The urban complex - Von Gerkan, Marg und Partner

The urban complex - Von Gerkan, Marg und Partner


The urban


Will the airports of the future

act as anchors for new urban



Are airport

managers ready

to embrace

IATA’s preferred





Preview of the

world’s leading

airport terminal

conference and




biggest hub

opens the Pier

A-Plus extension

to Terminal 1




the grade

The new Pier A-Plus extension to Terminal 1 at

Germany’s biggest hub has positioned Frankfurt

Airport to handle rapidly increasing passenger

numbers and the next generation of aircraft

Flight operations are now under way at Frankfurt

Airport’s new Pier A-Plus, an 800m-long westward

extension of Terminal 1’s Pier A, which enables Germany’s

biggest hub to serve up to six million additional passengers per

year, taking the total number of passengers served annually by

the airport to around 65 million.

The new €700 million terminal complex, designed by

Hamburg-based architect von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, has

been completed for the exclusive use of Deutsche Lufthansa

AG and its Star Alliance partners, and provides the required

infrastructure for handling next-generation aircraft, including

the Airbus A380 superjumbo and the Boeing 747-8.

On the occasion of the extension’s official opening in October,

news agency Reuters noted, somewhat uncharacteristically,

that “the pool of light reflected on dome-like glass panels at the

junction of the existing Pier A and the new pier might tempt

even the most harried of passengers to pause and reflect”.

There is no doubt that the artfully arranged steel, glass,

wood and reflective natural stone comprising this 760m-long,

28m-wide building extension provide it with a suitably futuristic

appearance; yet the appeal of Frankfurt’s Pier A-Plus to its

owner-operator Fraport, to Lufthansa, and to the millions of air

passengers passing through the facility every year, is more than

just aesthetic.


Squaire at Frankfurt

houses offices, hotels

and retail spaces

LEFT: Pier A-Plus was

officially opened in

October 2012

Frankfurt sets

sights on airport

city status

According to its owner-operator Fraport, Frankfurt Airport is one of

the few airports in Europe set to develop into a mega hub and to

evolve into an airport city. “In fact, we are already an airport city in

many ways,” says Fraport spokesperson Robert Payne.

One of the busiest air transportation hubs in Europe and Europe’s

number two airport for cargo, Fraport forecasts that by 2020

Frankfurt Airport will serve a total of around 88 million passengers

annually, which represents annual passenger growth of about 3.5%.

In the past few years, Frankfurt has been operating a near fullcapacity

and the new runway was urgently needed, says Payne. “Pier

A-Plus is part of the landside capacity expansion needed urgently,

in tandem with the airside Runway Northwest project, which was

inaugurated in October 2011.”

Many elements of Frankfurt as an evolving airport city have been

in place for 10, 15 or even 20 years, he adds, referring to hotels and

office/business complexes. The airport has also recently added new

maintenance facilities and the recently expanded CargoCity South.

At the October 2012 opening of Pier A-Plus, Volker Bouffier,

prime minister of the German federal state of Hesse, remarked that

Frankfurt Airport is, by far, the largest employment complex at a

single location in all of Germany, and that “it serves as the job motor

of the entire region”.

Passenger Terminal World | JANUARY 2013


Frankfurt Airport

is one of the few

airports in Europe set

to develop into

a mega hub

Facts and figures

•Pier A-Plus is an 800m westward

extension of Terminal 1

•Total space of over 185,400m 2 , equal to

22 football fields

•Seven new positions for wide-body

aircraft, four of which are suited for the

Airbus A380

•Additional ground handling positions in

the apron

•Designed with four levels that connect

seamlessly to the corresponding levels of

the existing Terminal 1 building

•Operations began on 10 October 2012

The pier features state-of-the-art terminal

facilities and a wide array of retail and food

and beverage outlets for up to six million

passengers a year

Flexible docking

With 185,000m 2 of total usable floor space (enough to

accommodate almost 26 football pitches), Pier A-Plus is the

largest above-ground construction project at Frankfurt Airport

since the opening of Terminal 2 in 1994. More importantly,

though, it provides docking positions for seven long-haul

aircraft. Four of these have been designed for double-decker

jets, such as the A380, and are served by three passenger

bridges (one for the upper deck and two for the main deck). The

remaining three positions, each with two passenger bridges,

have been designed for aircraft such as the Boeing 747-8 and

Airbus A340. Alternatively, 11 narrow-bodied jets could be

handled simultaneously at Pier A-Plus, ensuring, says Fraport,

“optimum flexibility”.

JANUARY 2013 | Passenger Terminal World


All incoming flights from the USA will now be handled at

Area A of Terminal 1. The minimum connecting time for many

transfer flights on these routes has been reduced from around

60 to 45 minutes, and the increased docking rate, with more

aircraft docking directly on the terminal rather than being

parked at remote apron positions, is much more convenient for

travellers than being transported to the terminal by bus.

Pier A-Plus represents a “quantum leap” in Fraport’s

strategy to secure the competitiveness and future capabilities

of Frankfurt Airport, says executive board chairman Dr Stefan

Schulte: “The extra capacity will enable us to meet traffic

growth expected in the coming years and to strengthen our

role as one of the world’s leading aviation hubs. This terminal

expansion also sets new standards for the travel experience of

our passengers and for terminal management.”

Passenger convenience

Passengers travelling via Frankfurt Airport’s new Pier A-Plus

will also benefit from advanced handling facilities, including

some 7.3km of new baggage conveyor belts, and the capacity to

handle 5,000 pieces of luggage per hour.

