From the First to the Last Stone
At the Heart of Terminal 3

The First Stone in the Wall

The cornerstone ceremony took place at the Terminal 3 construction site on April 29, 2019 with about 700 invited guests. The stone contains a time capsule that was blessed by representatives of the three main Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Along with recent issues of major regional newspapers, it also holds a bottle of wine made from grapes grown in the German state of Hesse and a list of all of the individuals who had so far been involved in this major construction project. There is also a hard disk with digital copies of the project plans. All of this will ensure that important information on the construction of Terminal 3 is preserved for posterity.

What looks at first glance like a “find the hidden objects” game shows the ongoing construction work in the area of the main terminal building. When this photograph was taken, the work had progressed to varying degrees in different areas.

About 1,600 tonnes of sand and gravel were delivered for the concreting work at the main terminal building.

Concrete mixers standing ready for cast-in-place concreting work at the construction site.

Piece by piece, floor slabs up to 2.5 meters thick are created on a total area of 65,000 square meters at the site of the main terminal building.

Not only “conventional” cranes are involved in building the above-ground parts of the main terminal building in the south of Frankfurt Airport, but also mobile cranes.

The retaining walls that have surrounded and stabilized the pits are no longer needed as work to make the carcass progresses. They are therefore pulled out and stored for reuse at other construction sites.

Tall cranes deployed at the main terminal building temporarily define the airport’s southern skyline.

In the shadow of the apron control tower looming overhead, the main terminal building climbs steadily higher.

The final interior design is characterized by concrete pillars with a natural stone look.

The interior is also taking shape. The characteristic mushroom-head pillars of the baggage claim are already in place.

The supports for the marketplace’s ceiling are precisely positioned.

“Frankfurt Airport is already an international leader in terms of connectivity. No other aviation hub rivals Frankfurt in terms of the number of destinations that passengers can reach from here, whether they are business travelers or tourists. Terminal 3 is making Germany’s gateway to the world even better.” (Dr. Stefan Schulte)

Growing Upward

The first underground level takes shape as construction workers place steel reinforcement bars (“rebars”) on the floor slab. Their height varies from section to section as required by the plans. The areas along the edges of the northern part of the building (underneath the marketplace) will be full of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment. In the middle, quite a bit of space will be needed for the baggage conveyor system: instead of an intermediate ceiling, there will be a single tall underground level. After placing the rebars and formwork, the construction workers pour the concrete. An entire row of concrete mixers is set up for this. It’s vital to avoid interruptions while pouring each section to ensure good quality. After the foundation has cured, work to build the walls starts.

Topping It Off

As soon as the walls are standing all the way around and the concrete has cured, the empty spaces between them and the retaining walls can be filled in with earth extracted while digging the pit at the start. The construction workers use a vibrating tamper to additionally compact the earth and sand.

One thing is still missing: the ceiling. Closely spaced formwork posts are used to push the formwork for the ceiling upward to the desired height. They penetrate the slightly protruding reinforcement of the walls to form a unit. Concrete can then be poured in. After it has cured, this level’s carcass is complete.

Everything Tight?!

The first milestone in erecting the building’s carcass was reached in mid-2020. At that point, after placing 145,000 cubic meters of concrete and 20,000 tonnes of rebars, the groundwater retention measures were no longer needed.

While construction of the carcass for the above-ground levels proceeds, work to install equipment gets underway down below. The pace quickens at the site of one of Europe’s largest privately funded infrastructure projects.

The Building Takes on Form

Visible progress is made on the carcass, on both the outside and the inside. The marketplace spanning 12,200 square meters starts taking shape. Installing its custom-made ceiling with drop-shaped structures poses special challenges. To provide a sturdy base, a 128-meter-tall crawler crane precisely places 20 massive supports, each of which weighs 25 tonnes.

Related Topics: Main Building