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Walsh Austin Joint Venture


The largest public works project in Los Angeles’ history continues to take shape. Crews are expanding the footprint of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as the $1.2 billion project enters its second year of construction. Walsh Austin Joint Venture, a union of contractors Walsh Construction and Austin Com­mercial, is serving as construction manager on the project, which broke ground in 2010. The project includes adding more than 1 million square feet to the existing facility by expanding the terminal and building two new concourses, Project Principal Joe Thompson says.

“The construction of this truly  iconic structure for the city of Los Angeles is exciting, and we take pride in delivering it,” he adds.

The project is expected to create 4,000 construction-related jobs, more than 90 percent of which will be filled from workers from southern California, airport owner Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) says.

Terminal Features

The expanded terminal will include additional food and beverage concessions, premium lounge space, enlarged federal inspection and border protection facilities, 16 new boarding gates and enlarged passenger seating areas.

The majority of the concourse buildings will be three stories with a basement level, while the main terminal building is six stories.

Once completed in 2013, the terminal will be better able to accommodate newer aircraft such as the two-level Airbus A380, Thompson says. 

A portion of the existing  terminal building will be renovated after the new addition is completed. That work will be finished in 2014, he adds.

Construction of the new concourses is taking place mere feet away from an existing concourse, which will continue to operate during construction. 

The current concourse will be demolished and  become apron for the new facility upon completion, Thompson says. 

No service interruptions are planned during construction. 

“During the entire phased construction process, the International Terminal  will always have available, at a minimum, the same amount of gates they had prior to construction,” Thompson says.

A Striking Design

The new terminal’s striking design will feature a steel structure with exterior walls made up of a unitized glass curtain wall, Thompson says. The terminal’s roof is designed to look like waves breaking on the California coast, an effect achieved through large curved roof trusses, roofed with continuous curved standing seam metal and sloping glass clerestories. 

The core of the new building will feature a “grand hall” with a 110-foot-high ceiling that passengers will enter after clearing security checkpoints. Crews are currently building the steel trusses that will support the terminal’s roof, Thompson adds.

The grand hall has plans to include an integrated environment media system (IEMS), featuring a more than 70-foot-high collection of LED monitors that can function and appear as a single giant screen. This IEMS element will enclose three sides of the main  double elevator shaft in the hall. “This is a dynamic, massive feature they’re adding to the facility to improve the passenger experience,” Thompson says. 

The project is designed to achieve LEED Silver designation from the U.S. Green Building Council. Walsh Austin JV has 25 project site team members who are LEED accredited.  Environmentally friendly practices include the use of a landfill diversion program keeping more than 75 percent of the construction waste out of landfills, utilizing products with recycled content and low VOCs.

Construction is following LAWA’s sustainable design and construction guidelines to minimize adverse environmental impact. Guidelines include designating specific routes construction vehicle must use when traveling, retrofitting construction equipment with emission and noise-reduction devices, and controlling dust, LAWA says.

LAWA and Walsh Austin JV are working to ensure safety on the project. “Our safety program is behavior-based; its sole purpose is not to catch and punish violators, but to proactively train and inform every single employee to create the best safety culture possible,” Thompson says. Every tradesman on site must complete a 10-hour OSHA safety course; management staff needs to complete a 30-hour course. Safety events and special training sessions are also common.

Experienced Counterparts

This is not the only airport project where Walsh and Austin have joined forces. The joint venture recently completed  the new terminal construction project at Sacramento International Airport, Thompson says. 

Both joint venture partners, individually,  also have extensive experience with airport projects  across the United States. 

Thompson says the JV features an experienced team of people from both companies, including key team members,  Construction Manager Kevan Moize and Lead Superintendent Bill Wallace. “The joint venture partners complement each other very well and believe we bring the best of builders and management together, to deliver difficult construction projects  on an extremely tight schedule,” Thompson says.

Talented Subcontractors

Experienced subcontractors, including small, local and minority-owned firms, are also playing a major role in the success of the project.

“This is a very challenging and difficult project; all of the subcontractors and vendors have stepped up and contributed, and no one is acting out of only their own interest,” Thompson says. “Everyone’s coming together to ensure the success of the project.”

The team sees its consultants and subcontractors as additional links in one chain, it says. “We collaborate with our providers as partners working toward common goals, and we add value to our relationships with minority/woman-owned, local/regional or disadvantaged businesses through such initiatives as leveling the playing field for them, mentoring them in developing their businesses and working at airports,” the venture adds.

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