Case Study

American Airlines O’Hare Hangar 2 | Chicago, IL, USA

There is nothing small about Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. As the sixth-busiest airport in the world and the hub of two major U.S. airlines, O’Hare is big, averaging more daily take-offs and landings than any other airport in the world. But even by O’Hare’s standards, the American Airlines O’Hare Hangar 2 is really big.

The hangar, unveiled in 2019, is over 600 feet long, 300 feet wide and 120 feet high. It took almost three years to build, cost $251 million and is recognized as the longest clear-span, dual entry airline hangar in the world. The signature feature is two bookend ‘light bars’ capped by Kalwall® translucent sandwich panels.

Kalwall allows glare-free natural light into the building and provides superior thermal performance. The lightweight panels also fit seamlessly with the building’s primary steel supports, which positively impacted the bottom line since there was no need for a secondary structural system.

The hangar was designed by Ghafari Associates, an international architectural and engineering firm regarded as one of the top airport designers in the world. “Our design approach integrates structure, architecture, lighting aspects, sustainability,” says Joseph Gonzalez, global design director at Ghafari.

Kalwall panels were an ideal solution because they provided a striking architecture feature and allowed Ghafari to best utilize daylight harvesting to reduce overhead lighting and lower energy costs. To help minimize the glare from the sun reflecting off the building, which is important since it is located near active runways, Kalwall provided a custom exterior face to match the metal building panels.

The distinct look of Hangar 2 not only conforms to the O’Hare modernization program, but has improved the airline’s aircraft and maintenance operations since it has operable doors on both ends to move planes in and out faster.

In this case, bigger is better.


Award of Merit for Best Projects of 2019
Engineering News-Record Midwest Magazine

Honorable Mention
2019 Airports Going Green Awards

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Panel: 2.75˝ | 70 mm
Grid core: shoji
Exterior FRP: crystal
Interior FRP: white
System finish: custom KCRF
U-Value: .14 | .78 Wm2K
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient: .17
Visible Light Transmission: 12%

Take advantage of our complimentary daylight modeling services to understand how a Kalwall will impact your design.

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