Title: New dimensions on airport planning
Author: Josť Manser and Ilse Gray
Text: New dimensions on airport planning
Josť Manser looks at two aspects of the airport of the vacation town of Tampa
in Florida: the graphic system and the passenger shuttle service between the
landside building and the satellite departure buildings. Back home, Ilse Gray
reports on a new duty-free shop at Heathrow Airport
(caption) Below left. warning and road division signs on red side passing below overhead shuttle. All neutral signs are in brown. Below, red side vehicle departure point on second level of terminal building, on top of which are three levels of parking for 2000 cars. Colour signs continue through to aeroplanes.
Colour coding the way in
As a back-up to sophisticated planning, Tampa called in Architectural Graphics Associates at a very early stage to ensure an advanced and trouble-free system of signposts. One of the difficulties about road-signs is that they frequently occur only when the driver has to react to them immediately. He slows down to give himself time to think. So does the man behind, and behind him, and so on until there is a traffic jam. To avoid this, the graphic system for Tampa is introduced at the entrance to the three-mile airport roadway, giving drivers time to register signs well before they need act on them.
Because the landside building is split vertically into two halves, the north half for two of the airside buildings, the south half for the remaining two, the passenger has to be directed to the half in which his airline is located. To reflect this physical division of the terminal, AGA devised a two-colour graphic design system - red for the north half, blue for the south half - which is introduced when the airport roadway begins. Colour coded, overhead signs carry the Tampa symbol (designed by AGA) and list the airlines, with instructions to the motorist to "follow red" or "follow blue'' depending on which of the airlines he is using.
There are four of these signs at 350ft intervals, giving ample opportunity for the message to sink in, until eventually only the colour coded symbol is used. Then there is a critical traffic split, with a blue sign board with the Tampa symbol and a left pointing arrow, and, alongside, a red symbol with a right pointing arrow. No airline names by now (you should know which colour you are), but the five-foot symbol on the signs can be read from 2400 to 3000 feet away. Within the colour area, arriving and departing flight information is sorted out and exit and parking directions given in a similar bold, unmistakable manner.
The shuttle cars have been painted in colours according to which airside building they serve (two lots red, two blue) and, inside, illuminated graphics brief the arriving passenger to follow blue or red to his airline's baggage facility. The whole system, for interior and exterior signs, uses Architectural Graphics' specially designed Alphabet A which is based on a German typeface and was re-proportioned to achieve legibility both from an oblique view and at maximum distance.
(caption) Below, plan of Tampa airport designed by Reynolds, Smith and Hills showing signposting scheme and overhead shuttle between terminal and departure buildings Above, one of red side directional signs Above left, blue side directional signs Left, colour-only sign at road division, in background arrival and departure division. The sign system was designed by Architectural Graphics Associates.
Special treatment for the Jumbos
The main claim made for the new Tampa International Airport in Florida by its owners, the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, and designers Reynolds, Smith and Hills is that it is the first airport to be designed specifically to accommodate jumbo-jet traffic.
All the passengers' needs - parking, baggage handling, ticketing and so on - are served in one central building, while four satellite buildings, each allocated to particular airlines, serve the needs of the aircraft - loading, unloading and servicing. Eventually there will be six satellites when the airport reaches its full capacity.
Linking the central building and the satellites are mechanical people movers - an automated shuttle system like a sort of horizontal lift which transports car-loads of passengers to the appropriate satellite, where they board the aircraft. This results in the proud claim that no passenger need walk more than 700 feet during his processing through the airport, which compares favourably with the long boring treks through the corridors of other places where expediency rather than planning has prevailed, and where terminuses stretch out great fingers to supply parking frontage for the planes.
Planning for Tampa started in 1961, a gestation period retarded by the announcement of the jumbo in 1965, whose requirements necessitated the completely new concept. Tampa now handles about 3.1 million passengers a year, and, at its ultimate capacity, it should serve growing needs until about the year 2000.
The central building is on six levels. The upper three have parking for nearly 2000 cars reached by access and egress ramps. The lower three are devoted to baggage handling (ground floor), ticketing (first floor), and the shuttle system transfer and amenities like restaurants (on the second floor). Vertical linking between floors - another aid to keeping passenger walking distances within the 700 feet - is by lifts and escalators. No planes are parked near this landside terminal, and the shuttle system enters and leaves the building at second floor level. All sides are therefore accessible to ground traffic, and this has resulted in a double-fronted building, with four-lane roadways on both sides and at two levels. Each side caters for traffic for two particular airside buildings.
