Fall 2023

Touchdown, Kansas City!

KCI’s new terminal debuts–all spiffed up with a soaring design and inspired experience.

Words by Gloria Gale


Toto, there really is an Emerald City,” Dorothy may well have exclaimed upon discovering the new KCI airport.

She shouldn’t be surprised.

Kansas City’s always been blessed with an abundance of power and light—even more so now as it touts its prismatic and polished new terminal that’s finally taking a bow after several years of careful planning and development.

From start to finish, literally thousands of people have helped produce this $1.5 billion jewel investment, undoubtedly the largest single infrastructure project in Kansas City history. The designers, builders, craftspeople and artists—all forward-thinkers—contributed to a public project that’s as efficient as it is beautiful.

According to the principal architects at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), a driving force behind the design is a commitment to giving passengers an easy journey.

The simple, I-shaped building design yields two levels—one for departures and one for arrival—all meant to reduce traveler confusion.Check-in and security are housed in the upper level’s expansive departure lobby.

Situated on the lower level: baggage claims, customs and an outdoor public garden.

“Once cleared through security, two parallel concourses with retail at the center are linked by a pedestrian passage. All post-security spaces are on the same level—a design move that creates an easier journey for all passengers,” the architects state.

Exceptional aesthetics married with KCMO's One Percent for Art program

Airports have become a canvas for creativity and character. 

Coast to coast, newly built airports aim to distinguish themselves with artistic talent worldwide. Kansas City is no exception, seeking meaningful art sourced locally to internationally.

“We were in this call for artwork representing diversity, equity and inclusion from the very beginning,” says James Martin, Kansas City’s public art administrator.

Inspired by the scope and prestige of the largest public art program in Kansas City’s history—with a $5.6 million budget—a field of 1,900 applicants was culled through a rigorous selection process, granting final commissions to 28 standout artists.   

The result of this new airport speaks for itself. As Mayor Quinton Lucas stated on opening day, “This is a city in motion.” 

Wheels up!

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