The first phase of the Tucson International Airport's expansion and renovation was recently completed, adding an 80,000-square-foot terminal to the facility, which features an enlarged baggage claim area, more space around ticket counters and various technological improvements. The architectural plan for the new terminal and rental car complex was conceived to complement the surrounding desert's natural beauty and to enhance the Southwestern style. Indian sandstone from Southland Stone USA, Inc. of North Hollywood, CA, was selected for various elements of the project, as was sandstone from Arizona.

According to Project Architect Vernon Pounds from HNTB Architecture, Inc. of Los Angeles, CA, the design goal of the project was to expand the terminal to meet the needs of the airport through the year 2020. “It was accomplished by relocating the rental car function to a new facility adjacent to the terminal and expanding the terminal on the land side,” said Pounds.

According to the architect, two types of sandstone were implemented. “Sandstone from India was used on portions of the front exterior wall and interior columns,” said Pounds, adding that it was selected for its color and pattern, which reflect a desert-like environment. “Sandstone from Arizona was used on the major walls that cut through the building and align with a side of the entrances to the concourses.” Southland Stone supplied 40,000 square feet of Rainbow sandstone, from India, for the project.

Pounds added that the average-sized Rainbow sandstone panel measured 24 x 30 inches, and the average size of the Arizona sandstone pieces varied from 4 inches high with various lengths to approximately 16 x 24 inches. “The finish of the Indian sandstone is fairly smooth, created by sawing,” he said. “The finish of the Arizona sandstone is created by fracturing.”

Foley Tile, Inc. of Tucson, AZ, was responsible for the installation of the stonework at the airport. According to Wayne Coalter, estimator for the project, the stone veneer on the rental car facility had a thickness of 3 cm and was anchored to the structure. Meanwhile the stone on the terminal expansion was specified as a 1-cm thinset application during the value engineering process. This was an alternative to using the stone set on honeycomb aluminum panels. “It was fortunate that the same material was applicable in both thicknesses to provide continuity in the phases and value engineering during the terminal budgeting stages,” said Coalter.

He added that the installation of the stone began in 2001 at the rental car facility and continued through 2004 with the terminal expansion phases. “It was understood that the thinset veneer depended on the proper installation of the substrates to provide good planes and proper support,” said Coalter. “Good communication of that importance early in the project resulted in better quality in the finished product." Coalter said that the largest crew contained less than 12 men. “Due to the fact that the stone veneer was an accent material in several locations, no intense large manpower was needed at any given time,” he said. “The work was also done in phases so that there were several breaks in the stone veneer application.”

Overall construction of the airport began in the fall of 2000 and was completed this past May. “The reaction to the project has been very positive,” said Pounds. “The contractor, Sundt Construction, did an excellent job.”

End Box

Tucson International Airport
Tucson, AZ

Architect: HNTB Architecture, Inc., Los Angeles, CA
General Contractor: Sundt Construction Inc., Tempe, AZ
Stone Suppliers: Southland Stone USA, Inc., North Hollywood, CA (Rainbow Sandstone); American Sandstone, Chino Valley, AZ (Arizona Sandstone)
Stone Fabricator: American Sandstone, Chino Valley, AZ (Arizona sandstone)
Stone Installer: Foley Tile, Inc., Tucson, AZ