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Klai8 t1_iueitkp wrote

I used to build airports, there are two main reasons—humans generate 500 BTU each of heat. There are smaller airports with plenums and oversized HVAC systems but you’d have to localize the HVAC systems for each gate instead of just using chilled water systems before flights.

Taller ceilings help dissipate the heat around the entire building. Also, like someone else mentioned, airports are basically symbolic welcome mats to tourists & businesspeople alike so a great deal of expensive architecture goes into them. Some of the most expensive firms serve as the architects of record on them.


Hex_Frost t1_iufnlc6 wrote

I love reddit so much because you have people casually saying shit like "yeah, i used to build Airports" like that isn't one of the coolest things you can do like ???


OneAndOnlyJackSchitt t1_iug9mag wrote

"I used to build airports and transit hubs. Lots of subways and train stations. Actually, you name it and I've probably built it. Even skyscrapers, storefronts, houses, apartments, condos. Cities: Skylines is pretty awesome. Logged over 10,000 hours."


Talik1978 t1_iugwh3y wrote

Ted Moseby? I think I saw a couple movies with you in them!


Indybin t1_iuhysjh wrote

This is the guy who built Ted moseby??!


[deleted] t1_iuggvyx wrote



OneAndOnlyJackSchitt t1_iughvge wrote

It's a joking video game reference to a game called Cities: Skylines which is basically like a next-gen SimCity.

Totally worth the $30


Lab_Member_004 t1_iugmrsm wrote

30 ir so DLCs does put a damper on things...


OneAndOnlyJackSchitt t1_iugnbni wrote

I've never used any of the paid DLC stuff. I might at some point, but it's certainly not required by any means.

Lots of totally free mods, though.

Edit to add: The paid DLCs add new mechanics to the base game and are basically the same as old school expansion packs were for offline games. It's not like that lootbox bullshit or anything scammy. Also, these DLCs are ongoing development. Game's been out since like 2015 and they just release a new DLC last month.

Also, I'll add that I am not affiliated with Colossal Order (developer) or Paradox Interactive (publisher) and this is not a paid advertisement. I just really like the game, just not enough to pay for DLC.


cantonic t1_iugnprn wrote

A bunch of the DLC are just radio and custom building little DLC. I think there are a total of 12 legitimate expansions, but none of them are necessary to enjoy the game and it has thousands of quality mods available for free.


ttocskcaj t1_iujf3u5 wrote

They go on sale all the time. I got the base game plus all expansions at the time for like $50


skaarlaw t1_iuhdym4 wrote

Been eyeing this game up for a while, so tempted but don't want to timesink in to another game right now!


magdra t1_iuhhsf2 wrote

Same. This is a game that'd benefit from a pirated copy going around for free. If I got to try it, and knew I really liked it like I think I would, I'd probably buy it...but for now, I have other games I've bought and haven't really played so I'm going to stick to those


skaarlaw t1_iuhkpf8 wrote

Bring back the 90s where we had weekly magazines with game demos on discs for PlayStation!


malachi347 t1_iuiifpq wrote

Game demos were the shit. Getting a new system with just a game demo disc was def not tho. At least once I got a system with a demo disc and then a gift card to buy my first game... But everything is closed on Christmas (!!!) so I'd just play the hell out of the demos all day lol. I think it was my first playstation.


skaarlaw t1_iuiio6t wrote

The resident evil demo put enough fear in to me for me to never play the entire series... I was a kid though!


TucsonTacos t1_iug5wud wrote

I mean he's not going to bring up his weekend hobby every conversation...

So true though


Internet-of-cruft t1_iug8slw wrote

I mean I built the network (and most of the app / server infrastructure) for one of the local international air terminals...

It's not that uncommon to find someone who worked on them. There's a lot of stuff to do.


Beneficial-Car-3959 t1_iufatry wrote

I read that one giant supermarket in China has bigger electricity bill for cooling the building during winter than during summer because more people go to supermarket in winter. Humans are walking ovens.


