San Francisco International Airport (SF0) held a community open house today for its remodeled Terminal 2. Sitting at the center of the airport's main core just below the control tower, the 14-gate, 640,000-square foot facility will be home to Virgin America and American Airlines when it opens on April 14. SFO officials are quick to point out that Terminal 2 has achieved Gold Certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
First opened in 1954, Terminal 2 served as SFO's main terminal for many years. As the airport grew, it later became the international concourse until SFO opened its present International Terminal in December, 2000. The building was then closed until 2008 when SFO began a $383 million renovation that completely gutted the structure.
Pictured here is the terminal's departure level. Passengers can be dropped off right at the curb or access the terminal via a pedestrian bridge from the parking garage and airport train. The art installation above the entrance on the right side is composed of 120 pieces of laminated glass panels that change color depending on the light and the viewer's perspective. Designed by Seattle-based artist Norie Sato, "Air Over Under" shows an airplane wing flying above rolling clouds.
Just inside is the terminal's main entrance hall. Plentiful natural light made for an inviting space that eased the transition from outside to in. Multiple monitors display flight information while the check-in desks line short halls on either side.
Artist Kendall Buster made the sculpture hanging above. Titled "Topograph," it could have multiple interpretations, from clouds to a topographic map.
As mentioned, SFO endeavored to make Terminal 2 as Green as possible. Among the eco-friendly initiatives are preferential parking for electrical and hybrid vehicles, a dual plumbing system that pipes reclaimed water to toilets, and energy efficient lighting. Through these measures, SFO is pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 1,667 tons per year.
The green theme continues right down to the passenger level as well. At two stations around the terminal, passengers are invited to refill existing water bottles rather than buying new ones.
Recycling, of course, is a central part of Terminal 2's eco-friendly efforts. SFO is requiring all food vendors to use biodegradable tableware and separate all food service for recycling or compost. By 2020, SFO plans to recycle 90 percent of its waste.
The recycling efforts even started with Terminal 2's construction. By using an existing building, the airport said it was able to reduce 12,300 tons of carbon dioxide. Also, the project's contractors recycled 90 percent of construction and demolition debris.
Like SFO's other terminals, Terminal 2 highlights branches of Bay Area restaurants. You'll find outlets of Peet's Coffee, Burger Joint, Andale, Lark Creek Grill, and Plant Cafe. And don't worry, there's a Starbucks as well.
Napa Farms Market is one of the more appetizing food outlets in the Terminal. Inside is a rotisserie grill by chef Tyler Florence and a gourmet market featuring locally produced food and beverages.
If you're flying economy class and don't care to pay for airline food, Napa Farms Market exhibits the "farm-to-flight" concept where you can pick up prepared meals and bring them onboard. Salads and sandwiches are the norm, but you also can buy cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. How you're supposed to keep it fresh on the plane ride home is another matter.
SFO is encouraging all food vendors to use sustainable seafood, cage-free and antibiotic eggs, organic produce and meats, non-hydrogenated oils, fair trade coffee, and milk free of rBST hormones. As you might expect, there's no Burger King here.
The ubiquitous newsstand sells magazines and last-minute souvenirs. Parts of Terminal 2 did feel like a bit like a mall, but that's true for for most newer airports around the world.
Other shops include Compass Books, Kiehl's, Mango, a spa, and I-Tech X-Perience, where you can experience interactive gaming. More perplexing was the Mosaic Gallery, which sold large glass sculptures. We can't decide if it would be better to store them under your seat or in the overhead compartment.