Original KCI designer: ‘It is time to build a new airport'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Two weeks before voters will decide on if a new $1 billion terminal should be built at Kansas City International Airport, an original designer said the current facility has outlived its convenience.

Bob Berkebile helped design the current facility almost 50 years ago as a member of the Kivett & Myers architectural firm.

Back in the 1970s, Berkebile said KCI offered a special opportunity to Kansas City.

“It was a very big optimistic move for the city,” he said. “The airlines and the design team had committed to creating the most convenient airport in America."

When the facility opened in 1972, supporters praised how the airport offered flyers a short walk from their car to the plane.

However, decades later, Berkebile said security additions led to a much different experience at KCI.

“Unfortunately, now after you make half that walk, you run into a solid secure wall,” Berkebile said, referring to the security walls added to the airport following the 9/11 attacks. “You have to go left or right to find a ticket counter. Then you have to go left or right to find a security system."

Bob Berkebile speaks to a group about the proposal for a new KCI. The original designer said it is time to build a new airport.

The original designer said the facility’s layout, which served as a highlight during its opening, is now a big obstacle moving forward.

“You're doubling back and forth in a very narrow width in that terminal. You spend a lot of time walking. You spend a lot of time waiting,” he said. “The terminals we have do not serve us now and they can't be fixed in order to serve us."

Berkebile told 41 Action News he supported the new KCI terminal proposed by Edgemoor Infrastructure.

“It is time to build a new airport,” he said. “The best solution for our city and region is to build a single terminal that uses new technology.”

The possible new terminal at KCI has served as the primary focus of information sessions over the last few months.

On Tuesday night, dozens of members gathered at the Carriage Club off State Line Road to hear more about the proposal and the current airport’s history.

Barbara O’Hearne, who helped organize the event, said it was important for people to be informed before the vote on KCI’s future.

“We are moving into being a major city and we want to bring conventions,” she said. “People are interested. They want to hear more. They're committed."

With the decision getting closer, Berkebile said he looked forward to seeing how Kansas Citians would vote.

“There are benchmark moments in our city's life. This is one of those moments,” he said. “Kansas City has always at these moments come together and made the right decision.”

The election for a possible new terminal at KCI will be held Nov. 7.

Supporters of the current facility argue that building a new terminal at the airport will make things less convenient for flyers.

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