Rating 4.6

ATL: The World's Busiest Airport

Located on what once was the Atlanta Speedway built in 1909 by Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has been the world’s busiest airport for nearly two decades with passenger totals hitting a record high of 90 million Atlanta travelers.

The $1.4 billion 2012 update to the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal is what Aviation General Manager Louis Miller credits the growth in numbers of passengers to, forecasting continued growth in the years to come. Moreover, the addition of a new 12-gate Concourse F increased the airport’s mass to 1.2 million-square-feet, allowing for even more travelers.

Other additions include a fifth runway and an elevated SkyTrain, making Atlanta’s airport the world’s most efficient airport according to the Air Transport Research Society. Other additions include the restructuring that made the airport directly accessible to downtown Atlanta by using the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MARTA) rail service station, and two pet areas.  One of the pet areas features a 1,000 square-foot fenced in park, equipped with biodegradable bags located at the Ground Transportation area.

With sustainability being the key concept when building the Atlanta airport, contractors were required to use recycled and regionally produced materials. Source-separated recycling and composting containers are also placed throughout the entire airport to promote recycling. Restrooms are comprised of low-flow fixtures, along with extremely efficient heating and cooling systems that aid in cutting water usage and saving over 40,000 gallons each year. Perhaps the most unique feature of the green-friendly airport is its water recovery initiative. The airport houses a 25,000 cubic-foot “water box” that accumulates rainwater and filters it before discharging it back into the environment, helping to reduce the building’s environmental impact on the neighboring groundwater.

Interior designs of the popular Atlanta airport feature sweeping lines of the building’s ceiling, along with open, light and airy spaces in order to create a feel of travel.  The building design represents an uncomplicated design that emphasizes environmental mindfulness and sustainability. The large glass windows allow passengers to view landings and takeoffs while waiting to board their flight, creating an exciting atmosphere while allowing for cost-efficient natural lighting to engulf the airport. These large glass panels are also insulated to help conserve energy. Perhaps the most exciting part of the airport’s interior design is the colors reminiscent of Georgia red clay; colors of tan, gray, honey, dark blue, and red.

Newest construction efforts aim to provide a safer, more convenient roadway system to sustain the airport’s large volume of travelers. The plan includes widening roadways, improving weaving conditions, creating ways to avoid blockage, building new over and underpasses, curbs, and barrier walls. When the new roadways are completed, helpful lighting and directory signage will be added where necessary. The expected completion of the project is set for January 2015. Renovation of Concourse C has also been estimated for completion in spring of 2015, with improvements that will transform approximately 52,000 square feet of space into an area consisting of concession stands and more circulation space for the large flow of traffic that it sees daily.