Newark Liberty International Airport’s Terminal A homes in on sense of place

By Luke Barras-hill |

Passengers to Newark Liberty International Airport’s (EWR) new $2.7 billion Terminal A will encounter a distinctive commercial zone with a strong nod towards ‘sense of place’.

The airport is scheduled to open phase one of its revamped Terminal A to the public on 8 December following a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by airport stakeholders and local officials earlier this month [see below video].

Once complete, the new Terminal A will house 33 gates and 35 different concessions – including six local concepts – as part of a footprint spanning one million square feet.

Six retailers from Newark, Elizabeth and Jersey City are among 60 regional, national and global brands to feature at the terminal.

Portland worked closely with Munich Airport International (MAI) on the commercial vision of Terminal A after the latter struck an agreement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) in 2019 for MAI to operate and maintain the terminal.

The new terminal has been described as modern, bright, comfortable, expressive and extraordinary, with Bold art installations celebrate local talent and creativity. Source: Portland.

‘A journey of surprises’

Lewis Allen, Senior Director at Portland, said: “After exploring and researching the history and culture of New Jersey, we were surprised to discover that New Jersey is a ‘State of firsts’.

“For example, it was the first state to have a sea container port, the first organised baseball match was in New Jersey and it was the first state to have a drive-in movie theatre and the list goes on, so this became one of the key drivers of the design strategy and vision which underpinned the commercial proposition that Newark Airport is a ‘Journey of Surprises’.

“This vision ran through MAI’s commercial tender process and set the tenor of the relationship between retailers and brands looking to take space in the airport. Our design has enabled ‘A Journey of Surprises’ to show up through key interventions and experiences throughout the customer journey.”

At the centre of the terminal is a commercial plaza offering a number of local ‘hero’ vendors, brought to life through product provenance, menu choices, visual references and more.

New Jersey-inspired children’s play areas are positioned along the three piers and assume individual themes of ‘Sports’, ‘Music & Arts’ and ‘Technology’.

Among the other wayfinding wonders, bespoke furniture typologies such as ‘People watcher’, ‘Community bench’ and ‘Perching Pebbles’ echo New Jersey’s different terrains and vibes.

In comments given to during the official opening on 15 November, Huntley Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer, PANYNJ said: “This particular terminal is all about the State of New Jersey and sense of place.

“Everything about this facility will tell customers they are in New Jersey and about to go through a unique experience that includes several different artefacts, artwork, different trees and plants and seating.”

The new terminal replaces the outdated current structure, which first opened in 1973, and will accommodate more than 13 million travellers per annum.

Alongside a raft of amenities and facilities, particular attention has been paid to sustainable design, with integral solar panels on the curbside glass canopy and roof of the integrated parking structure, new electric buses to support shuttle operations, water-efficient fixtures, a ‘cool roof’ and energy efficient indoor lighting and controls.

PANYNJ Governor Phil Murphy added: “The experience in this building will literally transform how people think about New Jersey. It’s a gamechanger.”

Video source: PANYNJ.

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