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Architect Jeanne Gang's Team Chosen To Design Centerpiece Of $8.5 Billion O'Hare Expansion

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago architect Jeanne Gang has been chosen to lead the design and construction of the centerpiece of a massive expansion of O'Hare International Airport.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said his administration is in negotiations with Gang's team, Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners, to design the $2.2 billion Global Terminal, which would replace the existing Terminal 2. The firm was selected from a group of five architecture teams that submitted designs for the new terminal.

Gang's design for the Global Terminal aims to bring the outdoors inside, with its open-concept wood beam ceiling, columns resembling trees, patches of grass in the floor, and actual trees lining the halls.

City officials have not said how they chose Gang's team to design the new terminal, except to say their plan for the global terminal scored highest of the five proposals.

Chief Procurement Officer Shannon Andrews said proposals were scored on their designs, past experience, ability to meet budget requirements, local participation in construction, and more.

Emanuel hedged when asked if he personally liked the winning design.

"I would love to state my opinion, but if I state my opinion, someone's going to get upset," he said Wednesday. "We're making an incredible statement of architectural excellence that speaks to not only our architectural legacy, but our architectural future."

The mayor declined to speculate if his administration would be able to get the contract negotiated and approved before he leaves office in May. The mayor's office said the contract will not require City Council approval.

The city is expected to break ground on the 2.2-million-square-foot Global Terminal in 2023.

The overall $8.5 billion O'Hare expansion project would add dozens of gates, create wider concourses, renovate the other three terminals, and add two new satellite concourses.

The expansion project will be funded with airline ticket fees. No taxpayer dollars would be used for the project.

Crews already have broken ground on the first phase of the project, a $1.2 billion expansion of Terminal 5 at O'Hare, which includes 10 new gates, more space for passengers to sit, and new stores and restaurants.

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