Monday, November 16, 2009

Madrid Airport

There's no question, I have put on a lot of miles this past year. Since May, I've taken seven cross Atlantic flights, and there's at least one more trip to make back home. Within the States, I've flown from Chicago to Nevada, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. I have seen a lot of airports! In my opinion, the most impressive terminal of all is at Madrid's Barajas International airport.


The T4 terminal opened in 2006 after many delays. By all appearances it was worth the wait. The architecture, by Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers, features a wave form roof supported by slender steel posts. The interior colors gradually change from bright yellow to green to blue with slightly different shades on each successive support line. Large window walls on both sides of the long terminal allow in a great amount of natural light. Even a weary international traveler can appreciate a few moments basking in the Iberian sun.

The bowels of the terminal contain a vast and complex interchange of pedestrian paths through boutiques. At many points along your long journey from one terminal to another, signs indicate approximately how many minutes it will take you to reach the desired gate area. Groggy from the long international flight, I was able to make my way through the maze by following the frequent signage. Along the way, I rode a modernistic tram, ascended multiple escalators and strolled through the flashy duty-free mall.

This architectural gem is unlikely to impress everyone. Richard Rogers in renown for architecture that presses the limits of current convention and taste. His most famous designs include the Pompidou Centre modern art museum in Paris and the Lloyd's of London Building in London. Both designs are notable for placing much of the mechanical innards of a traditional building outside and visible to the public. Though critically panned, both buildings are now landmarks. The Barajas terminals are less evocative, but they still make a strong statement - one of comfort and inviting if only for a brief respite for tired travelers.

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This work by Ken Maschke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.