Mile High City Master Plan
Skyrocketing growth drives two-phased Master Plan for DIA
When the 53-square-mile Denver International Airport (DIA) was commissioned in 1995, it was hard to fathom the United States’ biggest airport would run out of runway anytime soon. However, when the airport reached its first capacity trigger in less than a decade of opening day, it sparked plans for expansion—including more gates, a rail station, hotels, and other mechanisms to handle the swiftly growing volume of passengers. However, immediate concerns—including burgeoning terminals and other facility limitations—demanded quick solutions, too. DIA executives needed a savvy team to help plan for today and tomorrow’s growth.
In 2006, the City and County of Denver turned to a 14-person team at Ricondo, who recommended the creation of a two-phased master plan update strategy to accommodate immediate needs, while providing a thoughtful long-term view to 2030.
Phase I of the Master Plan Update included technical analyses of the terminal core area, which helped identify facility limitations and trigger points, coupled with flexible recommendations to accommodate various scenarios. Phase I culminated with the timing, sequencing, and defined expansion of the terminal building, which included a commuter rail station, extended people mover system, and modifications to the international passenger processing and baggage claim facilities.
Phase II included additional technical analysis and trigger-point identification—but this time over a 25-year planning horizon. Ricondo carefully balanced facility needs with financial impact, flexibility, and future goals of the city and airport management to provide the right solution. Ultimately, the Master Plan Update was incorporated into the Airport Layout Plan and approved by the FAA in 2011.
Ricondo continues to provide technical support in an on-call basis, helping DIA rise through the ranks in less than 25 years to become the 5th and 7th busiest airport in the United States in terms of total passengers and aircraft operations, respectively.