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A collaborative effort bearing fruit

Innovative design decisions: the look of the new airport is subject to feedback from many groups

When OBMI was selected by Aecon as the local architectural firm for phase one of the proposed Airport Redevelopment Project, we appreciated being recognised as local experts that could help to build something not only practical but also something that Bermuda could be proud of for the next few generations.

Collaboration is key to this project’s success. To this end, the design team is working to create an open process working with a broad spectrum of stakeholders. It’s clear, the project is building momentum.

Innovative design decisions are being considered in consultation with many people across Bermuda with a wide range of interest or concerns. The team has heard from representatives of numerous government agencies and departments: non-profit and foundations serving the island’s diverse populations; businesses and professional associations from concerned industries, including transportation, tourism, energy, commerce and, of course, aviation; leaders of community and labour groups; plus, individuals representing a broad spectrum of public interests.

Drawing upon this valuable input, the design team is developing designs to create an airport that will show how special we believe this island is in every way. The proposed plans create a uniquely Bermudian ambience with plenty of natural light, vibrant colours and culturally relevant art and design reflecting our rich heritage. Bermudians love to travel, and part of that experience is being exposed to the latest airport retail trends. Services and shopping will be expanded at the new airport, and an appetising array of dining options will help to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. We want to incorporate the same tools and comforts that Bermudians find in other airports. The new airport will also have modern, sensible conveniences that are commonplace elsewhere, like wheelchair access via passenger-boarding bridges and other accessibility features for physically challenged travellers — demonstrating our renowned hospitality as soon as people come off the aircraft.

Some of the most notable feedback we have received is that visitors regard Bermuda as akin to “a verdant garden in the azure sea”. We are incorporating this perception and using landscape as an important element in distinguishing Bermuda as a destination. To this end, the new airport will include calming outdoor experiences with open-air terraces scented by an abundant mixture of endemic, native and exotic flowers and foliage. Landscaping will not only make the airport more inviting, but it can help to minimise operational and maintenance costs.

Vegetation can provide cover from the elements, buffering the facilities from inclement weather and windborne salt, and shading from the sun. It can even protect our coastline by filtering runoff. The facility’s new location optimises the efficiencies of the landscape.

We are consulting with industry partners to leverage the island’s natural assets for an intelligent design that creatively addresses the challenges of the existing airport — most importantly, prohibitive costs. We’re looking at recycled materials, for example, as a resource for planting areas. We will source soil and plantings on-island, instead of importing them, and employ Bermudian landscapers, who are familiar with endemic and native plants, and local conditions. We will be using as many sustainable solutions as possible to build an environmentally friendly and socially conscious project.

Airport design can help to shape a destination’s image. As we write this, many countries around the Caribbean and the world are investing in updated airports. These countries understand that travellers have particular global expectations and standards. Investing in the airport as a gateway to the island will demonstrate that the island is serious about attracting visitors. OBMI sees our role in this project as being part of a larger team to build Bermuda’s future. And, since we’re building something completely new, rather than trying to retrofit solutions to existing structures, the new airport will be seen not just as a gateway for travel but also as a model of forward-thinking design principles that connects people.

OBMI is proud to be part of the Aecon team in delivering this landmark project for Bermuda. We are grateful as Bermudians to see the level of genuine local engagement that incorporates familiar Bermuda design characteristics in a modern development.

As our combined design team progresses and prepares for the unveiling of new designs, we all continue to welcome your thoughts on what you would like to see at Bermuda’s new airport. Please visit the AeconBermuda page on Facebook to submit suggestions or to read more about the project.

Colin Campbell is the regional director of OBMI. The redevelopment of L.F. Wade International Airport is being explored under an agreement between the governments of Canada and Bermuda. The Canadian Commercial Corporation is a Crown corporation for the Government of Canada and brings expertise in international contracting for complex purchases and the experience to select highly capable suppliers, such as Aecon. Aecon Group Inc (TSX: ARE) is a Canadian leader in construction and infrastructure development providing integrated turnkey services to private and public sector clients through its Concessions division. The Bermuda office of OBMI is a consultant to Aecon