To get its guests including more than 50 young professionals and students from 25 countries in mood for the Global LafargeHolcim Awards hand-over in Mexico City, the LafargeHolcim Foundation and colleagues from Holcim Mexico organized a visit to a construction site that seems to break all records. At a cost of USD 14 billion, the new international airport for Mexico City is expected to begin operations by 2020, almost doubling the current capacity to 75 million passengers annually through its main terminal, 96 gates and three concurrent runways.
At the Mexico City New International Airport – Nuevo Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México (NAICM) – 50,000 workers are engaged on the site seven days a week – their number will triple as work progresses. 4,000 trucks move in and out of the compound every day with building and recycled materials. A railway line is being built for the logistics of construction that will later serve the passengers.
Specially designed concrete products to meet LEED standards
Since the construction site is located in the basin of the former Lake Texcoco, the soil for the construction of the runways is being compacted by making it sink two meters into the ground and stabilizing the material below through compression. The basic structure of the 90-meter tall control tower capable of resisting earthquakes up to 9.2 magnitude is complete; a massive steel structure is being mounted on the huge concrete basement. Particularly impressive is the site of the future passenger terminal building, an X-shaped structure of 743,000m2, where an enormous concrete floor plate has been prepared. The mushroom-shaped pillars emerge from the ground, enabling visitors to grasp a sense of the overall dimensions of the airport, designed by architects Lord Norman Foster (United Kingdom) together with Fernando Romero (Mexico).
Holcim Mexico, the local company of LafargeHolcim, is one of the providers of building materials and is supplying high-performance concretes from five on-site batching plants. The concretes are designed to withstand aggressive sulfate conditions and chloride attack, and obtained US certification for sustainability to meet the requirements of LEED Gold and Platinum certification to which the airport aspires.
Largest public infrastructure works in Mexico for more than a century
The design on of the airport on a monumental scale is inspired by Mexican architecture and symbolism. The lightweight glass and steel terminal building has a maximum span internally of 170m. Its unique prefabricated system can be constructed without the need for scaffolding. The entire building is serviced from below the floor, freeing the roof of ducts and pipes and revealing the environmental skin. This hardworking structure harnesses the power of the sun, collects rainwater, provides shading, directs daylight and enables views – all while achieving a high performance envelope that meets high thermal and acoustic standards. The design works with Mexico City’s temperate, dry climate to fill the terminal spaces with fresh air using displacement ventilation principles. For a large part of the year, comfortable temperatures will be maintained by almost 100% outside air, with little or no additional heating or cooling required.
NAICM is the largest public infrastructure works in Mexico for more than a century. Once the airport’s master plan is fully completed in 2065, the complex will feature two more satellite terminals and six runways capable of simultaneous operation – serving 125 million people each year. The new airport is being built on a 4,432 hectare plot to the northeast of Mexico City. Given the proximity to the current airport, about 5km away, the opening of NAICM requires the complete shutdown of the current airport and an immediate transfer of all flight operations.