TucsonTacos t1_iug631g wrote

The Mall of America in Burnsville, Minnesota (MSP basically) has no heating. Even during the height (low) of winter it is heated by the people inside.


SafetyMan35 t1_iuhevl9 wrote

From the MOA website:

MOA does not use a central heating system; instead, 70 degrees is maintained year-round with passive solar energy from 1.2 miles of skylights and heat generated from lighting, store fixtures + body heat


FriendoftheDork t1_iugou7g wrote

Must suck for the employees opening up though.


TucsonTacos t1_iugqfue wrote

I'm pretty sure most places turn off (down) the heat when they're closed so its probably about the same effect.


FriendoftheDork t1_iugsu91 wrote

I'm used to the heat being increased an hour or two before opening, and lowered significantly during the empty hours. But if there is no heating at all then they can't even get a little warm until you have a lot of human traffic.


TucsonTacos t1_iuioxp9 wrote

I mean that’s how the mall works. I’m not an engineer nor did I build it.

You’re just speculating that it ‘probably’ sucks because you ‘feel’ it must work like you think it does. I can’t explain why it does or doesn’t, but there’s no possible way when the mall opens it is -20 inside and they just pray enough people stay and shop in full winter gear until it warms up and they can take their coats off.

They’d never get enough people. Nobody would stay.


Curious_Opossum t1_iujfpdn wrote

I worked in MOA for almost a decade. It's very rarely cold in the morning. The place is massive and it doesn't have enough down time to get cold. The coolest it would get would be the morning after Christmas. Winter and empty for over 24 hours. Perfectly warm by noon. The amount of lights and electricity on top of body heat, ovens and grills from restaurants and the food courts, the heat from the rides, the sun coming through the skylights... It's more than enough to keep things warm for a long time.


[deleted] t1_iugjzc7 wrote



crossedstaves t1_iugunzx wrote

When you have a very large building you wind up having a reduced ratio of surface area to volume. The thermal energy inside the mall has a harder time finding a way out than it would in a smaller building because there's just less building surface in comparison. It takes time to get truly cold.


TucsonTacos t1_iugq882 wrote

I'm not an engineer nor had any part in designing the MoA. I have no idea how its heated or not heated at night.


ordinary_kittens t1_iugpnj5 wrote

It must be heated at night in the winter though, to keep pipes from freezing? Minnesota will routinely get to 10 degrees, even zero degrees, in the middle of January at night.


SafetyMan35 t1_iuheyvw wrote

From the mall website

MOA does not use a central heating system; instead, 70 degrees is maintained year-round with passive solar energy from 1.2 miles of skylights and heat generated from lighting, store fixtures + body heat


TucsonTacos t1_iugqdb4 wrote

I used to live there, and it gets even colder than that. If I had to guess I would say residual heat? Possibly something engineered with the hot water being next to the cold water pipes? I really have no idea but it was a comfortable temperature every time I went during winter.


The_Power_of_Ammonia t1_iuilb5i wrote

>Minnesota will routinely get to 10 degrees, even zero degrees, in the middle of January at night.

This made me laugh. As a lifelong Minnesotan, you're nearly 50 degrees too warm on that estimate!


ordinary_kittens t1_iuir330 wrote

I was trying to say the routine average cold temperature, not the coldest. I live in Canada, I assume during a cold snap you guys might get to -50F like we do, but surely it’s not routinely that cold every night?


CitizenSnipsJr t1_iuiube0 wrote

I've lived in MN my whole life and the coldest I remember was a few overnight lows of -30F during a polar vortex. I think some areas in greater MN might have hit -40F here and there but it's certainly not routine and doesn't stay that cold very long. Anything lower than say -10F is not common and usually only for a few days to a week or so.


ordinary_kittens t1_iuiuxlu wrote

Yeah, people in Canada tend to exaggerate by giving the windchill temperatures, but I think that’s cheating. Excluding windchill we don’t really get to -40F/-40C very often, maybe only once or twice every second winter, in the middle of the night during a cold snap, like you said.


