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Feature 091514 VOXXI

Monday, September 15, 2014 

Mexico City's New Airport - Something Of and For the Future 

By Erick Lappin (VOXXI*) 

A futuristic design that looks like something from a science fiction movie, with inspiration taken from the Mexican flag, has been approved for the new Mexico City international airport. 

Mexican authorities unveiled the $9.2 billion project (earlier this month) in hopes of building the largest and busiest terminal of Latin America, with a design like no other in the world. The ambitious project is a masterpiece crafted by famous architects Norman Foster from England, and Mexican Fernando Romero. 

Foster is renowned for his exuberant work in the Beijing airport, Chek Lap Kok airport in Hong Kong, and London’s Wembley Stadium. Romero, who is a son-in-law of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, designed Slim’s Museo Soumaya. 

They joined forces to create six runways, one entrance structure, and one terminal that combined resembles the iconography of the Mexican flag on a total surface area of 11,400 acres. 

A cacti garden will be at the very entrance, reminding travelers of the plant in the Mexican flag. The main entrance building will have elements that resemble the snake hunted by the eagle in the flag, while the airy, lightweight looking roof of the terminal symbolizes the eagle spreading its wings. 

This architectural project is the first airport design that qualified for the Leed Platinum Award. Its green concept includes 24 water plants, a system of natural ventilation with minimal heating only half of the year, and modern residue processing systems. 

The designers took into account that the region is subject to frequent earthquakes and the soil is basically a lakebed. 

This airport is the first of its kind in the world according to Foster. It won’t have vertical walls or conventional columns and roof. 

It will be built on government owned lands near to the existing Benito Juarez International Airport in the east flank of the city. It will have 95 boarding gates around a single terminal. Such design is expected to optimize services, lowering costs and boosting tourism. 

Five huge concourses inside the terminal will be filled with stores, recreational centers and art exhibitions. 

“We show a model that will be an inspiration for future airports, which would be efficient, operationally flexible for the future, and above all, beautiful and a great experience,” said Foster in an interview. 

President Enrique Peña Nieto said in the unveiling that three runways would be ready by 2020 to receive 50 million passengers a year. 

At full operation, the terminal will receive 120 million travelers per year, which quadruples Benito Juarez International Airport’s current capacity. 

The Mexican government was forced to cancel a previous new airport project under the Vicente Fox administration in 2002. Back then, the government offered 70 cents per square meter of land to which the people responded with violent demonstrations and 19 officials taken hostages. 

Federico Patiño, who is the financial director of the new project, said that the government would fund the initial phase of construction from the $634 million the Benito Juarez airport generates in revenues per year. Private investors will fund the following stages in the form of 30-year bonds.

This article was originally published by VOXXI as "Plans for a new Mexico City airport are like nothing you’ve seen before," on Sep. 4, 2014, and reposted per a Creative Commons authorization.
* "VOXXI is an independent voice for Hispanic America.... (Its) goal is to become 'The Voice of the Hispanic 21st Century….'”

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