RDU Terminal 2 Opens Today

The second half of Terminal 2, the replacement for RDU’s 1987-era Terminal C, opens today. The 920,000 square foot completed project will have 36 gates, 13 shops and restaurants, and a central atrium containing an art piece called “Triplet”. The 4th and 5th baggage claim carousels will also open. The project cost approximately $570 million.

The completed project now designates the new terminal with two concourses, C and D (map), though they are technically on the same hallway. The gates that opened in 2008 are on the C concourse, and the gates opening now are on the D concourse. Airports have now gone to new nomenclature with terminals numbered and their concourses distinctly designated with letters.

Terminal 2 is now the host of Air Canada (D5, D9), American Airlines and American Eagle (C17- C18, C20-C25), Continental and Continental Express (D1, D3, D6), Delta and Delta Connection (C1, C3, C7, C9, C14, C15), Frontier (C25), United and United Express (D5, D9), and US Airways and US Airways Express (D10-D13). The following airlines remain in Terminal 1, the one that should have been replaced: AirTran, JetBlue, and Southwest Airlines.

In May 2010, the RDU Airport Authority voted to spend an extra $500,000 in order to accelerate construction so the project could be completed before next week’s NHL All-Star game. Let’s hope that all of the media, tourist, and athletes all arrive in Terminal 2.

The terminal is gorgeous. It is the “first major airport to be constructed with wooden struts”, but those really only encompass the fascinating roof. Much stone is used to compliment the wooden tones in the ceiling, and the attention to detail is impressive. While the overall idea was conveyed with Phase I of the building, the true scale of the roof and use of light could not be appreciated until now. Whether it is with carefully placed artwork, mosaic patterns in the terrazzo flooring, or bag hooks at the bathroom sinks, an impressive number of details were considered in constructing the building.

There was one unfortunate oversight, however: the choice of glass for the ticketing area’s South Wall. Apparently the glass did not filter enough light, so an enourmous curtain was created to tone the intensity of the sunlight that hits this wall most of the day. While the giant white curtain is dramatic, it will likely be dirty and unsightly in a few years.

Terminal 2 will truly be an impressive gateway for visitors and prospective business clients who enter this terminal. For those who do not arrive via the terminal, the building will certainly find its place among citizens’ driving tours for out-of-towners (unlike another award-winning facility that recently opened). Hopefully the airport authority can make necessary changes to Terminal 1 in order to bring it up to Terminal 2’s high standards.

If you are interested in visiting the terminal, be sure to park in the “Hourly 2” parking area. The entrance bays are to the far left in the deck’s entrance plaza. Parking is $1/hr. You will not be able to access the concourses without a plane ticket, but the atrium and baggage claim areas can still be appreciated by casual visitors.


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  • ct Said:

    > Terminal 1, the one that should have been replaced

    I’ve read that the most objectionable parts of T1 (on either end) will be closed off, with the remaining airlines using the middle portion that will be renovated. What’s mainly wrong with T1 is that it serves 10 times the number of flyers it was meant to. A clever architect could do wonders with that space.

  • Mike Said:

    Now. Do not spend a dime on that pathetic Terminal 1 (it is not convenient at any gate for travelers – retail and restaurants are a joke, coffee at the bagel shop is not drinkable, few bathrooms, etc.).

    Level that building and build a show piece for RDU growth

    Do not spend tax payers money on that building, it is ugly and travelers are always complaining (and rightfully so)

    P.S. Fix the elevators in the parking deck and clean up the garbage everywhere

  • Lee Said:

    So, hopefully they put in a decent waiting area now that it is all done. 30 or so seats is woefully inadequate. Plus, they did not even think to put in any info displays that were not affiliated with the airlines until several months after it opened, so when the ticketing kiosks closed down for the day and the airline had a nice logo screensaver up, you were SOL to find updated flight status for arriving flights.

    I know it was kind of temporary until this new phase opened and they did eventually put in some displays, but hopefully, such an essential item being overlooked is not indicative of the whole project. Everything else seems great when flying in and out, so I assume they got things right mostly.

  • OTB & lovin' it! Said:

    Thank you for the great photos!

  • chris Said:

    whats this other “award winning facility” that you’re referring to?

  • Dana Said:

    The NCMA (with its hideous exterior). Here is more on it: http://bit.ly/c0gXp4
    The building won the AIA’s highest award this month. There are two interesting companion points, however. It won during a year that the biggest construction slump in U.S. history, so of the small pool of competition it faced, most of it was budget construction.

    The museum also has to be the only AIA award winner that residents would actively avoid showing out-of-towners on a driving tour. Calatravia’s museum in Milwaukee? yes. Large warehouse? no. The association said that the building’s exterior aluminum panels, “continue[s] the discourse with the landscape” and offers “unexpected and scintillating reflections.” The last time I checked the landscape doesn’t feature aluminum. Anyone who says this building belongs with its landscape needs their head examined. It is about the starkest material Phifer could have chosen. Another critic said that he “brilliantly” planned for the building’s setting to change over time as the surroundings mature. Uh, yeah. It’s called “landscaping”. I hardly see how dark grey rocks against hard materials of various gray tones are going to ever blend with NC pine trees and green grass. If the building were set in a granite quarry I could understand it’s “continued discourse”. Please remember my points only point toward the museum’s exterior.

    RDU is a great building, however, because it does use materials that are consistent with the surrounding woods. It does have a theme that pertains to the area’s culture. It does function extremely well offering complex function in a simple format. It is a piece that has multiple points of appreciation (viewing it from numerous locations offers stunningly different points to appreciate). It uses natural light exceptionally well. It has kinetic energy, but doesn’t distract the building’s user from performing its duties. If RDU’s Terminal 2 is not a strong contender for the AIA’s award next year, then we will learn more about the AIA than they want us to know.

  • OTB & lovin' it! Said:

    That photo of the museum looks like 2 18-wheelers backed up to one another for security in an overgrown field….lovely.

  • Fraiser Said:

    I respectfully disagree. NCMA is just about the best space in the Triangle and one of the best places to actually experience art in the entire country if not the world. I have taken several groups of well traveled friends a few in the design field and to a person they were all amazed at the space. Nobody went gaga for the outside but as soon as we started to walk up and enter the building people’s jaw dropped as did mine the first time I visited. Terminal 2 is nice no doubt but NCMA is special

  • Dana Said:

    Fraiser, “Please remember my points only point toward the museum’s exterior.”

  • David Said:

    NCMA looks like prisoner housing for the cast of LOST.

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