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Officials: ‘Wow factor’ on approach for ’80s-era space

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As first impressions go, the Columbus Municipal Airport’s terminal doesn’t tell you much — unless you want to travel back to the 1980s.

The terminal, built in that decade, is original to the day it opened. Everything from the ceiling tiles to the lobby seats are original.

Even airport director Bryan Payne describes the look as tired and dated.

Roof leak stains in the ceiling haven’t helped the terminal’s appearance in the lobby, restrooms, meeting rooms, pilot’s lounge and basement area.

An Indianapolis-based architecture firm is planning to change that — and spent a day earlier this month coming up with new designs.

Their assignment, from Columbus Aviation Board members, is to create a “wow factor” when air travelers arrive here, Payne said.

With about 100 incoming or departing flights on average each day, there’s a chance to impress a large number of travelers.

Terminal guests include people ordering about 20 meals per day at the airport’s Blackerby’s Hangar Five restaurant.

Representatives from Rowland Design toured the facility April 11, talking to airport visitors and staff. Within just a few hours, they made a presentation to Payne about how to get to “wow.”

Columbus native Sarah Marr-Schwartzkopf, the firm’s chief executive officer, suggested creating a more inviting lobby and reception service area, adding new and additional seating, and installing more light in the terminal basement.

Payne said the terminal lobby now has room for about 10 visitors at a time, and he would like to see that number double.

Marr-Schwartzkopf also suggested providing visitors with a sense of place.

“When you walk into the lobby, you don’t know where you are,” she said.

She suggested photographs of buildings that would highlight the community’s rich architecture.

Ivy Tech professor Janice Banister said interior design students have been working alongside Rowland Design to come up with new ideas for the interior.

Her students created presentations for the aviation board detailing the scope of work that will need to go into the renovation.

But in February, Banister told the board that Ivy Tech’s role in the process would stop at the design stage.

Rowland was hired to take over the rest of the project such as finalizing a design, bidding the work out and overseeing the construction process, she said.

Cummins Inc. pilot Chris Raskob, who sees airport terminals all over the country, said the Columbus renovations will improve the image and brand for the city.

“The terminal serves as both a first and last impression for visitors who travel via aircraft,” he said. “As an entry point to the community, this project helps to ensure that the terminal is a welcoming and inviting space, just like the entire city of Columbus.”

Raskob said it’s common for most of the pilots coming to Columbus to only spend a few hours on the ground and at the terminal. The renovation will provide these pilots with the necessary facilities for a comfortable and productive visit, and the resources necessary to prepare for their next flight, he said.

Aviation board members have been considering a remodel since last year, Payne said. The board approved paying Rowland Design $26,700 to design a new interior. The board has also spent $64,500 to replace a leaking terminal

roof as the first phase of terminal improvements.

The airport is owned by the city, but is self-sustaining with no taxpayer dollars involved in its operation.

There is no price estimate yet for the project, Payne said.

Payne said the airport’s restaurant would not be part of the interior renovation, but it could be remodeled in the future.

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