Saying Goodbye to Terminal 1 North and South

The next time you drive to RDU, the airport landscape may look a lot different. That’s because sections of Terminal 1 dating back to the 1950’s are coming down. The work began in late April and will continue through the summer.

Artist Rendering New Terminal 1955 RDU

Artists rendering of the 1955 terminal shortly before construction. 

In 1955, the oldest part of the building now known as Terminal 1 opened, replacing the airport’s previous terminal – a temporary structure that was once barracks when the airport was a U.S. Army airfield.

Over time, the building was expanded and reshaped to fit the growth of our region and the changing demands of aviation.

During the 1960s and 1970s, new bag claim space was added to the northern end of the building and a three-story addition for airport offices rose above the terminal’s ground level. In the 1980’s an entirely new structure was built adjacent to the original terminal and the names terminal “A” and “B” were used for the first time.

My beautiful picture

Construction of a new north concourse in the late 1990s

In the 1990’s a new north concourse rose above the 1955 terminal building and an underground pedestrian tunnel to the parking garage was added.

Another modification to the building, and one of the sections currently being demolished was a 5-gate south concourse extension built to add space to new carriers operating from the terminal.

For many longtime Triangle residents, flying meant a trip through Terminal 1 (formerly known as A and B terminal sections). While the airport constructed a new American Airlines hub in 1987, the workhorse terminal of RDU remained the “blue box” on the east side of the airfield. It remained that way until late 2008, when Terminal 2 opened and the migration of air carriers from east to west across the airport campus began.

T1 Demo

Today, demolition is underway on the north and south sections of Terminal 1. 

Following a $68 million renovation of the main, 1982 portion of Terminal 1 in 2014, the north and south ends were decommissioned and closed for use.

What will take the place of these familiar structures? Time will tell. In March of 2017, the areas being demolished will be landscaped and will provide sweeping new views of the airfield.

The next chapter of the airport’s development program rests in the Vision2040 Master Planning project, which is currently underway. On June 1 and 2, several alternative development plans will be shared prior to the completion of the master plan in late 2016.

Do you have a memory of the old Terminal 1? Share in the comments below.


About Andrew Sawyer

Andrew Sawyer is the External Communication Specialist for the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority and is the main writer for RDU’s website, electronic communication and airport publications. He’s also the primary face behind RDU’s social media channels. Andrew also assists with many other things, from media relations to event planning. In fact, he has an advanced degree in "other duties as assigned."
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5 Responses to Saying Goodbye to Terminal 1 North and South

  1. ct says:

    Where will the rotating green/white beacon go?

    • Rob says:

      A new green/white rotating beacon sits atop a dedicated tower southwest of Terminal 1. It is visible from John Brantley Blvd. as you are driving in to the airport.

  2. Brad says:

    Are there any efforts to preserve some of that building’s fixtures/ logos? There was North Carolina Symbol on the floor in one of the main entrances.

    • Rob says:

      The tile mosaic of the Wright Brother’s plane that was on the floor of the old Terminal 1 has been preserved and relocated to the ticketing area of the new Terminal 1.

  3. Anton Wilson says:

    Will miss the old original terminal. As a child back in the early ’50’s my Mom & I used to go out and watch the planes take off and land. Only prop planes back then, no jets. No jet bridges. Will also miss the mosaic in the floor.

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