A preview tour of the new terminal at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport on Sunday revealed a building filled with light, featuring an outdoor courtyard and much more space, and designed with an eye toward the future.
The new terminal, which will officially open Nov. 1, is considered the “gateway to the community” and was designed by RS&H to reflect architecture found throughout the county, particularly buildings at vineyards.
It’s similar to an airplane hangar or a large barn, constructed with modern, industrial materials with windows looking out to the surrounding city and hills. The floor is brown with stripes of teal blue here and there, which calls the coastline to mind.
The building was designed so that authorities can expand it to suit the needs of the community; walls are non-load-bearing, so they can be easily moved around if necessary, and the outdoor courtyard passengers walk through after the security checkpoint can be enclosed if needed.
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Pieces of planes are incorporated into the terminal; parts of a tail and wing of a Gulfstream jet have been transformed into an art piece that greets passengers as they enter the airport, and the information desk is made out of a part of a Boeing 747 jet.
The 56,000-square-foot terminal, which has been under construction since 2015, is almost 45,000 square feet larger than the existing terminal at the airport, according to a news release.
The expanded security checkpoint area will include a full-body scanner, in addition to a walk-through magnetometer scanner, so passengers won’t have to endure physical pat-downs if one machine goes down. The checkpoint will also be open all the time, according to Airport Director Kevin Bumen. Currently, the security checkpoint at the airport is only open before a bank of flights is scheduled to leave.
After security, passengers walk through an open-air courtyard, which includes a pet relief area.
“It’s a really nice part of the experience,” Bumen said. “You can go outside and get some fresh air.”
Then, passengers go into a light-filled gate area, which includes a concession stand that will serve coffee, beer, wine and a full bar, in addition to food, Bumen said.
Bumen said that the airport has seen the passenger load triple since the airport added flights to Seattle and Denver earlier this year, and that growth is driven by the planes having more seats to fill. The new terminal can handle about 1.2 million passengers per year, according to Bumen, though he emphasized that that figure is a “soft number” and the terminal could accommodate more.
Bumen said the airport currently expects to see about a half-million total passengers over the next year.
The building, which cost $39.5 million, will open for incoming flights on the evening of Nov. 1, according to a news release. Departing passengers will start using the check-in lobby, security checkpoint and gates on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 2.