Terminal Silhouettes: NRT


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.

Terminal Silhouettes: Redrawn ORD with Concourse L Stinger



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.

2018-04-27 16.51.53

With this extra expansion, my terminal silhouette was now out of date.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.

ORD Diff

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.

ORD Terminals and Concourses

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.

Terminal Silhouettes: Updated CLT with Concourse A Expansion



Charlotte (CLT) had been building an expansion onto terminal A for a while. Nonetheless, I was pretty surprised when I flew through CLT on 18 July that I’d managed to unintentionally book a flight on the day that it opened.

The new concourse forks off from the existing Concourse A where the long moving sidewalk hallway used to be:

Existing airport terminal in gray, new concourse A expansion in magenta

Unfortunately, adding the new expansion has made CLT look slightly less “like a reindeer,” as one of my friends noted about the original silhouette.


Terminal Silhouettes: LBB



Lubbock was an interesting airport; it appears to be curved, but it’s actually just a bunch of straight lines with shallow angles. The main curve features fifteen segments (separated by concrete ribs) over ninety degrees, so each one occupied only a six-degree slice of the curve.

Additionally, while I normally leave out awnings, LBB’s awning was really part of the structure, and connected by the concrete ribs, giving the terminal such a signature look that I really had to include it.



Terminal Silhouettes: AKL



AKL’s international terminal (on the left) was deceptively complex to draw. Though it was mostly straight lines, which are easier than curves, the majority of lines were not right angles or parallel. This effectively prevented me from rotating the drawing and using the rectangle tool, which added a lot of extra time.

Likewise, only one of the parts that appears curved is actually curved; the rest are a bunch of straight walls at slight angles to each other. This meant I couldn’t even use the ellipse or curve tools, and instead had to draw half a dozen or so guides each time just to get the angles consistent.

All in all, then, the international side took me quite a while to draw for what’s a relatively small terminal. At least the domestic terminal (right) was pretty quick to draw.