The_Power_of_Ammonia t1_iuit1sp wrote

What part of Canada? I think we get and stay colder than most of the East and Great Lakes areas. We're further North than Toronto even.

Every year in Jan/Feb we'll get a week or two with nightly lows of -40 to -50 or so. Sometimes the daily high even stays below -30F for a week or two. Bright, sunny winter days are a special thing - too cold to snow!


ordinary_kittens t1_iuitwg2 wrote

I don’t like to give my location but I live near Edmonton, so very dry and cold.

I don’t know Fahrenheit very well but a cold night here will maybe be -30C, with maybe only a week where the temperatures dip below -40C. I mean without windchill (since we are talking about pipes freezing indoors).

I checked the average low temperature for January for Minnesota before posting, and it said the average low was around 4F, so I figured I was fairly close to around what the average low temperature was.

Yes, lots of bright sunny winter days here, too. But, I can tell you guys aren’t much warmer than us despite being so much further south…those midwestern winters are brutal!


The_Power_of_Ammonia t1_iuiv7mz wrote

I like those temps for a lot of reasons, one of them that the C/F distinction more or less goes away down there haha.

All good mate, talking about the winter's cold can quickly turn into a Salty Spitoon contest of who's toughest! I'm happy to give it to you up in Edmonton though - you know the senses involved with a clear January day for sure!

Right around the corner now, good sauna weather! I was just noting to a friend too how we're a third of the way down from summer: 50⁰ off from the top of July, 100⁰ still to go down to the bottom of January. . . Bring it on!


CitizenSnipsJr t1_iuiukwm wrote

Do you live in international falls or something? -30F is extremely rare for the metro area, and -40 to -50 is basically unheard of.


The_Power_of_Ammonia t1_iuiwdbq wrote

It hits those lows every single year. I'm in the west metro, lived here my whole life.

2014/15 (I think it was) we had highs of -55F, plus windchill. That was exceptional, but we get a week or two at least every year of lows around -40.


CitizenSnipsJr t1_iuiz1n1 wrote

WC temps are made up BS and don't really mean anything. It's only touched overnight lows of -30F a handful of times over many seasons in the metro and only for a couple days max. I only remember two days where the daytime temp was below -20F and that was during a polar vortex.


Enchelion t1_iuiq3le wrote

They might use heat tape on the pipes themselves (or at least any at risk) or heat the utility rooms but not centrally heat the rest of the building.


Bolson32 t1_iugearz wrote

I was coming to ask this exact question lol... What about in the winter? That's wild!


HarryHacker42 t1_iuiguuz wrote

And then the power went out, the people left, the building froze, the pipes burst and all hell broke loose :)


Murazama t1_iuhwlsk wrote

We have a Walmart I work at on occasion. High ceilings, only thing HVAC pushes around is the air for the coolers (I assume) because during Winter it's like a fucking icebox in there, during summer is great, but no heating what so ever, and no amount of bodies in there seems to warm it up. I was in there yesterday, 51°f outside with overcast skies/rain showers and it felt 40ish inside the building. Might be the huge coolers that are wide open and cranked just to above freezing for beer/produce they use but holy hell it's cold in there.


DTux5249 t1_iufp766 wrote

This is why cold blooded creatures are superior life forms; We waste so much energy mindlessly, while a reptile has an excuse to sit back and back bask for hours on end


rechlin t1_iufy7na wrote

So what you are saying is that we should welcome the lizard people as our new overlords?


urzu_seven t1_iugbcel wrote

Considering we have driven the lizard people underground I'd say us warm blooded mammals are doing pretty good!


mingus-dew t1_iuhy8s4 wrote

Conversely, an endothermic animal can remain active in a variety of temperatures and also use thermoregulation to fight infection.

But yeah we have very high energy demands and so can't chill as much as ectotherms.


Dirty_Hertz t1_iufz3fy wrote

I believe I read once that the Mall of America in Minneapolis where it gets to -40 degrees sometimes doesn't have a heating source, and as an HVAC designer I believe it.


