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Building a More Sustainable LAX

The Great Hall at the newly-expanded Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX.
The Great Hall at the newly-expanded Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. | Photo: Elson Trinidad

This past week, Los Angeles International Airport got a $1.9 billion, 1.2 million square foot upgrade with the much-anticipated opening of the Great Hall and South Concourse of its newly-expanded Tom Bradley International Terminal.

From a visual standpoint, the renovated terminal looks remarkable. The rigid, right angles and grid-like aesthetics of the original 1984 terminal now give way to a Pacific Ocean wave-inspired design with sweeping, curved rooflines and windows that invoke more natural sunlight. Inside, the curved, angled ceilings and large window panels also evoke familiar iconic landmarks like the Hollywood Bowl, The Getty Center, and the adjacent LAX Theme Building. The visually stunning and interactive Integrated Environmental Media Systems (IEMS), made up of multiple LED panels and LCD screens are one of the unique highlights of the terminal. And the over 60 retail and dining establishments bring an upscale shopping mall experience to the airport.

Natural sunlight illuminates the newly-expanded LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal.
Natural sunlight illuminates the newly-expanded LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal. | Photo: Elson Trinidad

From a user perspective, the more spacious waiting areas are a refreshing change from the cramped claustrophobic quarters of the old gates still operating on the terminal's east side, which will eventually be demolished and replaced with new ones by 2015. All of the new amenities will continue and enhance the airport's role as an emotional gateway for travelers, visitors, and immigrants alike.

The 21st century design of the updated international terminal also calls to attention one aspect that didn't yet exist in the 1980s: environmental sustainability. According to Los Angeles World Airports, the city-run agency that administers LAX, the new Bradley Terminal is designed to achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Recycled building materials used during construction of the new LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal are part of the sustainable methods used in the facility.
Recycled building materials used during construction of the new LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal are part of the sustainable methods used in the facility. | Photo: Los Angeles World Airports

For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

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