Established in 1923 as an airfield with dirt runways, Long Beach Airport has a rich, 90-year history as California’s oldest municipally owned
airport. Its story has been one of continuous evolution.
In 1941, local architects W. Horace Austin and
Kenneth Wing designed the iconic 24,000-square-
foot Streamline Moderne terminal — now a historic
landmark. As air travel evolved and passenger loads
increased in the decades that followed, the airport
added more than 20 trailers as temporary holdrooms.
Travelers had to wait outside to pass through security,
boarding procedures were unclear, and amenities
In 2005, as the first step to upgrading its passenger
facilities, the airport commissioned architecture firm
HOK and engineering firm CH2M Hill to produce
an environmental impact report (EIR). In 2010, after
working with community leaders to finalize the plans,
the airport began a $45 million modernization project
featuring a new 45,000-square-foot, 11-gate passenger
concourse and updates to the existing grounds.
Restoring the Airport’s Charm
“The airport was born in an era when travel evoked an
air of romance, and we wanted to recall that sentiment
in a contemporary way,” said Ernest Cirangle, design
principal in HOK’s Los Angeles office. “Our design
maintains the historic terminal building’s position as
the crown jewel of the airport.”
The new concourse includes gate-side boarding
lounges, concessions, a security building, a central
meet-and-greet plaza and landscaped courtyards. The
design preserves the terminal as an important part
of the airport’s operations, with the new structures
appropriately scaled behind it.
As the airport’s gateway, the historic terminal houses
many of its original functions, including ticketing and
check-in, a restaurant, and security operations in the
former control tower.
Arriving passengers move through an open air
meet-and-greet plaza to reach the 8,900-square-foot
security checkpoint building. Its open-span steel frame
structure has flexibility to accommodate evolving TSA
requirements. After being screened, passengers cross
LONG BEACH AIRPORT
CONTRIBUTES TO REGIONAL RENAISSANCE
BY BENÉT WILSON
The historic terminal is visible throughout the airport.
Inside the terminal, carpeting was removed to reveal
historic mosaics from the Works Progress Administration era.