O’Hare expansion gets final OK from feds; will add a “global terminal” for both international and domestic flights


O’Hare International Airport has received official federal approval for a $7.1 billion project to replace Terminal 2 with a “global terminal” that would combine domestic and international flights in one place.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other dignitaries announced that the Federal Aviation Administration has completed a four-year environmental review that paved the way for the project.

“When O’Hare Global Terminal opens, it will double the space of the existing Terminal 2, making it one of the most transformative terminal investments in America,” said Chicago Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee.

The project is expected to begin with two new satellite concourses providing approximately 1.3 million square feet of gate and amenity space, which will “dramatically expand the airport’s ability to accommodate aircraft of all sizes,” Lightfoot said. “It’s a big deal for us.”

The unveiling of the planned new Terminal 2, a “global terminal” at O’Hare International Airport. Two planned satellite concourses can be seen in the background.

Buttigieg said, “We’re excited about creating good-paying union jobs, and they’re coming with a generation of construction.”

According to the plan, the existing Terminal 2 will be demolished and replaced by a “global terminal” that will receive both domestic and international flights. O’Hare would be the first “global union center” in the country. This will allow domestic airlines and their partner international carriers to be in the same terminal, meaning that passengers connecting to international flights will not have to board the People Mover to Terminal 5, known as the International terminal.

Demolition of Terminal 2 is expected to begin in 2026, and the global terminal is expected to be completed in 2030.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot welcomes U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at O'Hare International Airport on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot welcomed US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at O’Hare International Airport on Monday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A team that included renowned Chicago architect Jeanne Gang was selected in 2019 to design the new terminal, the centerpiece of a major expansion project.

“As a Chicagoan, I deeply understand the importance of O’Hare to our city’s identity, and I am proud that my hometown has given our team the opportunity to realize a design that will showcase Chicago’s unique culture, traditions and diversity to visitors and residents. Likewise,” Gang said at the time of his selection. “The new Global Terminal and Global Concourse is an important project to unlock both O’Hare’s potential to be a leader in aviation and Chicago’s future success as a modern, economically strong and truly global city.”

Gang is the architect who designed the Vista Tower and helped transform Meigs Field into a nature preserve.

Presentation of the new

Rendering of Studio Gang’s design for the central hub of the new “global terminal” to be built at O’Hare International Airport.

The Studio Gang website describes that terminal and road: “As the confluence of the Chicago River, the three arms of the design converge to create a central hub that creates a vibrant new neighborhood at the heart of O’Hare’s campus.”

In the central hub of the global terminal, “a vibrant new neighborhood unfolds around a spacious Central Green that can support pop-up events, music and informal gatherings. The plantings extend along the terminal’s three branches, encompassing boulevards of restaurants, shops and retail that together evoke a vibrant Chicago street.”

Earlier Monday, Buttigieg toured the air traffic control tower at O’Hare, where he met with staff. He was also expected to visit the Aviation Maintenance Institute, 3711 S. Ashland Ave., where he will speak about the importance of strong workforce training programs for the next generation of aviation workers.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks to reporters after a news conference at O'Hare International Airport, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks to reporters after a news conference at O’Hare International Airport on Monday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (center left) and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg greet travelers at O'Hare International Airport on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg greet travelers at O’Hare International Airport on Monday. Buttigieg was in town for a news conference at O’Hare’s Terminal 2, where officials announced a massive expansion of the airport.

Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times



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