Terminal Silhouettes: MCI

Terminal silhouette of MCI (Kansas City)


Kansas City was a fun airport to draw.

Although Kansas City’s terminals look circular, they don’t truly have curved walls. Instead, their true shape is a 54-sided regular polygon (a pentacontakaitetragon), with a portion removed to allow the roadway to enter.

Both the outside and inside wall are polygons, but they’re also rotated slightly from each other, such that each corner of the interior wall is lined up with the midpoint of each outer wall segment, and vice versa. Each inner wall corner has a notch (from the sun shade over the entry doors), and each outer wall corner has a spike (from the support pillars).

Zoomed in view of MCI terminal, showing roof beams, notches, and spikes

Overlapping zig-zag lines connect the spikes and notches, and form the large roof beams inside the terminal…

…which continue outside the terminal to support the road loop sun shade.

This meant that I had to draw quite a lot of guides to properly draw the terminal shape.

Screenshot of inkscape showing a 54-sided polygon with another 54-sided polygon cut out of it, and drawing guides overlapping it.

Fortunately, the three terminals were the same shape and size, so once I drew one terminal, I could copy, paste, and rotate, to create the other two.

Screenshot of Inkscape showing three terminals arranged around a center point.

The three terminals themselves are all arranged around a common center point (the middle of the giant roundabout serving all three terminals).

Terminal A (the upper left terminal) is currently being demolished for a replacement terminal. Since the demolition is not yet complete, I decided to include Terminal A, albeit shown in a lighter shade.

As I mentioned in my new airport post for Kansas City, it’s a shame that this terminal design doesn’t really work with modern airport requirements, because it’s a beautiful terminal design. I’m glad I got to visit and draw the old terminals while they were still largely operational.

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