WayneConrad t1_iug83ok wrote

If I recall, an average adult at rest gives off something like 100 W of heat. So around 15 humans is a space heater on full blast. 150 people waiting to board a plane makes a lot of heat


KingZarkon t1_iugn6d8 wrote

That's at rest. If they are active, say walking around in an airport while carrying luggage, that goes way up.


thewaynegibbons t1_iufqznc wrote

Source? Genuine question, not doubting you.


bulksalty t1_iufzxoz wrote

Basically all the calories you take in are burned as heat (you get a small amount of work, but the vast majority are heat lost). If you're eating 2000 calories/day and not adding to your fat reserves, you're almost certainly releasing at least 1960 calories/day as heat.


[deleted] t1_iug7v7m wrote



skepdoc t1_iugkft4 wrote

I have it on good authority that the human body generates more bioelectricity than a 120-volt battery and over 25,000 BTUs of body heat.


Coompa t1_iuhb5zv wrote

Im dimmer than that I think.


urzu_seven t1_iugbghj wrote

Dang it, now I want to walk around with a lightbulb that is powered by me all day...


Celtictussle t1_iueru1p wrote

How do the chilled water systems work?


scaryjobob t1_iuf5jgz wrote

Like the water cooling in a PC, but instead of pumping water to your components to carry the heat away, it's pumping it to air handlers that cycle the air to cool it down.


Floodtoflood t1_iuhat86 wrote

Air handlers handle air like the name says (they cool or heat air and then blow it where you need it through duct work). The cooling of the water is done by a chiller and the resulting heat would be dissipated by a cooling tower or heat pump.


eerun165 t1_iuf6fho wrote

Water is cooled with a chiller, and pumped to FCU (fan coil units, basically a heat exchanger with a fan). The FCU blows air through its coil as the cooled liquid is pumped through the coil, the water absorbs heat, cooling the air. The heat then returns via the chilled water system to the chiller to be cooled again and go back out.

The chiller is a mechanical system using refrigerants to cool the liquid. The other output of the chiller is heated water, which then typically goes to a cooling tower (basically another heat exchanger) water flows through the tower as a fan pulls ambient outdoor air, which removes heat from that portion to go back and cool the chiller.


Shurgosa t1_iufg2yw wrote

How interesting that today is the day I finally revisit my FCU map update project at work and shit all the info into one document. We have like 20 of these goddamn things all scattered around the building in storage rooms, and areas that are surrounded by stairwells that seem to tie themselves into knots. The current maps being used are photocopied blueprints from the 1980s marked up with a highlighter.


Dirty_Hertz t1_iufyq6b wrote

Oh, I love those. I had some recent record drawing projects where I only had scanned ancient BS like you said and a set of survey markups from a guy who couldn't write to save his life. Couldn't tell the difference between 3, 5, or 8. They all looked the same!


cerberus_1 t1_iugd6n7 wrote

K, so its all about the second thing.

I build server rooms... they produce heat like 1000 people smashed into a black hole.. we push cooling through the floor.. high ceilings are telling everyone how happy they are about spending $500 on a 2 hour flight with no service.


danziman123 t1_iugrt6x wrote

High ceilings also help with noise control. And airport areas area usually fine with a 5 story high building and they don’t get much more expensive


ThePrem t1_iuigzyk wrote

Thank you...this sounds like a construction manager that has a vague understanding of HVAC

To one point though servers are more consistent with their heat output and cooling is sized appropriately and generally runs consistently. An airport has more diversity and can rapidly swing from a large load to almost none. A larger volume of air can manage that more consistently.

But yes, mostly the other things


Elfich47 t1_iug9drk wrote

I hate doing HVAC design in airports. The local (international) always runs significantly negative because the food stalls never make up their exhaust.


deusrex_ t1_iuf35ni wrote

Found Agent Smith


RicrosPegason t1_iug5iwo wrote

🧍‍♂️ 👉 🔋


urzu_seven t1_iugblcv wrote

The funny thing is humans are actually terrible batteries. They should have come up with a better excuse for us in The Matrix (like parallel processing or something).


