Bob Berkebile, who as a young architect working for Kivett & Myers was a lead designer for the terminals at Kansas City International Airport when it opened in 1972, will help guide a team led by Burns & McDonnell on its pitch for a $1 billion terminal project at the airport.
Berkebile, the B in the local architecture firm he co-founded in BNIM, will be principal emeritus of a growing team of partners with Burns & McDonnell on the KCI project. Berkebile was co-chair of a mayoral-appointed task force that studied the KCI issue in 2014 before recommending a single-terminal approach.
Berkebile in an interview said working on a possible single terminal at KCI would add to the city’s array of public facilities.
“I think we’ve created quite a legacy in this community of extraordinary public facilities,” Berkebile said. “The airport, being the first impression and last impression of our city for our visitors, it’s an incredible opportunity to convey the statement that we make and the service we provide for this experience.”
Also joining the Burns & McDonnell team are local architecture and design firms Populous, HOK, BNIM, Wellner Architects and Garcia Architecture. Those firms join Dallas-based Corgan, which Burns & McDonnell had already selected as an architect partner. Burns & McDonnell had previously announced that contractors JE Dunn and McCownGordon were partnering on the proposal.
“These firms represent the best of the best of the industry,” said Bret Pilney, a Burns & McDonnell vice president.
Burns & McDonnell will remain the lead architect of record on a proposed design, build and private financing project for consolidating KCI’s three-terminal layout into a single building.
Steve McDowell, a BNIM principal, said the combination of local firms involved in the Burns & McDonnell team would take into account the community’s needs for a potentially redesigned KCI.
“We understand what a good experience is and what a not good experience is,” McDowell said.
Burns & McDonnell in May was the first private firm to publicly announce a proposal for privately financing and designing the KCI single terminal. Americo Life Inc., a local life insurance company, is helping line up equity and other outside private financing for the proposal.
Kansas City leaders initially presented Burns & McDonnell as the team that would take on the $1 billion project, but have since decided to offer other companies an opportunity to enter their proposals. The deadline for final proposals in Aug. 10, two weeks before the Kansas City Council would have to select a winner and approve ballot language for a November ballot. AECOM, a leading aviation design firm, has also announced its interest in the project.
The fast-approaching deadline represents another chapter in the long-running saga of KCI, where city and business leaders who say KCI is obsolete and in need of a new terminal are met by those in the public who like the airport the way it is.
The Kansas City Council is also evaluating a public financing proposal for KCI, which is how airport projects are commonly funded. Proponents of the public financing approach, which include Kansas City Councilwoman Katheryn Shields, argue that publicly financing the project would result in $400 million in savings. Others say private financing could save the city money by completing construction of the project faster.
The merits of both proposals have been debated at City Hall, and the matter is far from settled.