A Designer’s Airport for the Jet Age

Unlike Eero Saarinen’s

The film emphasizes the importance of minimizing the various stairs, doors, wind blasts, and odors one faces from check-in to boarding. The most exciting solution is the design team’s mobile “Departure Lounges”—the bus-like vehicles that ferry passengers from terminal to aircraft that remain one of the most memorable elements of flying out of Dulles to this day.

“In the lounge,” says the narrator, “the passenger has started his trip and can be ferried to however it is convenient from an operation standpoint. The mobile lounge will be best known for its convenience and luxury. But a very substantial part of its value will come from the freedom and flexibility it gives to airport planning.”

At the end of the film, one of these departure lounges heads towards a futuristic tarmac bristling with rocketships. “In the evolution of these operations,” the narrator adds, “there is a high probability that something like the mobile lounge will be servicing quite a few of the conveyances that are yet to come along.”

That hasn’t quite happened yet, but Dulles still works for the modern world of commercial air travel. Washingtonians are still waiting on the Silver Line extension to take them there more easily though.

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