KingZarkon t1_iugnayj wrote

It was originally supposed to be for processing but someone decided the viewers were too stupid and changed it to batteries. Something like that anyways.


0nline_persona t1_iufi5cn wrote

>I used to build airports

In my world of me you were literally born for this post


ThePrem t1_iugg04t wrote

You can have a localized HVAC system that uses chilled water…?

You are correct with your idea of more air = more consistent air temperature / smaller temperature swings….but your explanation is a little off

There are other reasons beyond HVAC such as sound, lighting, room for large signage, and just overall aesthetics.


Rampage_Rick t1_iugrs7i wrote

Pretty sure that many hotel rooms work this way. If there isn't an A/C unit shoved through the wall then there's probably a chilled-water AHU in the ceiling above the door or bathroom.


ThePrem t1_iuhdx5m wrote

Yes that was my point. The original comment I replied to stated that you couldn’t use chilled water to locally control a gate’s temperature. But you can


twoinvenice t1_iui19lv wrote

I think there point there was that approach would be more expensive over the lifetime of the airport than building higher ceilings on the first place


Ray_Bandz_18 t1_iug5f5h wrote

Related question: why do the bathrooms always have shit ventilation?


dzunravel t1_iuggsvy wrote

Because they need shit ventilation for the shit.


tatakatakashi t1_iugb2vp wrote

The part about humans making heat I already knew from the Matrix thanks


koalaposse t1_iufs3xd wrote

This is interesting. Do similar mass of people go through other places and systems that are more enclosed in other areas of life, or does all architecture design for this in the same way? Thinking sports, trains and concerts.


onajurni t1_iuj5436 wrote

The gyms and sports facilities I'm familiar with have very high ceilings in the workout areas. The offices in those buildings tend to be more normal ceiling height for offices.

Another set of high-ceiling buildings are large grocery stores. There is one locally that actually has a second floor office area with a balcony that looks down on the shopping area.

And Walmart. :) And most large retail stores.

Locally a large grocery chain pulled out of one of it's main stores. Everyone was wondering what would become of the space, which stayed vacant for months. Then a large gym facility moved in. Makes sense, the space already had the high ceilings the gym wanted.


oskitheleopard t1_iug59la wrote

I was halfway expecting the undertaker to come into the story. Really interesting and makes complete sense. I had always kind of figured people just liked big buildings and building a airport is so expensive anyway you might as well make it fancy.


atfyfe t1_iug888a wrote

Do you have any favoriate airports? The Istanbul airport is amazing.

Also, any thoughts on this YouTube video about airport design? -


Carfr33k t1_iuga0aa wrote

McNamara terminal at Detroit.


rksd t1_iugjii6 wrote

I love DTW for some reason. I will take a layover there versus just about anywhere else.


shana104 t1_iugtwiv wrote

Any reason why? I'm taking a trip to DFW soon.


Crescendo_BLYAT t1_iugpnhv wrote

symbolic welcome mats to tourists & there's TSA agents ruining for everyone else 😑


Combinatronics t1_iuguwbs wrote

What do you mean humans generate 500 BTU each? Is that per second or per hour?


Klai8 t1_iugwd0g wrote

I know it’s a unit of energy but in engineering, we colloquially just use it as BTU/hr which is something like .3 kW


StevenS76 t1_iugwlec wrote

Could it also reduce noise? Having higher ceilings makes sounds travel further before bouncing back down, for better chance of dissipating.


__s10e t1_iuhdx79 wrote

Is ventilation another reason? The huge volume provides sufficient oxygen for anyone inside for quite some time even if ventilation breaks down.


samfringo t1_iuhhgs6 wrote

I also imagine people feel less claustrophobic with high ceilings. Airports can sometimes be packed


Immediate-Lychee-612 t1_iuhhomc wrote

My brother and I were walking down the Salt Lake City airport last week, and we commented that even though there’s a ton of people and the walkway is forever, it didn’t feel so bad because the ceilings were pretty high.


nas_deferens t1_iuhnnie wrote

Why do apparently only airport architects and Morpheus use British thermal units?


