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Image for San Diego International Airport  Terminal 2 Parking Plaza Photography by Tom Paiva

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority awarded the Swinerton/Watry Design, Inc. team a project to realize their vision for a new “front door” to Terminal 2. The resulting Parking Plaza will not only provide extremely convenient parking, but also a unique quintessential San Diegan experience by providing areas on the top level to enjoy the amazing harbor and downtown views. The plaza will provide a high end experience for both departing and returning passengers including multiple public art components and a camera based Parking Guidance System that will direct incoming patrons to an open space and help them find their car upon return. In addition, graphics and wayfinding featuring San Diegan themes will be incorporated along with a cascading express ramp that will minimize travel time between floors. Cutting edge, smart technology will also be leveraged to reserve spaces in advance either online or with a mobile app, which will reduce circulation and idling times. 

Image for San Diego International Airport  Terminal 2 Parking Plaza

After the project was awarded, the team set out to select and design a cost effective structural system for the site's challenging soils and to develop strong relationships with the project's multitude of stakeholders. The first step was to validate the extensive programming document that the Authority had compiled. This was accomplished by meeting with each stakeholder on a regular basis over the course of three months. The meetings were scheduled to coincide with the progression of the conceptual design and often occurred several times a week. The collaborative process allowed for the design to be streamlined while maintaining the greatest value for the Airport.  Follow up meetings were conducted with each stakeholder to present the design and receive confirmation that the needs and interests of each stakeholder had been successfully addressed.  The mutual respect and trust formed with the stakeholders during this time has greatly contributed  to keeping the project on schedule and budget.   

During the Validation Phase, it was discovered that an underground AT&T line ran along the edge of the proposed Parking Plaza structure. Since moving the line would impact the project both from a financial and a schedule perspective, the design build team and the Authority collaborated  to evaluate alternatives and concluded that modifying the edge of the Parking Plaza’s design away from the AT&T line was the best alternative.  This solution not only represented a significant cost savings, but also lead to a functional redesign that is more efficient. 

Image for San Diego International Airport  Terminal 2 Parking Plaza Public art in the form of metal trees is being installed over the Parking Plaza's lightwells.

Also during this time, the design build team prepared a report to aid in the selection of the best structural system for the Parking Plaza. The design build team investigated three primary framing systems, 1) Cast-in-Place Post-tensioned, 2) Pre-Cast Hybrid, and 3) Double T precast. We studied how each of these framing systems affected the cost, schedule, interior environment, sustainability, long term durability, architectural finish, MEP systems, and the site logistics. Ultimately, the design build  team including the owner chose to use a cast-in-place post-tensioned system. Since the structural system often accounts for more than half of the project’s construction cost, this analysis set the tone for bringing the budget in line. 

Since the site contains soil that is susceptible to liquefaction during a major seismic event, special care was also given to developing the foundation system. In conjunction with selecting a structural system, Watry Design worked with the Geotechnical Engineer to develop several foundation design alternates that would support the building effectively while mitigating the potential of up to 3” of settlement due to liquefaction. The best solution was to use precast concrete, pre-stressed driven piles that extend into the firm bearing strata which varied between 30’ and 40’ below the surface elevation. As a result of the due diligence in examining multiple foundation solutions, the Design Build team was able to save over $2 million in construction costs. In keeping with the Authority’s sustainability goals, the design build team is managing the Parksmart certification throughout the design process. Sustainable Best Practices include features such as energy efficient lighting and EV charging stations.

The project's scope includes reconfiguration of the adjacent NTC parking lot and extensive planning for connections to the surrounding area.

Winner of:

  • 2018 San Diego Green Building Council Parksmart Honor Award
  • 2018 San Diego Green Building Council ZNEnergy Citation Award
  • 2018 CODAawards Merit Honors in Transportation
  • 2018 San Diego AIA Energy Efficient & Integration Award
  • 2018 American Council of Engineering Companies California Engineering Excellence Honor Award

Project Details

  • Owner: San Diego Regional Airport Authority
  • Design Architect: Gensler
  • Contractor: Swinerton Builders
  • Project Status: Completed 2018
  • Parking Stalls: 2,683 structured, 224 on-grade
  • Levels: 3
  • Total Sq Ft: 924,200
  • Sq Ft per Stall: 344
  • Total Project Cost: $99,728,406