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New airport canopies welcome travelers

Features | June 1, 2020 | By:

Rising 72 feet over passengers and traffic, newly constructed canopies provide protection from the elements for visitors to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Photo: FabriTec Structures.

More than 107 million travelers pass through the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, making it the busiest airport in the world. With all of the traffic, airport management developed a plan to renew existing facilities, enhancing the airport’s aesthetic appeal and ensuring the best possible customer service. 

Called ATLNext, the plan calls for a series of projects that will be implemented over the next two decades. One of the first projects was revamping the Central Passenger Terminal Complex facility for domestic passengers. This included building canopies over both the north and south sides of the domestic terminal that would cover eight lanes of traffic as well as pedestrian walkways going to and from the parking ramps and the terminal. 

The airport worked with design-build contractor FabriTec Structures to create and construct the enormous tensile canopies, each measuring 194 feet wide by 874 feet long. Consisting of pressurized double-layered ETFE cushions, the membranes were mounted on frameworks made of a total of 3,500 tons of steel and aluminum. 

FabriTec began construction on the north structure in October 2017 and followed with the south edifice in October 2018. Because the airport is so busy, special care was taken to keep inconvenience at a minimum. The construction crew worked nonpeak hours and nighttime shifts whenever possible.

The massive canopies are a beacon to visitors arriving by car or plane both day or night. Each membrane is embedded with 1,938 LED lights that can be programmed with a variety of colors. The canopies can also display special patterns for holidays and events. For more information, visit

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