Philo_T_Farnsworth t1_iuhvu1f wrote

> Taller ceilings help dissipate the heat around the entire building.

Okay, weird question here but does it ever rain indoors due to this? I'm just wondering how you deal with moisture.


dz1n3 t1_iuicu2v wrote

In the same essence, the Mall of America in Minneapolis doesn't have a central heating system. It uses the heat generated by the persons inside to heat it. Not only is it huge, but it gets mighty chilly in Minnesota in the winter. Mighty cold!


TricksterWolf t1_iuiqf52 wrote

They also look way cooler that way in movies where a plane drives into them.


onajurni t1_iuj4neq wrote

This makes sense to me, because having a lot of humans in a room can heat it up so quickly!

Do they have an air circulation system near the ceiling to keep it moving? I always wondered if it vented to the outside.

I would also think that ventilation has to be key. Being able to circulate all the air people are breathing out up into a very high ceiling is probably what keeps the air breathable at floor level.


Dangerous-Ring-9705 t1_iuhpmzi wrote

I can't be the only one who mentally narrated "BTU" as "butt tonnes".

"How much heat did you say a human produces?"

"Oh, am absolute butt tonne. 500 butt tonnes to be precise"


IMovedYourCheese t1_iuekqc3 wrote

It isn't just airports. Any place that is designed for crowds and gets lots of foot traffic has such architecture. Think hotel lobbies, atriums, office building lobbies, big box retail stores, convention centers. It helps with air flow and makes the space feel more roomy.


JeffSergeant t1_iuf9w1m wrote

Definitely helps feeling roomier, imagine being in a zig-zag queue for checkin in standard room ceilings, just thinking of it makes me claustrophobic.

I guess it also helps with navigation; you can put signs up higher for greater visibility


CavemanRobot t1_iufrytr wrote

Just go to O'hare if you want to try that.


tsunami141 t1_iufsfky wrote

All customs areas at smaller international airports lol.


zz_z t1_iugsz7q wrote

I've been in some small countries customs where it's just a standard 8' drop ceiling with like 3,000 people queued up, definitely feels super claustrophobic.


upcyclingtrash t1_iuia1g2 wrote

Seattle-Tacoma airport has that when you arrive and you're standing in line to go through passport control


kenwongart t1_iugxbj9 wrote

The London Underground would like a word


simanthropy t1_iuhqgh8 wrote

The same London Underground that draws complaints for being too hot and claustophobic?


WritingTheRongs t1_iuipria wrote

plus they have these giant pistons that keep ramming air in and out...aka the trains themselves.


jeeptravel t1_iui09kg wrote

Helsinki airport has been making lots of renovations, and some of the new sections of the airport are just horrible. Tiny little hallways with short ceilings. It feels like an old middle school instead of a new airport. If there’s more than 3 people in line at any of the shops, then they’re blocking the walking paths for people trying to get to their gates.

For a city that’s planned pretty well, the designers really dropped the ball on the airport


TehWildMan_ t1_iueg543 wrote

Lower ceilings tend to create the feeling of being in a cramped space, which is something many modern renovation/construction projects try to avoid


zoinkability t1_iufs589 wrote

The exhibit A for this is the 60s Penn Station in Manhattan. They kept the basic functionality of the station but by putting it in a bunch of tunnels they turned it into a claustrophobic, unpleasant place.


_Haverford_ t1_iugbdt0 wrote

As someone who uses contemporary Penn weekly, thinking about the old structure makes me so sad. Penn Station is a dismal, depressing place. Even the improvements over by the LIRR suck. They set up a whole room of diffuse lights to simulate daylight, which sounds great... Walking through at 10:00pm at night and suddenly being in "daylight" is nauseating.


Far_Bit3621 t1_iuf2m92 wrote

Concurse F at MSP has low ceilings and it feels super dingy to me as a result. The rest of the airport is great but that one concourse seems so cramped and old fashioned.


