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Insights — Design Stories

Design & Passenger Experience at BNA

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BNA Canopy

A Transformative Program

BNA Vision is a transformative airport modernization and expansion project to increase capacity and elevate the passenger experience at Nashville International Airport. Driven by significant growth in passenger traffic, BNA becomes a new civic symbol for Nashville, reflective of its people, culture, and history. Five key goals guided this effort: Elevating the passenger experience, clarity and ease of use, creating a unique sense of place, operational efficiency, and sustainability.

The design process was deeply informed by extensive and early stakeholder engagement consisting of visioning workshops on topics such as: representing the Nashville community, passenger amenities, and sustainability goals. This early engagement and alignment of the various requirements, opportunities, and challenges was critical in defining a common set of design objectives and creating a shared sense of purpose for all the work that is involved in a comprehensive airport modernization program.


Intuitive Wayfinding

We place passenger experience at the heart of every design decision. By understanding the needs and desires of passengers, we create an elevated, convenient, and exciting journey. A key element of achieving this goal is the importance of clear wayfinding in airports, where passengers often navigate unfamiliar surroundings. At BNA, we used elements such as architectural form, light, materials, and landmarks to guide travelers seamlessly through the terminal. Additionally, our design promotes visual transparency, allowing passengers to glimpse the airfield and fostering a sense of anticipation and excitement. The result is an experience that reduces passenger stress, elevates the experience, and provide a sense of connection to Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

The vision for the newly imagined terminal building starts with the iconic “Airwave” canopy.  Punctuated with skylights, it connects from the plaza, over the roadway, and through the interior of the terminal to the new international gates.  It unifies the campus into a cohesive experience for airport users and guides their journey. The spacious new Grand Lobby is organized around a daylit vertical circulation core, providing intuitive wayfinding and ease of access to the various levels. Overhead, the ceiling curves to direct views through the terminal, to security, beyond to the new concession node, then to the new international gates, and finally, the airfield beyond. 

Integration of Art, Nature, and Culture

The harmonious integration art, nature, and local culture play a significant role in creating an authentic, memorable, and holistic experience for passengers at BNA. We carefully integrated artworks celebrating Nashville’s rich heritage and cultural identity, fostering a sense of place and pride.  Further, biophilic elements such as ample daylight, natural materials and patterns, and real and preserved plantings connect the airport experience to the rich environment of the Cumberland Forest region and serve as a calming element within the sometimes hectic process of air travel.

BNA Living Wall

A key example of this is the security checkpoint, an area recognized as of the most stressful parts of the airport experience. At BNA, we sought to transform this perception by incorporating calming elements from nature with extensive “green walls” of preserved moss.  These elements feature patterns that reflect the rich musical heritage of Nashville, as well as local icons such as the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge.  These walls reduce the ambient sound in a usually noisy space, provide a calming biophilic elements, and reflect the local culture.

BNA dining area

The Marketplace: Creating a civic heart for the Airport:

One of the highlights of the new BNA is “The Marketplace.” This open-concept concession area provides a unique and inviting atmosphere akin to a town center. With its carefully curated selection of retail and dining options, ample seating, vegetation, and a civic scale, The Marketplace creates a central destination within the airport where passengers can relax, socialize, and savor the local flavors.  It serves as a meeting place and vibrant civic heart for the airport.

Sustainable Design and Future-Forward Approach:

Sustainability is a core value in our design philosophy at Corgan. We prioritized sustainable materials, energy-efficient systems, and innovative technologies as key component of the BNA Vision Program. Our future-forward approach ensures that BNA remains adaptable to evolving needs and can accommodate future expansions and advancements in the aviation industry.

The design and passenger experience at BNA exemplify our commitment to redefining airport design. By prioritizing the needs and desires of passengers, incorporating nature-inspired elements, celebrating art and culture, and integrating sustainable practices, we have created an airport that exceeds expectations, and has perhaps most importantly, has been embraced by locals, visitors, and operators. BNA is not just a place of transit; it is an inspiring environment, deeply rooted in a sense of place, that leaves a lasting impression on every traveler. Through our innovative design approach, we have set a new standard for airport experiences, making BNA a true gateway to the vibrant spirit of Nashville.

BNA High-Res Video Screens

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