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SMF Celebrates 10 Years of Terminal B

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Since the completion of its initial design in 1967, Sacramento International Airport (SMF) has seen its share of major milestones.


While each step in the evolution of the airport holds a significant place in SMF’s history, one stands above the rest.


This week SMF celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the $1.03 billion terminal modernization project, known then as “The Big Build”. At the time it was the largest public construction capital improvement project undertaken by Sacramento County, the centerpiece of which is now known simply as Terminal B.


Over the course of the last decade, millions of passengers have traveled through Terminal B, catching flights to hundreds destinations. Upon its completion, Travel + Leisure magazine named Terminal B one of the “Coolest New Airport Terminals.”


Originally known as the Sacramento Metropolitan Airport, SMF was the first purpose-built public-use airport west of the Mississippi.


In 1998, SMF opened the current Terminal A, and what was then known as Sacramento Metropolitan Airport became Sacramento International Airport, anticipating international flights that started in 2002. At the time, Terminal A was considered modern, but Sacramento County and other community leaders knew that for SMF to remain the gateway to Northern California, additional terminal facilities would be needed.


What happened next was an unprecedented level of collaboration, support and determination to develop a vision for the new Terminal B that would become an architectural and travel icon for the region.


“The construction of Terminal B took SMF from a regional airport to a major gateway to California,” said Cindy Nichol, Sacramento County Director of Airports. “The spacious and beautiful terminal provides an inspiring welcome to arriving visitors, while residents see their hometown reflected in our shops, art and friendly staff.”


The Big Build included a new central terminal, as well as a 19-gate airside concourse, international arrivals facilities, passenger security checkpoints, an in-line baggage screening system and more than 42,000-square-feet of concessions.


The airport’s expanded terminal facilities have made it possible for SMF to accommodate the projected growth in travel demand- while providing a remarkable gateway to the Central Valley.


Architects captured the region’s rich history and culture while creating a unique sense of place that represents Sacramento. The vaulted three-story glass-walled structure offers panoramic views on three sides, including toward downtown and the mountains. Inside, the overhead beams create a dynamic rhythm of light and shadow, an effect inspired by Sacramento’s lush tree-lined streets.


Terminal B glows with natural light. Its floor-to-ceiling windows not only make the building bright and airy but also maximize daylight to reduce internal energy use. Other sustainable features include solar shading devices, low-E glass to minimize heat gain and use of recycled materials.


Another standout feature is the array of artwork by renowned local and international artists. “Leap,” the giant red rabbit jumping into a suitcase, has become an iconic symbol of SMF. Artist Christian Moeller of Los Angeles’ intricate woodwork panel featuring six faces of the baggage handlers is one of many creative pieces that range from tile mosaics to walk-through sculptures.


Terminal B highlights County’s desire to further represent the Sacramento region by focusing local restaurants throughout the concourse. Restaurants like Jack’s Urban Eats and Squeeze Inn make the concourse an extension of the region’s culinary experiences.


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