O’Hare Consolidated Car Rental Facility

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Program: Joint Use Consolidated Rental Car, Public Parking, Bus + ATS Facility
Status: In Design, Expected Completion 2018
Collaborative Partners: TranSystems Corporation
Cost: $400,000,000
Size: 3,000,000 gsf

The consolidated car rental facility (CONRAC) and parking structure is a multimodal transportation center combining airline, light transit, rail, bus, shuttle as well as both rental and privately owned vehicles at one location to facilitate travel within the Chicago region and to destinations throughout the world. Three (3) floors are dedicated to rental car operations, three (3) floors to public parking, and additional floors of public parking in the future. At more than 3 million gross square feet, the facility will become one of the largest structures in the Midwest. The functional and visual focal point of the building is the Customer Service Center and the Airport Transit System station. The design combines these two operations into one space that creates another “terminal” for the airport.

At its core, O’Hare is about speed, movement, connections and transitions. The exterior is designed to exhibit these qualities with an envelope that responds and changes to the both the environment and as the person travels in relationship to the building. Functionally, the CONRAC and public parking needs to be a permeable container with natural ventilation to avoid expensive mechanical systems. The exterior will take advantage of daylighting but also reduce the light pollution from the artificial lighting and vehicle headlights. The exterior screening is a low cost solution that provides depth, shadow and movement meeting all the functional criteria while transforming a utilitarian structure into something beautiful and dynamic.

To humanize the structured parking, the facility features two (2) 60-foot wide courtyards planted with evergreen and deciduous trees. The courtyards’ many benefits include providing natural light, ventilation, and wayfinding. The openings aid in orienting the visitor by breaking-up each level of the floor plate into three (3) sections. They act as visual landmarks and an obvious circulation path to the CSC and ATS station. In addition, each courtyard is unique visually to cue individuals to which end of the facility they parked their car.