Photo: Eric Mueller

New Barkley Regional Airport Terminal Wins Merit Award


The Barkley Regional Airport new terminal was awarded a 2024 AIA Minneapolis Merit Award! This honor recognizes projects that embody excellence beyond design, emphasizing public interest and the varied forces that shape a building. Here’s how the terminal excelled across the award’s key criteria:

The terminal design prioritizes passenger and staff well-being with technologies such as UV air sanitation, automatic sun shading devices, and toxin-free materials. Its iconic “front porch” welcomes travelers, while the landscaped plaza and spacious, daylight-filled areas enhance comfort and connection to nature. Inspired by Paducah’s UNESCO Creative Cities designation, the terminal also features commissioned art and abstracted quilting patterns, reflecting the city’s vibrant artistic spirit.

The terminal is a testament to community-driven vision, addressing social, economic, and environmental needs while promoting human connections. The design team engaged with client and community representatives through workshops to ensure the terminal reflects local values. Elements like the deep roof extension evoke a traditional front porch for community gatherings, while intimate seating areas, reminiscent of living rooms, fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment.

The project reduces its environmental footprint through passive design strategies. The deep roof extension controls sunlight and solar heat gain, optimizing daylighting opportunities and reducing energy use. Limiting glass to the most prominent customer experience areas allows for maximum use of higher insulated solid wall areas. Sustainable and renewable material sources, along with high-performance insulation further enhance the terminal’s eco-friendliness by lowering its carbon footprint and operational costs.

The new terminal boosts local economic growth by attracting travelers and enhancing Barkley Regional Airport’s competitive edge with larger, area airports. The terminal delivers this economic advantage with an exceptional travel experience, balancing convenience, navigability, and amenities that exceed passenger expectations.

Despite budget constraints, the project achieved these goals and remains flexible enough to accommodate future growth.

During the early stages of this project, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing project work to continue remotely. The team found alternative formats to meaningfully engage with the client and gain a common vision while helping the client to visualize their options. Though this remote style of work is now commonplace, at the start of the pandemic, the creativity and inventiveness of the design team allowed this project to move forward with a great deal of involved and nuanced client engagement.

Additionally, the terminal integrates innovative technologies and materials, such as automatic sun shading devices and art-infused walls that celebrate regional culture while ensuring functionality and sustainability.

This AIA Minneapolis Merit Award recognizes the terminal as a model of architectural excellence, demonstrating how thoughtful design can create a meaningful impact on clients, communities, the environment, and the economy.


Read more about the project here.

Read AIA Minnesota’s press release here.