LAX’s ConRAC Facility is Ready for Takeoff

Some projects Syska Hennessy works on are large-scale. Others are iconic. And some, like Los Angeles International Airport’s (LAX) Consolidated Rent-A-Car (ConRAC) project, are both. Located adjacent to the 405 Freeway about two miles from LAX, one of the world’s best-known airports, ConRAC contains approximately 6.4 million square feet. The facility will house more than 18,000 rental care vehicles, significantly relieving traffic congestion, and will link to all terminals through the Automated People Mover (APM).

As part of a design build team, working on a design, build, finance, operate, and maintain (DBFOM) project under a public-private-partnership (P3) contract, the Syska-led team was responsible for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering, along with sustainability, vertical transportation, IT/telecommunications, and security. The project is a key initiative in Los Angeles World Airport’s (LAWA) Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP), for which Syska serves as ConRAC’s master engineer. Significant milestones in the program include the modernization of Tom Bradley Terminal, the new airport police facility, and construction of the APM station at the American Airlines Terminal. ConRAC will represent another.

Syska team members include Charbel Farah, project principal and QA/QC lead; Eric Rochelson, who leads IT/telecommunications design, including security and integration; and Sam Mahdavian, who served as Syska’s project manager and lead electrical engineer. Sam told us about Syska’s approach to designing systems for what he describes as “an exceptionally complex project.”

Timing is Everything

“A site this large comes with a significant amount of power needs,” says Sam. “One of our most important objectives, therefore, was getting the electrical services energized early on with the help of our partners PCL Construction Services, Inc. and electrical contractor Morrow Meadows.” He explains that the process involved not only infrastructure preparation, but also coordination with local agencies. Design of utility power systems typically takes six months to a year, while construction and energization takes an additional year. “The more substations and transformers you need, the greater the time commitment,” Sam points out.

Fortunately, Syska’s LA team has a long history of working with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). As soon as the project started, the team that included PCL and Morrow Meadows contacted LADWP, arranged meetings, and got the energization off to a fast start. So fast, in fact, that the building that houses the facility’s electrical service and utility transformers was the first to be permitted, finalized, and constructed.

“Syska and the extended team simply got things done,” states Jeff Weiner, executive vice president of PGAL and DBFOM design manager. “The team made sure that we got all the approvals we needed in a timely fashion, despite having to overcome the hurdles of COVID restrictions.

His colleague Stephanie Kazanecki, associate principal, adds: “Syska’s commitment to the schedule was one of the reasons we were able to complete a 24-month design process undertaking in only 14 months.”

Decarbonization – Yes, Really

You read that right. LAX has the second largest rental car market of any domestic airport, but by situating the ConRAC facility at an APM train station and across the street from a Metro connector, LAX is eliminating more than 3,200 daily trips by rental car shuttles.

Furthermore, Syska has positioned ConRAC for LEED Silver certification by designing reclaimed water systems and a developing a schematic design for the solar farm that generates more than 8,400 megawatt hours on a yearly basis. “You don’t expect a large rental car facility to be a green and sustainable facility, but this one is,” notes Sam.

What’s Next

The next phase of the project is tenant improvements; Syska’s work on the core and shell is complete. But we have more projects lined up for LAWA’s Landside Access Modernization Program, including the Midfield Satellite Concourse. All of these will further improve the passenger experience, and just in time for two big events. As Sam observes: “Los Angeles is hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2026 and the Olympics in 2028. Visitors coming through LAX will have a great first impression of the city.”

Categories:

Videos, Case Study