Chicago O’Hare was one of the first terminal silhouettes I drew. While I generally like how it turned out, I’ve learned a lot of techniques from the dozens of terminals I’ve drawn since then. For a while, I’ve wanted to redraw ORD from scratch and try to recreate a better version of it.
Earlier this year, ORD opened an expansion to Terminal 3/Concourse L, adding another five gates (L20–L24). I’d watched its construction progress from the windows of the old Concourse L, and first got to walk through it in April.
With this extra expansion, my terminal silhouette was now out of date. With CLT (which I also recently updated for a concourse expansion) I simply edited the drawing; however, with ORD, I decided to use this as my opportunity to redraw the silhouette from scratch.
I learned a few things from my new drawing.
First, I’d always assumed that the entrances to Terminals 1, 2, and 3 (labeled below) formed half of a regular hexagon around the passenger drop-off/pick-up loops, which would mean that the terminals had 120° angles between them. However, T1 and T2 formed a 115° angle, and T2 and T3 were only at 110°. This also means that despite my prior assumptions, concourses B and C are not quite parallel with concourses F, G, and H.
Second, I was able to confirm that the two Y-shaped concourses (E/F in Terminal 2, and H/K in Terminal 3) were basically identical in size, other than that the arms of H/K were longer. I was actually able to copy and paste E/F to create H/K, with relatively minimal modifications required.
I still think that O’Hare is one of my favorite terminal shapes. The layout has a lot of instances of symmetry while still having each terminal manage to be completely unique, and it manages to fit a lot of gates in a relatively small area in a way that’s entirely pleasing to my eyes. I had a lot of fun recreating this silhouette.