Chicago Department of Aviation

O'Hare 21 Terminal Area Plan
Completed in 2018
Chicago, IL
Project Facts
At $8.5B, O’Hare 21 is the largest capital expansion in the Chicago Department of Aviation’s history.

Landrum & Brown

Full Case Study:

O’Hare 21 is the largest capital expansion in the Chicago Department of Aviation’s (CDA) history. We provided controls support to the master planning team to help the CDA prepare for implementation of the Terminal Area Plan component of the $8.5B O’Hare 21 Terminal Redevelopment Program.

Client Background

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) was established to manage Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway International Airports. Together, these airports generate more than $45B in economic activity annually and create more than 540,000 jobs. Landrum and Brown is a global firm that specializes in aviation planning and development and has been doing so for more than 70 years. Landrum and Brown has been a trusted advisor to the CDA for the last several decades and is currently providing master planning services for the O’Hare 21 program.

About the Project

After nearly two decades since it’s last major capital improvement program, the $8.5B O’Hare 21 Terminal Redevelopment Program was announced by the CDA. The program promises to transform the airport into a ‘modern, 21st century global gateway’. It will provide improved service, expanded gate capacity, enhanced technology, new amenities; and 60,000+ jobs for the community. The Terminal Area Plan (TAP) is one of several projects that are part of O’Hare 21. TAP Phase 1 improvements include: adding 25% more gate capacity, modernizing and replacing the oldest terminal facilities; integrating domestic and international terminal operations; and upgrading facilities to improve the passenger experience.


In Spring 2017, the CDA, knowing that they had one year until their 35-year airline use and lease agreements expired, wanted the planned Phase 1 Terminal Area Plan improvements to be a consideration during the re-negotiation because revenue from use and lease agreements was the primary funding source for Phase 1 of the TAP program. Landrum & Brown had worked with Guenther Preuhs of Ascent to deliver the O’Hare World Gateway Program and when they recognized the type of analysis needed to support the use and lease agreement (U&LA) negotiations they called on Ascent for controls services to support their master planning efforts.

How does Ascent Help?

Working on team led by Landrum and Brown, Ascent provided program controls and construction planning services including the development of the initial Master Program Schedule and related Construction Phasing/Sequencing Plan. This provided CDA with realistic assumptions to facilitate decision making which in turn formed the basis for successful U&LA negotiations with the airlines, paving the way for this transformational capital expansion program at O’Hare. Ascent also supported the regulatory approval process of the TAP Program by conducting Construction Impact Analysis in support of the FAA’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) air quality approval process. The analysis included the estimation of all construction equipment to be used over the course of the planned TAP program duration. In addition, the Ascent team supported the CDA with TAP program related tender documents.


In Spring 2018, the Mayor of Chicago announced that new use and lease agreements had been signed by the Chicago Department of Aviation and its airline partners, launching the largest capital expansion in the history of O’Hare International Airport. Ascent had a small but critical role that enabled the signing of the use and lease agreements which made Phase 1 of this program possible. Applying our program controls expertise during the master planning phase of the project achieved several outcomes for the Chicago Department of Aviation:

– Provided the airlines a realistic view of the anticipated schedule and budget projections to support the negotiations of their new use and lease agreements

– Provided the Program Delivery team with the right controls tools to build off of and measure against for the duration of the project

– Established a Preliminary Program Schedule minimizing disruption to ongoing airport operations, allowing CDA’s mission to provide world class services and amenities to continue during program delivery

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