Obviously, the success of the airport depends on the efficient functioning of the passenger shuttle system. Originally designed by Westinghouse Electric Corporation for rapid transit in urban areas, it needed only minor modifications for airport use. Each airside building has two cars, each carrying 100 standing passengers, which run on parallel tracks on elevated roadways and make the 1000-foot trip in about 40 seconds. Allowing for loading and unloading at each end, this system provides a full service once about every 100 seconds.
The air conditioned cars, designed by Eliot Noyes, have rubber tyres, 8-foot wide doors on each side capable of admitting a wheel chair, and they are electrically operated and computer controlled, obviating the need for expensive and occasionally unreliable manpower. (One criticism of the mobile lounges at Dulles Airport, apart from the cumbersome passenger loading operation, is that they are completely dependent on the specially trained drivers.)
Each leg of the shuttle can handle 840 passengers in 10 minutes, which is equivalent to the simultaneous arrival of four loaded DC8s. At present, baggage goes out to the airside buildings by trucks, but eventually it is planned that baggage conveyors will be installed in the 30-foot spaces between the tracks of the passenger transport shuttle.
A lot of people were involved in the planning and design of this 80 million dollar airport. They include the owners, Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, the engineering consultants, J E Greiner Company Inc, the aviation adviser, Leigh Fisher Associates, and the architects, Reynolds, Smith and Hills, who were responsible for designing all buildings.
(caption) At Tampa, walking distance between bus or car and aeroplane is no more than 600 feet. Pairs of Westinghouse automatic vehicles each holding 100 passengers, locked to centre beam by eight pneumatic rubber guide wheels, do 1000 foot shuttles in 40 seconds every 100 seconds. The existing eight vehicle system can move 3360 passengers every ten minutes.
Heathrow's new duty-free shop
With the opening of Heathrow's new Terminal 3 arrivals, the older building (designed by Frederick Gibberd & Partners and one of the first to be built) changed its use to departures only. This gave the British Airports Authority more space for duty-free shopping, which is an increasingly valuable source of income. The total area given over to duty-free shopping in Terminal 3 of 8500sq ft and the recently opened supermarket is the biggest at any world airport. Five million passengers are expected to use the terminal in 1972 and the supermarket caters for 1000 passengers an hour. Last month an adjoining counter service shop was opened for the sale of cashmeres, perfumes, cameras, watches and jewellery.
Both supermarket and counter service shop were designed by Frederick Gibberd & Partners, who have also designed a similar counter service shop in Terminal 1. The complete security seal demanded by the BAA round duty-free areas has been turned to decorative advantage by designing the shopfront as a domed and glazed pavilion. Gloss yellow painted structural steelwork supports straight and curved glazing framed by neoprene gaskets. Curved and domed brown tinted Perspex is used at the upper level. The large areas of glazing make the interior fully visible and are both intended to attract customers and make those inside conscious of being part of a whole.
The supermarket is entered through turnstiles (automatically keeping count) under a black laminate faced canopy. The rows of shelving are adapted from standard Beanstalk Shelving, the floor is white pvc sheeting. Solid vertical surfaces and plinths are finished with rough textured oatmeal ceramic strip tiles in keeping with other newly constructed areas and the extensive use of yellow gloss paint is repeated elsewhere - as in the self-service buffet chairs.
Leaving the supermarket through 16 check-out desks finished in white and yellow plastic laminate and black pvc Lionclad edged with black rubber, you come into the counter service shop. Here the floor is BAA standard fawn carpeting, but the yellow painted steel structure and domed upper levels are carried through. The 3ft 9in showcase counters of plastic laminated ply and neoprene gaskets have wide curved yellow Perspex edging the glass. The plastic laminated panels behind the sales girls hold glass shelves on red aluminium pegs. Here the domed upper levels are translucent Perspex.
Main Contractor was Stanley Hugh Leach Ltd: the shop fitting subcontractor was Beck and Pollitzer Ltd.
(caption) Glossy yellow structural steelwork, ceramic strip tiles and curved glazing set in neoprene gaskets are the main elements of the supermarket. Domed clerestory of brown tinted Perspex neatly avoids ceiling lights and provides security seal
(caption) Check-in with computerised turnstiles keeping count, left and check-out, left below. Up to five million people are expected to pass through Terminal 3 this year
(caption) The supermarket can cope with over 1000 passengers an hour and offers 17 brands of cigar as well as the usual cigarettes and liquor Shop signs are in the Dotmatrix typeface used throughout Heathrow.