Lufthansa says the new pier makes the transfer

processes easier and faster at its biggest hub.

The airline worked very closely with Fraport on

the setup of Pier A-Plus, with much of what it

requested having been based on the experience

it gleaned at Munich Airport’s Terminal 2.

Lufthansa’s emphasis, says spokesperson Klaus

Gorny, is on passenger experience. “What’s most

important to us are features such as clear signage

and easy guidance through the terminal, to make

transit as smooth as possible,” he says. Lufthansa

insisted on the inclusion of some non-retail areas

on each of the two main floors, Gorny adds,

including playgrounds for children.

There are, in fact, more than 600 seats in the

extension’s gate areas. Pier A-Plus accommodates

five Lufthansa lounges: one First Class; two Senator and two

Business lounges. These expand the airline’s total lounge space

at Frankfurt Airport by almost 50% to more than 14,000m 2 .

Other details designed to maximise passenger comfort include

broader-than-usual moving walkways and the inclusion of

power outlets and USB ports in waiting area seating.

Key focuses

Architect von Gerkan, Marg and Partners says it focused on

three key areas with this project: the conceptual integration of

the new building into the existing ensemble, which dictated the

use of materials used in existing structures, while also creating

an individual identity; complying with new EU safety

regulations for passenger handling; and creating a retail and

lounge concept.

The EU safety regulations state that passengers arriving

from non-Schengen states need to be separated from departing

passengers who have already been security screened. And so

Pier A-Plus was designed with a fourth upper floor; level one

comprises the apron and baggage-handling; level two is for

Schengen passengers; level three is for non-Schengen departing

passengers; and level four is for non-Schengen arrivals.

According to Fraport, Pier A-Plus

represents a new standard in terms

of retail concepts. Shops were

provided with an integrative layout of

What’s most

important to

us are features

such as clear

signage and easy

guidance through

the terminal

the façade in the passenger area by

the A-Plus planning team, and within

this framework, concessionaires “can

freely develop as they like, within

security requirements”, according to

Fraport spokesperson Robert Payne.

A shop can be expanded at any time

to fit a tenant’s or customers’ needs,

© Marcus Bredt


€700 million Pier

A-Plus was designed

by Hamburg-based

architect von Gerkan,

Marg and Partners

JANUARY 2013 | Passenger Terminal World


RIGHT: The ‘root’ – a

central marketplace

located between Pier

A and Pier A-Plus

BELOW: The new pier

will be used exclusively

by Deutsche Lufthansa

opposite is actually true, he argues, and “when passengers feel

comfortable in a space because of the layout of shops and the

interesting relationship to the outside apron... they will surely

be happier to spend time in such a place”.

Shops and restaurants in the light central marketplace are

supplemented by shops, bars and cafés near to the gate areas,

in direct proximity to waiting zones.

“while the homogenous façade ensures that the building is

perceived as a whole and makes wayfinding easier”.

A total surface area of about 12,000m 2 is dedicated to some

60 shops and restaurants. For the first time at this airport, duty

free and travel value shops are ‘conceptualised’ as walk-through

shops, through which passengers have to travel, once they have

passed through security control points.

The root

Located at the junction between Piers A and A-Plus is a central

shopping area, dubbed ‘the root’, which is flooded with natural

daylight from a circular glazed opening that cuts through the

overlying floors.

Jürgen Hillmer from von Gerkan, Marg and Partners compares

the voluminous space at this marketplace – which he admits

nearly didn’t happen – to that of a stadium. Only after “many

discussion meetings” with Fraport, he says, did the owneroperator

agree to our plans to raise the ceilings in the central

root retail area by 65cm to a height of almost 4m.

Few could deny it was a good idea though, as, during daylight

hours, natural light does indeed flood through the opening. As

an additional benefit of this roof raising, Hillmer says there

is now good disabled access between the root and the gates

without any need for ramps.

Yet Fraport originally favoured an enclosed retail area with

artificial lighting and no visual connection with the outside, he

adds, “based on the erroneous belief that customers’ purchasing

behaviour is negatively affected when they are distracted

by natural daylight or the sight of aeroplanes”. Quite the

Passenger Terminal World | JANUARY 2013

Design elements

Architect von Gerkan, Marg and Partners says it also opted for

a larger span for the load-bearing structure than Fraport had

originally specified, which enabled it to omit a row of visually

intrusive columns. It moved secondary features such as escape

staircases, service ducts and WC facilities to the northern edge

of the building, enabling the fully glazed southern façade to

provide an uninterrupted view of the apron and aircraft.

“Passengers can also see almost the entire length of the

gate building,” says Hillmer, “which not only helps with their

orientation, but also helps them feel confident that they will

reach their gate in time.” This is further supported by the “clear

geometric structuring” and the admission of daylight, which

streams into the building via the entire southern elevation.

Lighting has been designed to support the differentiation of

spaces. “The formation of light islands and zones for counter

and gate areas, as well as for the retail and gastronomy

facilities, creates the necessary interest and variation within

the large architectural space and supports passengers’

orientation,” Hillmer adds.

Lufthansa’s executive board chairman Christoph Franz

is convinced that Pier A-Plus will be well appreciated by

passengers. It’s still early days, but the shorter transfer times

are already attracting praise, as are the straightforward waymarkings

and comfortable seating areas.

“With Pier A-Plus, our Frankfurt home base is again at the

forefront among Europe’s major hub airports,” says Franz.

“This is good news for the German aviation industry and for

the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main region.” It’s also good news for the

passengers travelling through Germany’s largest airport. n

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines