Designed to fulfill the challenging need of relocating and consolidating rental car operations and public parking onto limited airport land, the new O’Hare multimodal transportation center makes adaptive reuse of a previous parking lot. It provides direct connection to the airport transit system and to all terminals, as well as to existing bus and Metra rails with access to downtown Chicago.
Overall, the immense complex required 6,600 precast concrete pieces, including columns, beams, slabs, double tees, stairs, walls, and spandrel panels, according to Christopher Everett, Director of Project Management for Illini Precast, LLC. who discussed the project with PCI-IW on behalf of Illini.
“The scale and the logistics of designing, producing, transporting, erecting, and detailing over 6,000 pieces of precast from various Midwest plant locations, all on a schedule constantly impacted by weather and varying site conditions,” says Illini, “made this project most exceptional and exciting.”
The joint-use parking facility is a five-story structure. The first three stories contain a Consolidated Rental Car Facility (CRCF) or CONRAC covering 1.5 million ft2 and including 4,365 parking stalls for 13 rental car brands. The top two floors, covering 1.0 million ft2, provide 2,624 covered parking stalls for public parking.
The top floor of the CRFC is designed so that they can be expanded up to four additional levels in the future. “The garage can be added to vertically and,” Illini adds, “the moment columns on the interior of the garage, made of 15,000 psi concrete, allow for more span and space.”
The Customer Service Center (CSC), located on level four, includes self-serve kiosks, counters for rental car transactions and 50,000 ft2 of retail space. It is adjacent to a new 430-foot long by 60-foot wide Airport Transit System (ATS) station. This project included a 1,800- lineal feet extension of the ATS line, a 24-hour rail system that serves terminals, as well providing a new plaza accommodating bus services, off-airport hotel shuttles, and public roadways.
The QTA facility is a three-story, 240,000 ft2 building that contains rental car administration offices and services such as fueling and car washing.
The development also included renovation of an existing, remote train Maintenance and Storage Facility (M&SF), as well as modifications to access and egress ramps connecting to and from existing roads, site improvements to existing surface parking lots, and a new roadway bridge.
“Design criteria for the [garage] project requested an open interior, but [construction that was] able to handle the live, dead, and snow loads of such a large garage,” say Illini. Innovative design using precast for helixes and for the QTA to handle heavy loads was the solution, he notes. The precast helixes also allow for separate access to certain levels of the garage.Kirk Wagenbach, Project Manager for CONRAC, felt that the precast helixes were a unique challenge to this project. Wagenbach stated that while the precast helixes were challenging they ultimately turned out to be great success and hopes future developers will take advantage of the flexibility of precast design.
Precast construction was selected, says Illini, because of its design efficiency, ability for fast delivery of finished product, and reduced cost. “Efficient precast design reduced waste and consumed less raw materials,” Illini notes, “and use of higher strength concrete with systems poured in a controlled plant environment allowed for consistent reinforcement placement and structural finishes.”
In addition to the durability and reduced waste benefits of precast, the project touts numerous sustainable design features such as a solar farm, integrated photovoltaics, low energy light fixtures, native landscaping, and a 68,125 ft2 green roof on the QTA building. To provide natural light and ventilation, the CRCF design includes two 60-foot wide courtyards planted with evergreen and deciduous trees. At the ATS area, extensive exterior overhangs provide depth and shadow as well as sun screening and protection from the elements.
As an open air garage, drainage and security systems used are standard, including graded floor strips with drains through double-tees at coordinated locations that take water out of the building, camera monitoring, smart lighting, pull stations and call buttons. Garage floors, according to Everett, are mostly untopped, with the exception of drainage pour strips and various topping slabs at ramps and helix ramps.
Precast Erection Maintains Schedule
Precast erection required lifting precast components with a 350-ton crane. Operating under the FAA maximum 190-foot height restriction due to the proximity to O’Hare runways, the crane required a 220-foot boom. “Our goal was to place 20 to 25 pieces a day,” says Illini, “and we pretty much maintained that pace. There were a lot of curves and odd pieces to make up.”
Construction started on the 33-acre project in May 2015 and is scheduled for completion at the end of 2018.
*Austin Power Partners (APP) – a joint venture made up of Austin Commercial, based in Dallas, Power Construction Co. LLC, and minority partner Ujamaa Construction, Inc., both based in Chicago – was awarded a Construction Manager At-Risk contract for the rental car and parking facility construction project. Parsons Construction Group, Loveland, Ohio, was awarded the construction project to modernize and expand the ATS.