O’Hare Airport design competition


Chicago, IL

Omni Ecosystems joined the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill team behind this bold, honest design proposal for a new Global Terminal at O’Hare International Airport. Our team was among five finalists selected to participate in the influential, international design competition organized by the City of Chicago.

Our team’s design emphasizes sustainability, improving the passenger experience, and enhancing airport operations. Inspired by O’Hare’s ecological history as “Orchard Field,” where the airport’s call signal “ORD” originated, the new Global Terminal is defined by light-filled spaces and amenities that reflect Chicago’s cultural heritage and vision for the future.

Omni’s design contribution includes an array of innovative, immersive green infrastructure that creates moments for relaxation and contributes to sustainability goals.

Upon entering the terminal, passengers are welcomed to a soaring, double-height gathering space, where clear sight lines lead through check-in and security. Skylights deliver an even, diffused light throughout, reducing the building’s environmental footprint. The check-in, security and baggage claim halls are covered by a single, undulating, lattice-like long-span roof punctuated by skylights and supported by a series of elegant tree-like columns, recalling the site’s history as an orchard

To either side of the check-in hall, visitors are invited to take pause in a landscaped prairie replete with local Illinois plants and grasses, offering opportunities for respite.

The Orchard gate concourse reimagines the airport waiting room experience. Here, you can go outside in a tree-lined garden open to the sky while waiting for your flight, and read a book while resting in a hammock. Infusing the concourse with greenery from the outside in, the airport is transformed into a place of rejuvenation. 

The Orchard combines the best Chicago has to offer with a design led by a team with unparalleled local and international expertise. Designed for seamless operation of the powerful hub in Chicago for the nation’s top two airlines and their alliance partners, the Orchard exemplifies the goals of the O’Hare 21 expansion plan. As the O’Hare campus grows, the Orchard will cultivate the airport’s success, allowing for future expansion and change, providing financial viability, maximizing design efficiency, and serving our shared environment.

Renderings courtesy of SOM.