Washington Dulles International Airport – Main Terminal – Automated People Mover

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When it opened in 1962, Washington Dulles International Airport was the first airport in the United States designed for commercial jet aircraft. Eero Saarinen created a fleet of “mobile lounges” to transport passengers from the compact terminal to remotely parked planes. Due to changing security needs and a growing volume of travelers, the lounges became inefficient. In turn, SOM conceived a people mover system that provides rail and pedestrian links between the main terminal and midfield concourses.

To preserve sight lines and to keep Saarinen’s landmark building intact, the main station is located entirely underground. A faceted roof structure supported by 105-foot-long concrete beams contains numerous skylights and luminous panels, which bathe the subterranean space in daylight. The floor is envisioned as a single folded plan floating between concrete walls, with a terrazzo surface similar to the flooring in the iconic terminal above.