Midway International Security Checkpoint Expansion

Firm: Muller & Muller, Ltd. and Jacobs Engineering

Other Consultants:

Owner: City of Chicago

Description: Muller & Muller, Ltd. (M2), as prime consultant, successfully led the design for this $100M expansion of the Midway International Airport (MDW) TSA checkpoint. This complex project, currently under construction, was designed in a short span of just 14 months. The new 80,000 sf structure spans a busy roadway to connect the two halves of the existing Midway terminal, greatly increasing the TSA inspection capacity.

The high-profile expansion vastly improves circulation and reduces waiting times during peak periods. The centrally located checkpoint accommodates fully equipped security lanes and includes a greatly expanded queue space. It further rationalizes pedestrian flow in the airport by segregating entering and exiting passengers and by providing a dedicated employee entrance. Expanded retail opportunities are also created.

The Landside and Airside Terminals are physically separated by Cicero Avenue. The new addition connects the two buildings at different elevations, spans over Cicero Avenue and the Arrivals Roadway, and under the upper-level Departures Roadway. The project required extensive coordination with the TSA and Aviation Security and various security features were embedded within the design, including extensive camera monitoring, hardening of the airside barriers, and the incorporation of blast provisions within the structural components. The project further required in-depth construction crane analysis to satisfy FAA 7460 requirements.

Problem: M2 along with our engineering team took on the challenge of creating a 80,000 SF addition to the existing MDW Bridge that crossed over a major six-land urban arterial, and then over the eight-lane arrivals roadway and finally under the departures roadway. Phasing was essential in order to keep as many lanes as possible open for both the main arterial road, and MDW arrival and departure lanes.

Solution: The initial concept provided to M2 indicated full construction under 400 linear feet of the upper-level departures roadway. This concept posed two main challenges: how to architecturally treat an expansive space with sub-standard ceiling heights with numerous roadway columns, and the prolonged shutdowns of the arrivals roadway that would be required during construction. M2 worked closely with the Department of Aviation to analyze the root cause of pedestrian congestion, noting significantly deficient vertical circulation in the landside terminal. M2 developed an alternative concept that refocused resources on correcting the deficient vertical circulation. The approved alternate concept includes the reconfiguration of four existing escalators, mezzanines extensions, the addition of eight new escalators, and the addition of four new elevators. In lieu of building completely under the upper-level roadway, two pre-fabricated connector bridges now supplement the existing connector bridge, connecting the new elevated security hall to the landside terminal. The pre-fabricated solution added immense value to the project by solving pedestrian congestion and eliminating prolonged shutdowns of the arrivals roadway.

City of Chicago