it would be difficult to fail," Pomeroy said, referring to the existing terminal. "Anything would be an improvement."

The models unveiled Tuesday pleased members of the board, who have been under pressure from both airlines and from Newport Beach residents. The airlines have sued to expand service while the neighbors, citing concerns about noise and traffic, sued to block expansion.

Designed to handle 400,000 passengers annually, the existing airport now has nine airlines that last year served 4.1 million passengers. Under terms of a 1985 out-of-court settlement of a noise and traffic lawsuit filed by Newport Beach against the county, the new facility can serve a maximum of 8.4 million passengers annually--below the 10.84 million originally proposed by county supervisors, and not even close to the 11-million-passenger market predicted for the county in 1990, or the 22 million expected by 2005.

Supervisors praised the design.

"My friend John Wayne would be pleased and you know where he's located," said an exuberant Supervisor Thomas F. Riley, referring to the late movie actor and Newport Beach resident for whom the airport is named.

"It will be one of the most prestigious airport terminals in the world," predicted Riley, whose district includes the airport and who made the new facility his major goal before retiring. "I'm on an emotional high."

Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez said: "It's a very exciting design. It integrates a lot of facilities in an attractive and aesthetic look."

Supervisor Don R. Roth added: "I've traveled all over, to places like Japan and Korea, and you know, they could always boast that they had the most modern airports. And when visitors come here, they say this is a great place, but how do you explain your rotten airport? The new design will give us something to be proud of. Just the baggage-handling improvements alone will be worth it. You won't have to jump up and down like a yo-yo just to find your bags."

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