Skip to content

Airport Expansion Restores Grand Entrance

Balances Convenience and Security

by Maggie Richardson

“This gives us increased efficiency, increased convenience and the kind of image we need to present to visitors and business travelers,”

– Airport Director Anthony Marino

WHLC's design of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) terminal expansion restores a grand arrival court for visitors and residents of the capital city. It also adds a larger, more efficient screening area with new passenger amenities, including a robust retail area closer to gates. WHLC planned the project in multiple phases so the airport remained fully operational from start to finish.


With sustained economic growth in the Louisiana Capital Region, the BTR leadership recognized the need to reposition key components of the airport complex.

Shortly before 9/11 in 2001, WHLC designed a large central atrium for BTR that brought a new level of sophistication to the airport. The atrium's glass rotunda, illuminated by natural light, dramatically improved the user experience and became one of the region's celebrated public spaces. But quickly after the atrium's opening, security requirements changed significantly -- brought on by 9/11. BTR suddenly needed larger security screening areas, which altered the new terminal design. With the rotunda no longer available as a pre-security space for greeters to wait, the airport lost its intended arrival court.

In the ensuing years, the airport's security screening lanes outgrew their original space with the addition of new equipment required by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). BTR hosts four major carriers and sees more than 800,000 passengers annually, and the increased traffic had begun to strain the screening area's capacity.

WHLC's solution was to reposition and enlarge the security check-in area within a custom translucent glass enclosure. The project included a 40,000 sf renovation, including 15,000 sf of new space. The design reclaims the existing rotunda atrium as a welcoming arrival court. And, it creates expanded space beyond the security checkpoint for additional seating and conveniently located retail and dining.

“This was a very successful design process and it improves a key regional asset. Taking our previously designed rotunda space to reestablish an enhanced arrival court with better security access creates a much better user experience.”

– WHLC Principal Rex Cabaniss

Led by Project Architect Micah Morgan, the BTR expansion presented challenging security issues. The team worked closely with BTR and TSA to create a new state-of-the-art screening area that improves traffic flow and helps BTR stay apace with TSA's long-term requirements. The space can accommodate additional future equipment such as full body scanners, liquid scanners and private screening booths.

“We worked with the airport and TSA to create a design flexible enough to respond to future security requirements and that stayed within the project's budget," Morgan states.

Morgan also designed a graded opacity glass enclosure to conceal views into the security area while providing a sleek, contemporary appearance. The enclosure creates a subtle boundary between the pre- and post-security areas, further establishing the pre-security arrival hall as celebratory space that brings together passengers and greeters.

The 15,000 sf expansion in the post-security area provides improved space for passengers to enjoy retail shops and restaurants, and to wait for flights in seating areas equipped with convenient charging stations. This new gallery is wrapped around the existing rotunda and is illuminated by a continuous skylight and floor-to-ceiling windows. With ample natural light and panoramic views of arriving and departing planes, the passenger gallery helps define the culture of the airport -- and of Baton Rouge -- by providing a satisfying experience for arriving passengers. As they traverse the jet-way and enter the terminal, passengers take in the ample natural light and generous, modern space. It sends a powerful message about the Louisiana capital city's commitment to welcoming home residents and inviting newcomers.

Like the arrival court and improved security area, the retail space brings new energy to the airport. The original gift shop was repositioned and rebranded CNBC News, reflecting the business travel audience frequenting the facility. Digital monitors keep passengers updated on current events prior to takeoff. Two new regional dining establishments have also been added.

Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport Director of Aviation Anthony Marino lauded the design at the expansion's ribbon cutting ceremony. “This gives us increased efficiency, increased convenience and the kind of image we need to present to visitors and business travelers," he said. “It's part of our strategy to be an airport that offers all the amenities of a larger airport but with more ease."