Las Vegas Sun

November 12, 2018

Currently: 53° — Complete forecast

New terminal reminder of earlier times, family city

If McCarran International Airport ever needs help to taxi an aircraft at the new D gates terminal, the "Trojan Army" will be happy to help out.

The Trojans, a 20-man team of Las Vegans, did not have much trouble pulling a 155,000-pound Boeing 727 to win the plane-pull event at the D gate opening celebration Saturday. The 12-foot pull took the team all of 6.74 seconds.

The new $200 million, 26-gate terminal took considerably longer to complete, but Las Vegans who turned out for this weekend's preview seemed pleased with the results.

"It reminds me a lot of the old airport in a lot of ways," said Brian Adams, a 38-year Las Vegas resident. "With the older style lettering on the screens and the fact that it kind of stands alone out here away from the other terminals is a lot like it was 25 years ago."

Adams said that he remembers when a person could drive right up to the front of McCarran International Airport before all the expansion.

"For me this is very reminiscent of those times," Adams said. "There is not a lot of flashy paint but it still conveys Las Vegas."

The new terminal makes use of 1,500 tons of steel, 40,000 cubic yards of concrete and 130,000 square feet of marble. These elements combine to give the 684,000-square-foot facility a metallic look, while sweeping curves in the architecture allow for an aviation theme to pervade the building.

"It is an impressive structure that came out better than I thought it would," said Chris Andre, a worker for Perini, the contractor on the project. "The rotunda is amazing. With the huge windows and the lighting that comes through the architects did a real nice job."

Tate & Snyder Architects were responsible for the design of the terminal including the rotunda which is 95 feet high. Four escalators rise from the floor of the rotunda to level two and allow for a view out of the 45-foot-tall window of the Great Hall.

The window looks out on the runways where aircraft would normally be running, but vendors were set up and people browsed during Saturday's debut for local residents. The first flights are expected to arrive at the new gates June 23.

"It's kind of interesting to be able to walk out on the tarmac because it's something that you'll never be able to do again," Adams said.

Jutting off the Great Hall are the two concourses of the D gates. Each offers a variety of shops and eateries for travellers.

"With just the two hallways the building becomes very defined," said Candy Schneider of the School and Community Partnership. "Not only is it functional but it's aesthetically pleasing as well. It is a very relaxing and comfortable atmosphere."

Of course that atmosphere may become a little more tense when passengers start to fill the new terminal that gives the airport a capacity to accommodate 45 million passengers a year.

There are the requisite slot machines and stores that are a part of the other McCarran terminals, but the D gates have also blended in other sides of Las Vegas according to Joyce Woodhouse, director of the School and Community Partnership.

The partnership in cooperation with Tate & Snyder held an art contest for Clark County Schools children, with the winners receiving the honor of having their work displayed permanently in the form of murals in the terminal.

"This building really is a wonderful change from the Las Vegas look that everyone has in their minds," Woodhouse, a 30-year resident said. "The art shows that this is not only a tourist mecca but also a family town. It is a good mix of what one would expect Las Vegas to look like and the hominess of a community."

The murals are located on the first level just west of the rotunda where the automated transit system arrives at the D gates.

According to Schneider, fourth graders who have since moved on to fifth grade began working on the murals last year. Students duplicated the landscapes of the world's cities and 16 were chosen.

"They started out on 12x18 inch sheets of paper and then they were transferred to mural paper and sent to Mexico where the art was turned into tile," Scheider said. "They turned out absolutely beautiful and they add a lot to the building."

Some of the cities represented in the murals include London, Berlin and Paris.

"It will be wonderful for these children growing up in Las Vegas and recognizing that their work is a part of something," Woodhouse said. "They will be able to visit for years to come and remember what they did."

Students from Chester T. Sewell Elementary School in Henderson were proud of the work they put in on the London and Berlin murals.

"I guess we'll go down in history now," fifth-grader Jeri Hendricks said.

Fifth-grader Spencer Hutching was already looking forward to showing off his accomplishment.

"It will be cool to bring my kids here and say, 'This is what I did back in the day,'" Hutching said.