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Green light is on for new airport car rental facility.

Graf & Lewent Architects announced that the firm's newly designed car rental facility at the JFK AirTrain Passenger Station at Federal Circle is fully under construction and is scheduled for completion Spring 2006.

Known as the Consolidated Car Rental Building, the project accommodates facilities for three major car rental companies. The new building offers AirTrain passengers to and from JFK International Airport a more convenient junction for picking up or returning cars to rental companies located there. VRH Construction is the general contractor for this $3.5 million project.

With the launch of AirTrain service between JFK airport terminals and the opening of the station at Federal Circle, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey seized the opportunity to centralize several airport car rental offices. Because of the firm's familiarity with Port Authority requirements and procedures, and its expertise with airline and car rental facilities, GLA was hired to design the consolidated building to accommodate Budget, National and Dollar Rent-A-Car customer offices.

Located directly opposite the platform for the AirTrain station stop, the project, through the elimination of shuttle vans to and from the rental offices, will result in a faster commute between the airport terminals and the rental offices, reduced traffic on airport roadways, better air quality and a modern, convenient facility for customers to arrange car rentals.

"The Consolidated Car Rental Building project involves not only 'construction' related challenges presented by the proximity of the AirTrain facilities, but 'people' issues due to the number of client, parent company and owner representatives," said Steve Lewent, AIA, GLA partner and project leader.

"Our design team is very experienced in managing projects of this nature, with technical matters as well as numerous client communication channels."

The new consolidated rental office building balances functionality and style on a relatively modest budget. The overall design is clean and sleek; the exterior utilizes flat and corrugated aluminum panels and an inviting glass curtain wall entranceway. Through inventive use of colors, counters, flooring, wall materials and lighting schemes for the interior, GLA was able to offer each car rental company a unique and attractive space that blends into a cohesive building.

Although one might assume the project is straightforward, there are several construction challenges involved. Tall pile driving equipment requires special permits from the Port Authority and 48-hour notification prior to usage to allow detouring of the AirTrain. Usage of cranes over 80' tall requires clearance from the Federal Aviation Authority due to the proximity to flight paths.

The lack of reliable mapping of existing underground electrical conduits and gas pipelines in the construction site has necessitated some delays while these utilities are relocated to accommodate footings and foundations. Due to the Consolidated Car Rental Building's proximity to the AirTrain station, building code requirements call for the curtain wall facade to be two-hour fire-rated. GLA designed a special deluge sprinkler system along the facade, without which the nearly all-glass facade would not have been possible.

Centralizing car rental office space in one building meant that the car lots, fuel stations and service buildings for each of the individual car rental companies would also need redesign or modification. GLA is currently working with Budget and National to redesign and streamline their facilities and traffic flow, and to improve the customers' movement between the office and the car lots.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Nov 23, 2005
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