Atlanta –  New South ConstructionMcCarthy Building Companies and Synergy Development Partners’ joint venture known as NSMS, along with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), celebrated an important milestone – the installation of the final structural steel on the south terminal canopy and topping out of project. The joint venture broke ground on the project at the world’s most traveled airport in September 2016. The north side canopy was completed in October of 2018. The south side portion of the canopy project reached this milestone 32 days ahead of schedule, thanks to lessons learned from constructing the north canopy. The overall project is expected to be complete in April of 2020.

Photo by: Angela Garrison

To celebrate the milestone, approximately 250 people gathered on April 29 for the erection of the final piece of steel. The construction crew, trade partners, and airport officials signed the final structural steel before hoisting it into place. Those in attendance included NSMS’ construction team, subcontractors, project architects, engineers, and ATL executives.

Photo by: Angela Garrison

“We are thrilled to have reached another milestone in our expansive ATLNext capital improvement program,” said Tom Nissalke, assistant general manager for Planning and Development at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  “Additionally, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out our safety record and the standards by which our team has performed throughout the project. ATL boasts some of the safest statistics in the world, particularly for a project this size, and that is to be commended,” he said.

Consisting of 3,500 tons of steel covered in 19,776 square yards of lightweight, ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), the canopies create a new iconic gateway for the City of Atlanta. With an average of 275,000 people traveling through the Atlanta airport every day, the canopies improve the passenger experience by protecting visitors from the elements and improving traffic flow with the planned addition of elevated walkways.

“We are excited to reach this topping out point and are pleased to be constructing such an architecturally interesting project that will offer a lasting legacy to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the entire city,” said Justis Brogan, senior project manager for NSMS. “This project has been challenging due to the unique design of this structure. We are looking forward to the next phase of the project.”

In addition to the canopies, ATL is modernizing the Central Passenger Terminal Complex (CPTC). NSMS is making upgrades to all 12 entrances and associated facades, lobbies and curbside check-ins, bringing the nearly 40-year-old terminal into the 21st century. This project is one of the first components of the ATLNext development program. The goal of the project is to bring convenience and connectivity to passengers as well as attract and grow business interest for ATL.

“Although we still have a way to go, the final structural member’s placement marks the successful completion of over three years of planning and execution of an extremely logistically challenging erection project,” said Dan Hobson, project director for NSMS. “General practice is to isolate the public from the construction process, however in our case, hundreds of thousands of passengers walk directly under it. In the future, as the canopies become an icon for the City of Atlanta, hopefully many folks will remember watching it being constructed and feel connected to it.”

Project Fast Facts:

  • The canopy structures consist of 19 super-trusses on the north and south domestic terminals.
  • 38 total super-trusses are each anchored to a 21-foot tall pier column and span across eight lanes of traffic. Each of the piers that support the canopy frames is made of nearly 30 cubic yards of concrete and supported on micro piles that are as deep as 75 feet.
  • Each span takes one week to put up, one week to align, one week to weld.
  • The canopy material is ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) membrane, a fluorine-based plastic. ETFE is a durable, recyclable material known for its design flexibility to withstand extreme weather conditions.
  • This is the biggest installation of ETFE in the U.S. and the first in an aviation related project, it is usually used in stadiums.
  • 3,708 colored lights illuminate the canopies.

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