by By Hunter R. Slaton | November 01, 2008

Taking off: Indianapolis' airport
opens Nov. 11.
It's become commonplace to say the world changed on 9/11. And although the way travelers fly altered considerably after that date, the physical airports changed little. Until now.

The first airport terminals designed after 9/11 are coming online in Detroit; Indianapolis; New York City; and Raleigh, N.C. JetBlue's $743 million terminal at JFK in New York, which opened Oct. 22, was designed by architecture firm Gensler with a 20-lane, 340-foot-wide security checkpoint -- America's largest. Though staffing levels are up to the Transportation Security Administration, project director Bill Hooper says the terminal "has capacity that older terminals can't squeeze in. Being able to do this makes it dramatically more efficient and streamlined."

Indianapolis' new arrival is the $1.1 billion Col. H. Weir Cook Ter­minal, opening this month. According to principal designer Ripley Rasmus, of architect Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum, the new building is all about openness -- which, happily, is a boon to passenger comfort and visibility for safety officials. This open layout is exemplified by the building's Civic Plaza area, after check-in but before security. Civic Plaza, a space "big enough to stick a 747 in," is both for travelers and their family and friends, with dining and shopping, as well as monitors showing estimated wait times at security. The goal, Rasmus says, is "to return the idea to us that airports are great public buildings, like the railroad station. Most airports diminish us. The idea of this building is that it accepts the public as meaningful and elevates us all."