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New looks at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport’s forthcoming $1 billion terminal

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A side-by-side comparison of the terminal renderings and IRL progress

A rendering of a T-shaped airport terminal with glass curving around its edges.

Locals and visitors know Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) as a place where you can get a beignet while being reminded by multiple advertisements that New Orleans is No. 1 in liver transplants. Built in 1959, the airport’s domed, ribbed arrival hall feels reminiscent of a whale’s belly. But aesthetic concerns aside, the aging airport posed security issues and incurred mounting maintenance costs.

Come May 15, MSY will boast an airy, futuristic new terminal on its north side. Designed by architect Cesar Pelli and the Crescent City Aviation Team, the 35-gate terminal is 90 percent complete.

“The building’s form evokes the geography of the Delta region and soft curves of the Mississippi River,” Pelli said in a statement. “Symmetrical in plan, the building forms a gentle arc on three sides. A monumental roof rises toward the building’s centerline, where it crests over a large central skylight. The terminal facades are primarily glass, allowing for views out to the airfield.”

Construction of the 972,000-square-foot terminal started in 2016. The “Jazz Garden” in the baggage claim area features lots of natural light, plants, and a stage with live music.

The ticket lobby has more than 100 check-in counters.

Good news for those of us who aren’t part of the TSA PreCheck program: the airport’s consolidated security checkpoint funnels passengers from all concourses into one football field-sized area. Because security checkpoints aren’t split up between multiple concourses, the operation should be more streamlined and efficient, and (hopefully) take less time.

The new terminal features 45 food, beverage, and retail vendors, including local brands MoPho, Angelo Brocato’s, Cafe du Monde, Lucky Dogs, Mondo, Fleurty Girl, Cure, Dirty Coast, PJ’s Coffee, The Advocate, Emeril’s, and NOLA Couture. No construction shots are available of the food court, but here’s a rendering.

Here’s a look at one of the terminal’s three new concourses.

This terminal will replace the existing terminal on the airport’s south side, according to reporting from The Advocate. Officials hope it will provide a top-of-the-line experience commensurate with the expectations of the millions of tourists who travel through the airport each year.