The airports of the future will have high-tech features that make the flying experience less stressful and more enjoyable, and Dallas is playing a role in that transformation.
Architects and designers at Corgan, which is headquartered in downtown Dallas, are working on major airports around the world, including Shanghai, London and Chicago. They also designed Dallas Love Field and Terminal D at DFW International Airport.
Among the projects Corgan is working on is the advent of flying taxis. Uber hopes to start testing them in North Texas soon. "We're looking at how it can be integrated into Love Field," said architect Samantha Flores.
Flores also describes other futuristic changes that are likely to land at airports soon. Facial recognition technology will do away with the need for an actual boarding pass. Cell phones will communicate with items travelers want to purchase, eliminating lines. Restrooms will even alert airport workers as soon as they need to be cleaned.
Architects use many different tools to develop ideas and concepts. Augmented reality glasses let them see how new features would look in existing facilities. Virtual reality goggles let them start from scratch and envision something entirely new. Some research happens in the real world, like an "age suit" that designers wear to simulate how the airport experience feels for older travelers.
Corgan's work at Love Field has caught the attention of planners in other cities. "We give tours constantly," said Mark Duebner, the city's Aviation Director. But work at Love is not finished, even though the rebuilt terminal is only six years old. Corgan is working on several projects to improve Love further. "When I go around and talk to my colleagues who work at other airports, there's a little envy in their voice," Duebner says.
Different airports will adopt different features over the next several years. But Flores has little doubt that some of the most futuristic ideas will become reality. "It's actually going to happen," she said. And when it does, there's a good chance that Dallas will have played a role.