Terminal Silhouettes: MIA

Terminal silhouette of MIA (Miami)


First of all, I’ve updated the color scheme of my terminal silhouettes. Before, the terminal was a lighter gray on a white background, and relied on an outline to give it the contrast it needed from the background. However, I’ve always felt the outline distracted from some of the details of the terminal design, and I wanted to switch to a pure silhouette – so I’ve made the terminal much darker so it doesn’t need an outline, and I went ahead and made the background itself slightly darker so it isn’t as harsh as before.

MIA itself was enjoyable to draw, even if it took a while. All of the angles on the interior of the terminal loop are 150°, which means that the concourse piers are generally a nice even 30° off of each other – for example, the angles between Concourses F and G or G and H are 30°. (The eastern part of Concourse E is itself rotated 10° off of perpendicular, but the western satellite of Concourse E is aligned to the 30° pattern.)

Terminal diagram of MIA. North Terminal has Concourse D. Central Terminal has Concourses E, F, and G. South Terminal has Concourse H and J.

No two concourses used the same design – I’m assuming they were all built at different times with no real regard for maintaining a common layout.

Concourse D is enormous. I’d speculated when I visited MIA that it was nearly as long as Detroit’s (DTW) Concourse A. Now that I’ve drawn it, I can overlay them and see that MIA Concourse D is actually slightly longer if MIA’s small jet piers are included. (Even if they aren’t included, the walking distance in MIA is longer due to the two bends in the concourse.)

Silhouettes of MIA Concourse D and DTW Concourse A overlaid on each other to compare size. MIA is slightly longer.

I’ll need to go back and update my previously drawn terminals to the new color scheme; hopefully I’ll be able to do so over the next few months.

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
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Terminal Silhouettes: BHM

Terminal silhouette of BHM (Birmingham)


I’m a fan of the circular landside portion of the terminal on this one, though I was hoping that the airside portion would turn out to be a symmetrical W shape, rather than the slightly irregular W that it turned out to be.

It was pretty easy to draw; the only curves could be drawn with a circle cut out of another circle, and everything else was straight lines save for the tiny circular bump in the middle of the airside concourse.

Terminal Silhouettes: NRT

Terminal silhouette of NRT (Tokyo–Narita)


I’ve had an issue with certain airports equipped to handle large quantities of large aircraft – in many cases, the jet bridges are not connected directly to the terminal structure, but instead are connected to immovable “fingers” extending from the structure. These fingers allow the aircraft to be further from the terminal, and support using multiple jet bridges for faster loading and unloading of very large aircraft.

As I discovered when I created my terminal silhouette for Vancouver, it’s not immediately clear whether the fingers should be considered part of the jet bridge (and should therefore be omitted from the drawing) or part of the terminal (and should therefore be included in the drawing).

Tokyo–Narita has similar fingers in both Terminals 1 and 2, and I debated for a while whether or not I should include them, and even started drawing them:

Fingers on part of Terminal 1

Ultimately, though, the terminal silhouettes are an aesthetic representation of an airport, and I liked the simplified, fingerless version of Narita better. I decided to learn from my Vancouver silhouette, and drew Narita without the fingers.

Beyond that, my other decisions were what buildings to include in the drawing at all. Satellite maps of NRT seem to show an airside connector of Terminals 2 and 3; however, airport maps (and my recollection of Terminal 2) seem to indicate that this hallway is not available for the traveling public, so I ultimately decided to exclude it. Likewise, there were a few buildings touching the southeast side of Terminal 2 which appeared to be purely administrative; since they were self-contained structures that weren’t deeply integrated with the terminal, I left them out as well.