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Logan Airport

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1923–present. Terminal Rd.

The Massachusetts legislature voted to create a Boston airfield in 1922 to serve the Massachusetts National Guard and civilian travel. When officially opened the following year, the airfield occupied 189 acres reclaimed from Boston Harbor. Within less than one year the first of many airport expansions was already being planned.

A permanent, but modest air terminal was erected in 1929, but a 47 percent increase in air traffic from 1935 to 1941 and the use of larger planes soon rendered the facilities obsolete. The airport was officially named for General Edward Lawrence Logan in 1943 to honor his accomplishments as a soldier, judge, and statesman. In 1944 engineers Thomas and Lichtner and architects Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch and Abbott devised a master plan to accommodate current and future needs, including a large multistory central terminal and a low U-shaped apron building to provide access to the planes. Massive landfill operations, stretching out to Governor's Island and covering two thousand acres by 1949, generated huge public debt and reduced the size of the proposed complex. Instead, the apron building, without the expensive central terminal, was completed in 1949.

When the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) took over the airport in 1959, expansion projects began almost immediately. The 1964 Landrum and Brown master plan established the current footprint of Logan Airport with four large terminals (a fifth added in 1974) connected by passageways, surrounding a central parking facility. The north corner of the apron building, which became known as Terminal D, was used for international flights; a second story was added in 1964. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill designed the significant expansion of this terminal, completed in 2004.

Terminal C (North Terminal), designed by Perry, Dean, Hepburn and Stewart in 1965, was the first major component to be built. The sweeping curve of its roof and its sleek glass curtain wall (obscured by the 1987 addition of a second-level canopy) are reminiscent of the main terminal at Eero Saarinen's Dulles Airport, on which Terminal C's designer, Fritz Kubitz, had recently worked. The design also inaugurated the technique of second-level plane loading, not implemented until 1969.

Construction of Terminal A (Eastern Airlines Terminal) began in 1966 to designs by Minoru Yamasaki, in association with Desmond and Lord. In what was seen as a futuristic concept, three upper floors and roof served as a parking structure. Other modern features included a two-level roadway and second-level plane loading. Unfortunately, structural problems and the danger of parking within the terminal led to its demolition in 2000. A new Terminal A, designed by HOK for the same site, was completed in 2005.

Northwest of the old international terminal, Terminal E (the current international terminal) was the next addition to Logan Airport. The architects, Kubitz and Pepi, devised in 1974 a four-level terraced terminal with passenger loading bridges extending to small satellite structures. The current renovation and expansion to designs by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill will add 430,000 square feet to the terminal, triple the area of the ticketing hall, and create a two-level roadway system.

The final terminal begun at Logan was the South Terminal or Terminal B, completed in 1973. Functionalism and economy were the driving forces behind its design. The architectural firms of John Carl Warnecke and Associates and Desmond and Lord had to plan a terminal that would fit in the 560-foot depth between the roadway and the airfield apron and address severe parking problems. They designed two parallel elongated buildings that jutted out into the airfield and a fivelevel freestanding parking garage in the narrow space between them. American Airlines planned an addition to this area of Terminal B, designed by Gresham Smith and Partners, to improve gate access and passenger amenities (completed in 2005).

The Logan modernization project, completed in 2005, began after a long period with no major airport construction. Congestion and crowding once again drive the plan. Significant building is expanding the Volpe Terminal (E) and Terminal D, rebuilding Terminal A to facilitate access to the airport through connections to the Ted Williams Tunnel and nearby highways, and substantially increasing parking. As with all the additions to Logan Airport, the increased demands must be accommodated on a limited amount of land.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Logan Airport", [Boston, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 214-215.

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