Sparklesperson t1_iug7sx5 wrote

Main terminal? (T1)? I'm in and out of MSP a lot, but usually T2.


Far_Bit3621 t1_iui30ei wrote

Great question! I forgot to mention this is T1. They’ve been doing some nice upgrades/remodels there over the years, especially the bathrooms! They have some gorgeous mosaic tile work at some of the bathroom entrances now.


TrShry OP t1_iuegmsj wrote

Yeah true, but seems so unnecessary being this tall


RTXEnabledViera t1_iuejfv8 wrote

But since we can make them tall, we do. This isn't just airports. Look at Union station. Built in the 20s yet feels like a giant hall with a very tall roof. This isn't some new age architecture fad. Many will argue it's twice as important in airports to make passengers feel at ease since they're about to be crammed in a narrow metal tube for hours. Better to get a look at the blue sky and planes landing/taking off.


dmazzoni t1_iueom40 wrote

> Look at Union station.

Which one?

Not sure if you were aware, but there are ~144 train stations called "Union Station" in the U.S. alone, and many more around the world:


evanthebouncy t1_iuez2go wrote

One in NYC. I'll bet on that one.


shotsallover t1_iuf6yfw wrote

The one in Washington, DC also fits that description.


gwaydms t1_iuffcze wrote

DC Union Station is a grand old building.


RTXEnabledViera t1_iufxsbz wrote

Meant Union Station in DC, should have probably just mentioned Grand Central since it's the train station everyone knows.


BassoonHero t1_iufivy7 wrote

There's a lot of psychology that goes into architecture. A lot of things are the way they are because they make people comfortable.

Airports have to have large spaces — at least in two dimensions. The third dimension could be short without sacrificing function (other than perhaps ventilation), but it would feel cramped and oppressive. It's no different from a big-box store — a lot of them have higher ceilings than they'd otherwise need, simply to make it feel comfortably spacious.


GravitationalEddie t1_iugkr40 wrote

I have a feeling the fact that many people in the airport are about to spend, or just spent who knows how long in a cramped space, has something to do with the psychology of airport architecture.


BassoonHero t1_iuglqb1 wrote

That could well be; I don't know. But you see the same kinds of design in any large indoor space designed for a lot of people, not just in transportation terminals: shopping malls, ballrooms, big box stores, and so on.


nim_opet t1_iueogfp wrote

You clearly have not been to LGA before it was deconstructed. It felt like a 3rd world bus terminal; dark and oppressive. Thousands of people queuing up even in 12’ ceilings very quickly turns unbearable


deadplant_ca t1_iuetmyo wrote

Omg ya, it was so bad! Like, missing ceiling tiles with electrical wires hanging down. Lol

I've been through several times this year and it's very nice now!


chevymonza t1_iufiwjp wrote

It really is an incredible transformation. Did see a homeless person asleep in one of the long hallways (don't blame them really) and some dog poop, but those could also be props to get people acclimated to the NYC experience.


strangemedia6 t1_iuhrhnt wrote

On a smaller scale, but Indianapolis’ airport went through a similar transformation with their new terminal. It’s a medium sized airport with just one terminal but they built a new one in 2008 and tore down the old. I was on one of the first flights to come in to the new terminal, can’t remember if it was on the actual first day of operation or not. The old terminal felt like you were walking through an average high school building, nothing pleasant at all about being there. The new one is all about windows and open space and was also the first terminal fully designed and built after 9/11. It only has ~40 gates so it doesn’t have to deal with the massive operations or hub functions of other airports, but it still at the top of rankings for medium sized airports even 14 years later is by far my favorite airport to fly through.

Only bad experience I have ever had there was when I made the mistake of flying Allegiant. We got in and got off the plane, waited for luggage and it never came. Some people went to the Allegiant desk to ask what was going on eventually and found no one there. Turns out all of Allegiant’s staff left for the day and no one ever got the luggage off the plane. 🤣 Much funnier looking back.


