Panama’s International Airport Playing Big League

I found myself staring at the image of what appeared to be a very large airport.

I didn’t know it was Beijing’s international terminal, the world’s largest and most technologically advanced airport in the world. I didn’t know that it was just one of many stunning structures currently under construction world-wide by the design firm Foster + Partners. As I started to read about the projects, I was taken from Beirut to London, Chicago and Dubai, Singapore, Venice and Panama City. Yes. Panama City.

Among The Most Elite

I smiled when I saw Panama among the most elite and I realized I had been drawn to the image of the airport because the same group of architects who designed the Beijing structure, also designed the new South Terminal at Tocumen International Airport. Our airport, scheduled to be completed by the end of this year was just as stunning as anything else on the page.

Panama Airport
The new South Terminal is designed to reflect the Panamanian landscape, evoking a unique sense of place to welcome visitors to the country. At the heart of the new airport is a lush open garden, planted with the trees and flora of Panama’s tropical forests, visible within a curved glass enclosure.

We were playing in the big leagues!

Because I know and love Panama, when I read about a competition date, I always mentally question the reality of something actually being finished on time. On projects this large, delays are often the norm and not just in Panama. However, when I read the new South Terminal would be needed to welcome the million plus visitors to Panama City expected for World Youth Day January 22-29, 2019, I felt comfortable we would see the ribbon cut by the end of 2018.

Pope Francis Is Coming

The Pope
Don’t underestimate the power of the Pope! His scheduled visit for World Youth Day in January 2019 should ensure various construction projects will be completed on time including the airport expqnsion.

Everyone is very excited about Pope Francis coming to Panama as part of World Youth Day and since the visitors will mainly be coming by airplane, Tocumen, and its beautiful new terminal should be ready and welcoming.

The total cost of the airport expansion is estimated at 800 million USD and it will add almost a million square feet to the existing floor space, increasing passenger capacity to 25 million by 2025. Today Tocumen handles 16 million travelers annually. Currently bids are being taken for the custom furniture needed in the passenger areas.

Direct Flights Everywhere

Panama City has always been known as the “hub of the Americas”, but this new terminal will solidify Panama’s position as the de facto business capital of Central America. Copa Airlines has its main hub at Tocumen and has direct flights to Miami, Toronto, Mexico City, Washington, Buenos-Aires, Boston, Denver and Havana, just to mention a few. Other airlines with operations out of Tocumen International Airport, include Lufthansa, Air France, Avianca, Air China, LOT Polish Airlines, Turkish Airlines, American, Delta, United, KLM, Iberia and Air Canada.

Construction of the project has been pretty dramatic because of the design which embraces a comprehensive environmental strategy. Openings in the roof will allow sunlight to penetrate every corner of the terminal and measures have been employed to reduce the need for cooling.

Even after marveling at the Panama City project, I continued to study all the famous designs of Foster + Partners. With 48 active construction sites they are constantly brining to life new buildings, hospitals, office complexes, museums, bridges and even boats and furniture. They are changing the face of our planet for the better and I’m just thrilled Panama City is among the very best.

No one was more of a design perfectionist than Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, so when I saw Foster + Partners had recently completed the design of the new Steve Jobs Theatre in Cupertino, California I knew Panama’s airport would be as perfect and striking as the renderings.
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