With Middle Eastern airlines taking on a growing volume of global traffic, the region’s airports are quickly expanding to become major hubs for international travelers. Case in point: Amman, Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport played host to a scant two-and-a-quarter million passengers per annum a decade ago; today it takes on nearly three times that number, and with a new terminal just completed by London-based architects Foster + Partners, its capacity has swollen to a full 9 million.

The 100,000-square-meter (1.08 million-square-foot) facility makes room for as many as 15 additional at new departure gates and remote stands, meaning weary flyers now spend less time taxiing to the gate. Once inside, passengers find themselves in an airy, light-filled environment, sheltered beneath a roof system of precast and poured concrete, shaped into a sequence of billowing baldachins. The effect of the more than 80 conjoined domes seems a gesture to the desert tents of the region’s past, and a light, decorative pattern traced on portions of the ceiling surface evokes the complex geo­metries of historical Islamic art. Yet the Foster team designed the roof with the future in mind—the insulating quality of the concrete helps to keep the building cool in the day and warm in the evening, reducing energy consumption while keeping Amman’s extreme climate in check.

Also indicative of Jordan’s future: the price tag. The current phase of terminal construction rings in at $850 million—including $110 million for rehabbing existing facilities—and there’s more to come, with another stage of the expansion slated for completion by 2020. That phase will add another 16,000 square meters (172,223 square feet) and another 15 aircraft berths to the airport. It will allow for passenger capacity to rise from 9 million per year in the current facility to 12.8 million per year, making Amman a major commercial entrepôt to the region. Even with the additional facilities, it will still face stiff competition: Dubai International Airport is already home to the world’s largest terminal, and the city-state in the United Arab Emirates recently unveiled plans to increase capacity to a stunning 90 million passengers by 2018.

For more details and images of Queen Alia International Airport, visit ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.

Project Credits
Project  Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan
Client  Mawared (National Resources Investment and Development Corp.) (concept design); The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Ministry of Transport (scheme design); Airport International Group P.S.C., Joannou & Paraskevaides (overseas), J&P-AVAX (detail design)
Architect  Foster + Partners, London—Norman Foster, Hon. FAIA, Mouzhan Majidi, AIA, Darryn Holder (all phases); Huw Thomas, Richard Hawkins, Michael Gentz, John Ball, Riko Sibbe, Tie Fan, Gunnar Dittrich, Young Wei-Yang Chiu, Zheng Yu, William Walshe, Joyce Wang (concept design); Huw Thomas, Jonathan Parr, Riko Sibbe, Gunnar Dittrich, Irene Wong, Sang-kil Park, Alicja Kiszczuk, Maria de la Guardia, Coco Cugat, Andres Flores, Carol Aoun, Asa Nilsson, Christoph Vogl, Sebastian Gmelin, Petr Stefek, Christopher Gresham, Wiena Wang, Tessa Derry, Martin Lorger, Takehiko Iseki, Henry Suryo, Juan Frigerio, David Yang, Ellen Haukas, Heather Moore, Jay Shah, Katie Wu, Maria Szelmeczka, Sabah Ashiq, Siri Stromme Johansen, Sophie Deheegher, Laura Silva Dona (scheme design); Huw Thomas, Jonathan Parr, Tie Fan, Omar Al Omari, Maher Matar, Niall Starling, Katja Martini, Irene Wong, Anna Kowal, Alicja Kiszczuk, Christoph Vogl, Christopher Gresham, Birgit Schoenbrodt, Piotr Ehrenhalt, Sandra Debbas, Katrin Hass, Bettina Richter, Tobias Schnur, Eduard Petriu, Oxana Krause, Susanne Bellinghausen, Marta Gonzalez, Stefanie Arnold, Yazan Bilbeisi (detail design); Jonathan Parr, Tie Fan, Omar Al Omari, Maher Matar, Michele Pecoraro, Seif El Din, Katja Martini, Irene Wong, Anna Kowal, Alicja Kiszczuk, Christoph Vogl, Piotr Ehrenhalt, Sandra Debbas, Marina Cisneros, Anna Perity (aesthetic supervision of production information & construction)
Airport Consultant  NACO
Structural and Climate Engineer  Buro Happold
Quantity Surveyor  Davis Langdon
Local Architects  Maisam Dar Al-Omran JV
Airport Systems & BHS  ADPi
Structure and MEP  Zuhair Fayez Partnership
Civil and Landscape Consultant  Dar Al-Handasah
Acoustics  Rahe Kraft, Sandy Brown
Lighting  World of Lights, iGuzzini
Fire  Exova Warrington
Carpet Design  Hana Rihani Huber
Size  116,000 square meters (1,248,613 square feet)
Cost  $850 million