Ben Gurion International Airport

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The Ben Gurion Airport dates to the 1930s, but even with expansions and renovations over the years, the facility was showing its age by the 1990s. With travel to Israel rapidly increasing, the airport authority set out to build a world-class terminal with a capacity of 16 million passengers a year. SOM designed landside and airside facilities, approach roads, a train station, and parking and apron areas. The terminal was the largest public project undertaken in Israel and, upon completion in 2002, quickly became a powerful emblem of the nation’s growing international status.

The architecture is decidedly modern yet strongly reflects the country’s cultural heritage. SOM created a sequence of experiences that celebrate arrival and departure while responding to the region’s climate. A series of terraced gardens with local flora set the stage for the pastoral orientation of the terminal. Passengers enter the 65,000-square-meter landside building through an 8-meter-deep wall that serves as a metaphorical transition from air to earth. The wall, faced with Jerusalem stone, forms a counterpart to a large glass-and-metal window that allows views to the airfield — a symbol of the openness with which the country greets its visitors