Last Structural Steel Put In Place On South Terminal Canopy

New South Construction, McCarthy Building Companies, and Synergy Development Partners’ joint venture known as NSMS, along with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), celebrates an important milestone—the installation of the final structural steel on the south terminal canopy and topping out of project. The joint venture broke ground on the project at the world’s most traveled airport in September 2016. The north side canopy was completed in October of 2018. The south side portion of the canopy project reached this milestone 32 days ahead of schedule, thanks to lessons learned from constructing the north canopy. The overall project is expected to be complete in April of 2020.


To celebrate the milestone, approximately 250 people gathered on April 29 for the erection of the final piece of steel. The construction crew, trade partners, and airport officials signed the final structural steel before hoisting it into place. Those in attendance included NSMS’ construction team, subcontractors, project architects, engineers, and ATL executives. 

“We are thrilled to have reached another milestone in our expansive ATLNext capital improvement program,” says Tom Nissalke, assistant general manager for Planning and Development at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “Additionally, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out our safety record and the standards by which our team has performed throughout the project. ATL boasts some of the safest statistics in the world, particularly for a project this size, and that is to be commended.” 


Consisting of 3,500 tons of steel covered in 19,776 square yards of lightweight, ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), the canopies create a new iconic gateway for the City of Atlanta. With an average of 275,000 people traveling through the Atlanta airport every day, the canopies improve the passenger experience by protecting visitors from the elements and improving traffic flow with the planned addition of elevated walkways. 


In addition to the canopies, ATL is modernizing the Central Passenger Terminal Complex (CPTC). NSMS is making upgrades to all 12 entrances and associated facades, lobbies, and curbside check-ins, bringing the nearly 40-year-old terminal into the 21st century. This project is one of the first components of the ATLNext development program. The goal of the project is to bring convenience and connectivity to passengers as well as attract and grow business interest for ATL. 

“Although we still have a way to go, the final structural member’s placement marks the successful completion of over 3 years of planning and execution of an extremely logistically challenging erection project,” says Dan Hobson, project director for NSMS. “General practice is to isolate the public from the construction process; however, in our case, hundreds of thousands of passengers walk directly under it. In the future, as the canopies become an icon for the City of Atlanta, hopefully, many folks will remember watching it being constructed and feel connected to it.”

closing thought: facts

The canopy structures consist of 19 super-trusses on the north and south domestic terminals. 

38 total super-trusses are each anchored to a 21-foot tall pier column and span across eight lanes of traffic. Each of the piers that support the canopy frames is made of nearly 30 cubic yards of concrete and supported on micro piles that are as deep as 75 feet. 

Each span takes one week to put up, one week to align, one week to weld.

The canopy material is ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) membrane, a fluorine-based plastic. ETFE is a durable, recyclable material.

This is the biggest installation of ETFE in the U.S. and the first in an aviation-related project, it is usually used in stadiums.

3,708 colored lights illuminate the canopies.

For more information

Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL) is the world’s busiest and most efficient airport, serving more than 107 million passengers with nonstop service to more than 150 U.S. destinations and 75 international destinations in more than 50 countries. For more, visit

Modern Contractor Solutions, August 2019
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