Jackson Hole Airport, a wooden structure, is at home with the mountains

Text: Carney Logan Burke Architects/ Images: Matthew Millman


People fly into Jackson Hole, Wyoming, all year round to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. In summer they hike down the heritage slopes, in winter they ski. It is the only airport in the United States situated in a National Park.

In conceptualising its design, the airport had to reflect its mountain environment and western heritage. It also had to be environmentally responsible. Grand Teton National Park also has strict boundary limitations and an 18’ height limit—a challenging framework for design. Incorporating wood was an important part to achieving these goals.

The smallness of mankind is immediately evident against the mountains’ overwhelming magnificence.

In the Ticketing Hall 24” diameter FSC-certified Douglas fir columns anchor the space. The columns are turned smooth in a refined modern manner in lieu of a conventional rustic appearance. Expansive glulam beams dramatically span across the hall and interface with the columns via intricately detailed steel connections. Due to height restrictions, a queen post truss system was integrated with the glulam beams to reduce their depth and bulk, thus maximising the terminal’s spaciousness. The rhythm and clarity of the structural system is on display as it marches over 250’ within the terminal, culminating with the dramatic 17’ exterior overhang.

FSC-certified Douglas fir columns and hemlock ceiling define the ticketing hall

Steel connections secure the wooden elements in place 

The ceiling and the underside of the exterior overhangs use 1 x 4 hemlock. The species was selected for its subtle grain and light, yet rich coloration that complements the golden glulam beams. The hemlock ceiling boards are spaced intermittently to add acoustical value to the terminal that is primarily hard surfaces of glass, concrete, wood and steel. Reclaimed weathered snow fence was used extensively in the millwork and as a wainscot. The weathered grey appearance offers a nod to the past and is a nice contrast to the new warm wood structure and ceiling. Glulam beams from the original demolished building were repurposed into large-scale exterior and interior benches.

The terminal expansion was completed in 2010 and achieved USGBC LEED Silver certification.

This article was first published in Wood in Architecture Issue 1/2018