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Behind the curtain of a Successful Airport Progressive Design Build Project: Terminal 2 Parking Plaza at San Diego International Airport

Image of Behind the curtain of a Successful Airport Progressive Design Build Project: Terminal 2 Parking Plaza at San Diego International Airport

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly four years since we started discussing the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority’s plans to build a Parking Plaza at San Diego International Airport and pontificating about what differentiated a parking plaza from a parking structure.

As we prepare for the project’s first day of operation on May 18, we find ourselves reminiscing about how this unique project evolved. From the early pursuit to the “One Team” culture we created to how our foundation of teambuilding and collaboration was so uniquely suited to a progressive design build delivery process. 

One of the keys to this process was the in depth validation phase we went through to not only build consensus with the stakeholders on the extensive program, but also create a shared vision of the finished project. This is where we tackled the question of: what would set the Parking Plaza apart from a standard parking structure? 

Did you guess the answer correctly? The differentiator is the experience. The Airport Authority wanted to enhance the passenger experience not only by providing convenient parking right at the front door of Terminal 2, but also through the careful design and use of technology to significantly improve upon the overall customer experience. 

We hope you will attend our DBIA Western Pacific Region Conference panel on May 17th, where we look behind the curtain at what contributed to the success of this project. For those of you unable to attend, watch for the Insight on 

Image of Behind the curtain of a Successful Airport Progressive Design Build Project: Terminal 2 Parking Plaza at San Diego International Airport

For now, let us share that the new Parking Plaza provides 2,683 stalls and puts the customer first by offering state of the art technology, a convenient location and an environment designed for people - not just cars. Before passengers even arrive at the airport, they have the ability to reserve spaces in advance online or through a mobile app. 

Upon arrival, passengers and visitors are greeted by an adaptable PARCS system that provides flexible payment options, a variable pricing structure and rewards for frequent travelers. In addition to dynamic signage that identifies how many spaces are available per level, a red and green light parking guidance system identifies space-by space availability to take the stress out of finding an available parking space. What to know more about the technology? The design build team will be speaking at the National Parking Association Conference this fall.

Once users have transitioned from drivers to pedestrians, the Parking Plaza is designed to provide a uniquely San Diegan experience. The top level of the structure provides magnificent views of the harbor and downtown. Three expansive light wells clad with a unique and expansive public art component overlook courtyards that provide a relaxing transition from the structure to the terminal. On their return trip, passengers are greeted at each of the Plaza’s three pedestrian entrances with a whimsical art installation. 

Stay tuned because over the months to come we will be revealing more information. From our celebrations to special interest pieces, you will soon have the opportunity to explore the unique artwork and even take a virtual tour so that you can decide for yourself if the Swinerton|Watry|Gensler team achieved the Airport Authority’s “Parking Plaza Vision.”

About the Authors

Michael Pendergrass, AIA, a licensed architect in 7 states, has over 15 years of experience in delivering parking solutions and over 20 in the industry. He has worked on a wide variety of parking projects. In addition to delivering projects to satisfied clients, Michael’s projects have received recognition from the International Parking & Mobility Institute and other organizations. 

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With over 10 years of experience in structural engineering, Jason has led or contributed to over 4 million square feet of standalone and podium parking structures. His highly relevant experience includes projects such as the San Diego Airport Terminal 2 Parking Plaza.

As a Watry Design, Inc. Project Manager, Jason will be the primary contact and is responsible for achieving the goals of the client. His experience includes all phases of design, from Preliminary Design through Construction Documents. He is an active member of the International Parking Institute and Design Build Institute of America.

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