Terminal Silhouettes: JFK



As of the time of this writing, JFK was the last remaining airport I’d visited that I hadn’t yet created a terminal silhouette for. I saved it for last because I knew it would be a difficult silhouette to draw, and I wanted as much practice as possible with other airports before getting into this one.

Instead of functioning as one single passenger airport, JFK effectively acts as six individual airports, all sharing a common set of runways. This was by design – airlines (or consortia of airlines) were each given their own space and allowed to build their own terminals. Over the years, a number of terminals have been built and demolished, leaving six currently.

The six current terminals, overlaid over recent Google Earth imagery. Note how none of them look anything like each other.

Because of that, each terminal design is unique relative to the others, which meant there were very few graphical elements I could carry over between each terminal – each one effectively had to be drawn from scratch.

I think my favorite part of drawing this airport was the sunshade over the entrance to Terminal 2:

Normally I don’t include sunshades unless they’re particularly prominent or architecturally interesting, and I think this qualifies as both. It’s a 3-by-8 grid of adjacent octagons – but if you look closely, the grid is slightly curved. Thus, I had to use the imagery to find the center point of the imaginary circle that this grid was curved around, draw some radial guidelines from that point, and calculate the angle that I had to rotate each column of three octagons.

As mentioned above, I’ve now drawn a terminal silhouette for every airport I’ve visited to date. From here, I plan to go back and update a few terminals that have changed since I’ve drawn them (ICT and CVG have each torn down an old terminal), and I’ll draw terminals for new airports that I visit. If I have time, I may redraw some of my earliest terminals, as I’ve noticed a lot of minor mistakes I made in those silhouettes as a novice.



Terminal Silhouettes: YVR



Some airport terminals require a lot of judgment to determine what to include in the silhouette. Typically, I want to include the main structure of the building to represent the shape of the terminal, which means I normally exclude things like sunshades and jet bridges unless they are significant to the structure.

In the case of YVR, a lot of the jet bridges are not directly anchored to the terminal building; instead, they’re attached to the end of solid fingers that extend from the main structure. Ultimately, I decided to include those fingers, since they are permanent, immobile, and for the most part actually part of the building. (I did decide to exclude the jet bridges themselves, and the round stairs attached to many of the fingers.)

However, I also think the fingers clutter up the terminal silhouette quite a lot, and are a blemish on what I consider an otherwise beautiful silhouette.


Terminal Silhouettes: PHL



PHL was an intricate terminal to draw, for a few reasons.

First, its baggage claims are on the other side of a road and a train track from its ticketing areas, and partially underneath the parking garages. This adds an additional building for each terminal and a number of skybridges, plus train stations for that train track.

But the parking garages pose a greater problem, because I don’t normally include parking structures in my terminal silhouettes unless they’re integral to the terminal design (for example, PHX or IAH). In this case, since the baggage claim areas are only partially overlapping the parking structures, I decided to leave out the parking. However, that meant I had to do a lot more research into the shape of the baggage claim buildings (from official airport maps and traveler photos) because I couldn’t see the entire baggage claim building in the satellite imagery.

Second, none of the concourses are perpendicular to the main terminal structure, nor are any of them parallel to each other. (Even concourses A East and A West on the left side of the diagram, which look parallel, are a few degrees different from each other.) This meant that I had to do a lot of rotation of the imagery to be able to use horizontal and vertical guides and the rectangle tool. For some smaller portions of the facility, I just used angled guides and the straight line tool, which are a bit more of a pain to use in Inkscape than simply doing unions of rectangles.

Still, overall, I really like the way this terminal turned out. Its proportions are nice (it’s not overly long in one direction), and it’s relatively compact so it’s easy to take in all at once.  The concourses create a pleasing fan shape, as well.