Wasted_Weasel t1_iuf54op wrote

Just to add to this already great answers, there's also engineering reasons.
Think about the massive space luggage sorting machines occupy. You just see a belt with your luggage, but in rality this could get to multi-story level, not to say that in some airports luggage travles from one ent of the airport to another. HVAC, plumbing, cabling runs, all need to be easily accesible by maintenence workers, so just for that it easily adds a conventional story just for that reason. Think all the behind-the courtain stuff... Loads of administrative areas that you do not see are stacked on top pf another in semi conventional ceiling height.


[deleted] t1_iueg1dx wrote



TrShry OP t1_iuegb6w wrote

Ohhh interesting


kalechipsaregood t1_iuegtpa wrote

International airports are also a status symbol welcoming people from all over into a country or major city. So they make them airy and light and impressive. Eg. The waterfall in the Singapore Airport is just a giant "look how rich we are" sign.


r2k-in-the-vortex t1_iuen0i0 wrote

Because in such hall constructions extra height is relatively cheap, lifting the roof higher doesn't add much cost, but it certainly makes the place feel roomier and with a bit of effort much more impressive. It's an ancient engineering trick, temples, churches etc do the same thing, it greatly eases sales no matter if you are peddling last minute tourist nick-nacks or a cult.


justmyfakename t1_iufs7u9 wrote

In the airport where I work, the public areas are all tall ceilings 40 to 60 foot. I see lots of posts talking about baggage, etc. At my airport at least, that's all underground... As far down as the ceilings are high. We have several sublevels, including a dedicated level just for baggage handling, and another just for utilities, etc.


samyouall t1_iugemvr wrote

I would think it has to do with keeping a stable climate during surges and lulls of people. Similar to how it’s easier to maintain water quality in a large aquarium s a smaller tank, more air volume will remain a steady temperature/quality.

I have nothing to back this up. Just a hunch.


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robbz23 t1_iuhcsku wrote

Clearly you haven't been to Washington Dulles C terminal.

Granted the main terminal has a huge soaring roofline, but the C building is the opposite with lower normal height ceilings.


WritingTheRongs t1_iuiqajs wrote

concourses are typically lower ceilinged especially right at the gates, the discussion was about the terminals. that photo of concourse C looks totally normal to me. And of course is nowhere near as claustrophobic as the actual aircraft.


real_lev_tolstoy t1_iuie6ol wrote

Some have low ceilings in areas, especially if I remember DFW correctly from a few years back. It is claustrophobic and super loud/hot. High ceilings are good for sound, temperature, and general feel.


tobi437u t1_iuemaq1 wrote

There are a few reasons for this. First, high ceilings allow for better ventilation, which is important in preventing the spread of airborne diseases. Second, high ceilings make it easier to store luggage and other items out of the way, and to move around the airport more easily. Finally, high ceilings help to reduce noise levels, which can be important for both passengers and airport staff.


CCNeverender t1_iueq3ek wrote

Can you elaborate on the second point about luggage? I'm not sure I understand how tall ceiling space gives more room for 3 foot tall suitcases wheeled around on the floor.


koalaposse t1_iufswi8 wrote

Wow! That is so great to learn that height reduces noise? Must be one of the reasons it is so appealing in a sensory way, had not realised this! Makes so much sense.

Usually you hear - repeatedly, domestically that height is very expensive due to material costs, where it seems everything is almost only just above door height in many developer builds.


CFDietCoke t1_iuegiho wrote

I don't think there is any actual architectural reason, just aesthetics and design

Places with very high ceilings feel more roomy than ones with small ceilings, and airports get very crowded, so a more roomy feeling will make passengers feel better about the space.

Also you, as a passenger, only see a small part of the airport. There is a whole other ecosystem of people working and running the place, usually on floors above the bottom floor, which means the cieling is higher to allow extra floors


MidnightAdventurer t1_iuf5job wrote

>I don't think there is any actual architectural reason, just aesthetics and design

I think you mean functional reason - aesthetics and design is what architecture is all about.