Details

Keywords Change this

Airport

Project timeline

1989 – 1995

Type

Infrastructure

Location Change this

Denver
USA

Also known as Change this

DIA

Architect Change this

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Article last edited by Maria Thuroczy on
January 26th, 2015

Denver International Airport Change this

1 of 3

Description Change this

Denver International Airport (IATA: DEN, ICAO: KDEN, FAA LID: DEN), often referred to as DIA, is an airport in Denver, Colorado. At 34,000 acres (53 sq mi), it is the largest airport in the United States by total area. Runway 16R/34L is the longest public use runway in the United States. In 2013, DIA was the 15th-busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic with 52,556,359 passengers.

As of 2014 the airport is the 15th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic and sixth busiest in the world by aircraft movements. DIA has non-stop service to destinations throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. The airport is in northeastern Denver and is operated by the City & County of Denver Department of Aviation. DIA was voted Best Airport in North America by readers of Business Traveler Magazine six years in a row (2005–2010) and was named "America's Best Run Airport" by Time Magazine in 2002.

DIA is the main hub for low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines and commuter carrier Great Lakes Airlines. It is also the fourth-largest and Central US hub for United Airlines, and a major focus city for Southwest Airlines. Since commencing service to Denver in January 2006, Southwest has added over 50 destinations, making Denver its fastest-growing market. DIA is the only airport in the United States to have implemented an ISO 14001-certified environmental management system covering the entire airport.

Aesthetics

The Jeppesen Terminal's internationally recognized peaked roof, designed by Fentress Bradburn Architects, is reflective of snow-capped mountains and evokes the early history of Colorado when Native American teepees were located across the Great Plains. The catenary steel cable system, similar to the Brooklyn Bridge design, supports the fabric roof. DIA is also known for a pedestrian bridge connecting the terminal to Concourse A that allows travelers to view planes taxiing beneath them and has views of the Rocky Mountains to the West and the high plains to the East.

Design and expandability

Denver has traditionally been home to one of the busier airports in the nation because of its location. Many airlines including United Airlines, Western Airlines, the old Frontier Airlines and People Express were hubbed in Denver and there was also a significant Southwest Airlines operation at the old Stapleton International Airport. At times, Denver was a hub for three or four airlines. The main reasons that justified the construction of DIA included the fact that gate space was severely limited at Stapleton, and the Stapleton runways were unable to deal efficiently with Denver's weather and wind patterns, causing nationwide travel disruption. The project began with Perez Architects and was completed by Fentress Bradburn Architects of Denver, Pouw & Associates of Arvada, CO, and Bertram A. Bruton & Associates of Denver. The signature DIA profile, suggestive of the snow capped Rocky Mountains, was first hand sketched by Design Director Curtis W. Fentress. Seized upon by then Mayor, Federico Peña, as the iconic form he was looking for – "similar to the Sydney Opera House" – DIA's design as well as its user-optimized curbside-to-airside navigation has won DIA global acclaim and propelled its designer, Fentress, to one of the foremost airport designers in the world. Fentress Architects is currently at work on the modernization of LAX. The concourses were designed by a joint venture of The Richardson Associates and The Allred Fisher Seracuse Lawler Partnership.

With the construction of DIA, Denver was determined to build an airport that could be easily expanded over the next 50 years to eliminate many of the problems that had plagued Stapleton International Airport. This was achieved by designing an easily expandable midfield terminal and concourses, creating one of the most efficient airfields in the world.

At 34,000 acres (140 km2) , DIA is by far the largest land area commercial airport in the United States. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is a distant second at 78 square kilometres (30 sq mi). The 327-foot (100 m) control tower is one of the tallest in North America. The airfield is arranged in a pinwheel formation around the midfield terminal and concourses. This layout allows independent flow of aircraft to and from each runway without any queuing or overlap with other runways, as well as allowing air traffic patterns to be adjusted to avoid crosswinds, regardless of wind direction. Additional runways can be added as needed, up to a maximum of 12 runways. Denver currently has four north/south runways (35/17 Left and Right; 34/16 Left and Right) and two east/west runways (7/25 and 8/26).

DIA's sixth runway (16R/34L) is the longest commercial precision-instrument runway in North America with a length of 16,000 feet (4,877 m). Compared to other DIA runways, the extra 4,000-foot (1,200 m) length allows fully loaded jumbo jets such as the Boeing 747 or Airbus A380 to take off in Denver's mile-high altitude during summer months, thereby providing unrestricted global access for any airline using DIA.

The midfield concourses allow passengers to be screened in a central location efficiently and then transported via the underground people mover to three different passenger concourses. Unlike Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport upon which the midfield design was based, Concourses B and C are not connected by any kind of walkway; they are only accessible via train.

The taxiways at Denver have been positioned so that each of the midfield concourses can expand significantly before reaching the taxiways. Concourse B, used by United Airlines, is longer than the other two concourses, but all three concourses can be expanded as needed. Once this expansion is exhausted, space has been reserved for future Concourses D and E.

All international flights requiring customs and immigration services currently fly into Concourse A. Currently eight gates are used for international flights. These north facing gates on Concourse A are equipped to divert incoming passengers to a hallway which connects to the upper level of the air bridge, and enters Customs and Immigration in the north side of the Jeppesen Terminal. These gates could also be easily modified to accommodate the Airbus A380 and other large planes by allowing simultaneous boarding on both the upper deck and the lower deck.

As part of the original design of the airport the city specified passenger volume "triggers" that would lead to a redevelopment of the master plan and possible new construction to make sure the airport is able to meet Denver's needs. The city hit its first-phase capacity threshold in 2008, and DIA is currently revising the master plan. As part of the master plan update, the airport announced selection of Parsons Corporation to design a new hotel, rail station and two bridges leading into the main terminal. Santiago Calatrava has been selected as the architect for the project. In addition, before hitting the 60 million passenger volume trigger, the airport is planning on constructing an additional runway, 20+ new gates on the existing concourses, two additional International Gates as well as improvements to the baggage system and passenger train.

Once fully built out, DIA should be able to handle 110 million passengers per year, up from 32 million at its opening.

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