Have I mentioned before that I love airports? And movies? And sentimental movies that include airport scenes, such as Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair and Casablanca, with its iconic final scene in which Humphrey Bogart says “… this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” to the little French official as the airplane carrying Ingrid Bergman fades into the night sky. So it has been for me! A beautiful friendship with airports.
As a frequent traveller, the most important impression that I get from an airport is its roof! I clearly remember the first airport roof I was impressed by: Renzo Piano’s Kansai Airport, where I first landed in 1999 when Swissair operated direct flights to Osaka. Kansai Airport sits on an artificial island off the coast of Osaka and has a wavelike, surging roof that uses the motif of the sea and waves.
In E.M. Forster’s witty Edwardian novel “A Room with a View”, which was later filmed, there is the key scene where Lucy opens the window of the Florentine room overlooking breath-taking River Arno and Duomo scenery and is simply enraptured by the view. That scene is so reminiscent of my view of Los Angeles Airport’s new Tom Bradley Terminal from the cockpit of our Airbus 340.
Whenever approaching LAX during the last couple of years I’ve made sure I can go see my colleagues in the cockpit to catch a view of the landscape beneath us. So I would thus be able to see the Hollywood sign to the right, the various highways, the film studios and most importantly, the approaching airport. For the last couple of years I have been following the modernization of the new Tom Bradley International Terminal, where SWISS is located, from up in the air and have witnessed its beautiful cascading roof structure being erected – created by as an allusion to the breaking waves of the Pacific Ocean by Fentress Architects, who are famous for including vernacular symbols and the sense of place into their architecture. I find that very poetic! (Back home in Zurich, there’s yodelling and other Swiss references in the Skymetro between the main terminal and the midfield terminal.) I like that terminal so much that even when on vacation in L.A. I go hang out there with my friends Ekua and Robert, SWISS station managers at LAX airport.
When finished sometime in the summer of this year, the new terminal will welcome passengers and crews in its Great Hall with a sky high ceiling and glass curtain walls, and the wavelike roof above the gates will have glass facades letting in the natural light and presenting views of the Pacific Ocean or Santa Monica Mountains from the different levels. I am so impatient to see the finished version! Until then I’ll look at its roof from up in the air.