Author: Stephen Byrne CENG MIStructE, head of design and contracts, Asset Management & Development, Dublin Airport Authority Late 2010 saw the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) complete a major infrastructural development programme at Dublin Airport that included the construction of a new terminal. The opening of the new Terminal 2 (T2) in November of that year, with its 11.5 million annual passenger capacity, meant that the airport could now handle over 30 million passengers a year. The existing terminal at the airport, now called Terminal 1 (T1), opened in 1972 with an original design capacity of five million passengers –although this was later expanded with a series of construction updates including the development of a new pier, which opened in 2007. With the construction of Terminal 2 – and to accommodate passengers travelling with the carriers operating from the terminal (Aer Lingus, Emirates, Etihad, Delta, United, US Airways and American Airlines) and their 'meeters and greeters' – the airport required short-term customer car-parking capacity adjacent to the new terminal. At the time, the existing public parking capacity was split between short-term parking outside the T1 terminal (with 2,300 spaces) and two long-term facilities on the edge of the airfield (with 19,000 spaces). However, this was not sufficient to meet the expected demand, particularly for short-term parking. [caption id="attachment_13804" align="alignright" width="2592"] The construction of the multi-storey car park[/caption] DAA decided to develop a new 1,300 space multi-storey car park directly in front of T2 on the site of an existing surface car park, which would provide 950 customer parking spaces and 350 forward spaces for car hire to be ready for the opening of T2 in November 2010. The plan included capacity for future expansion, while making allowance for any future impact on parking demand of the planned Metro North service with its underground station at the airport. This project included a number of critical elements:

  • Quick build in a severely constrained heavily trafficked environment;
  • Economical build;
  • Novel contractual scheme;
  • Future-proofed design.

Quick build in demanding environment

The project had to be undertaken in the heart of the airport without undue disruption to airport landside operations including access for taxis, buses/coaches, cars and pedestrians and ongoing T2 works, which were at an advanced stage of completion. The design was developed by DAA and granted planning permission in 2009. A tender competition was undertaken during December 2009 and completed by March 2010. The successful bidder was Bowen Construction Ltd and they moved onto site on April 1, 2010. Levels 1 and 2 of the new car park opened to the public on November 23, 2010 and the top deck opened in February 2011. The construction method adopted was reinforced concrete frame with pre-tensioned deck planks and screed topping with all of the structural elements cast off-site and transported to the airport on a JIT basis. In advance of the appointment of the contractors, DAA undertook significant preparatory works including the demolition of the old car-park exit building and an old boiler house and the infilling of an underground freshwater reservoir. The preparatory works also included the development of a new car-hire base behind the ALSAA sports facility on the airport campus and the relocation of existing car-hire car parks from an area adjacent to the airport church to the new facility. Additional challenges included the winter of 2009, which saw the worst snow event in 50 years. At one stage, following a period of extreme weather, there was more than one metre of fallen snow on the roof of the new car park. This required the erection of marquees on the roof to protect the on-going works. [caption id="attachment_13806" align="alignright" width="2592"] Construction in September 2010[/caption] The car park is 42,000sq metres in floor area – equivalent to three Croke Parks. The car park was delivered at a total cost of €15 million, or €11,538 per space. This was made possible by a combination of the economic downturn with its associated dramatic contraction of the domestic construction industry and the design adopted with the two flat decks above ground level, the construction method and the novel contractual model employed.

Novel contract - DMC

DAA adopted a Design, Manage and Construct contract for this project - only the second time this particular approach was used in Ireland[1]. The contract was based on two approaches:
  • Tenderers pricing what the contractor and DAA could determine at the tender stage; and
  • The elements of the contract on which DAA was unsure about or wished to maintain a strong design control over were dealt with as a ‘managed element’.
For this managed element, the main contractor tendered packages that were pre-agreed with DAA to selected sub-contractors who, in turn, returned their tender proposals to the DAA and were subsequently opened jointly by the DAA and the main contractor. The contractor evaluated the tenders with the DAA retaining the right to acknowledge or reject the recommended award. If DAA accepted the contractor’s award recommendation then the contractor’s pre-agreed (at tender stage) overhead, profit and fees were then added to the cost. This type of contractual process brought clarity and transparency to the process and removed almost all otherwise claims common to traditional contracting practices. The design also included a number of future proofing arrangements:
  • The car park was built with two 40-person passenger lifts installed but with four lift shafts built into the structure;
  • The design of the car park envisaged three additional parking decks to bring the total potential capacity to 2,562 spaces so all structural columns, stairwells, drains, electrics, services were installed with this in mind;
  • An enclosed footbridge to T2 allowed for the future development of a new hotel between the car park and the terminal on a site earmarked for this use.
The new terminal was so successful that the additional passenger lifts had to be installed within 12 months of ‘go live’. DAA is currently examining the operational feasibility of adding extra parking decks to the structure to expand capacity to meet customer demand.


The new car park operates 24/365 and includes:
  • Forty disabled parking bays on Levels 1 and 2 with local intercom facilities connected to the One Complete Solution centre in the terminal, which is dedicated to providing accessibility for people with reduced mobility throughout its facilities at Dublin Airport;
  • 910 standard parking bays on Levels 1 and 2 accessed via ‘D’ ramps;
  • 350 dedicated car hire bays on the ground floor with segregated dedicated access;
  • Two entry and three exit lanes each fitted with licence plate recognition, CCTV lane and driver cameras and digital intercoms linked to the Airport Control Centre;
  • A modern pay-on-foot system including six pay machines, online prebooking and prepayment, season card readers and colour monitors;
  • Large lift and stair lobbies and wide stairs for easy movement between levels;
  • Six car-hire desks at the footbridge level;
  • A sophisticated external and internal wayfinding scheme for both motorists and pedestrians;
  • Environmentally friendly high-spec lighting and natural ventilation on all decks.
Today the car park is operating at or close to capacity. Looking back at this project, it was a remarkable achievement to erect, on such a busy site, a modern multi-storey car park with 900 spaces in eight months and an additional 400 spaces three months later – and all at a total cost that was 25 per cent below the going market rate from the previous year. The key success factors that made this possible were a highly competitive market place when the project went out to tender, the novel contractual approach adopted by DAA, and the commitment of the project team to ensure smooth delivery within the agreed time frame. DAA also launched its consulting services, entitled consult|daa and car parks|daa, in 2011. Since then the consulting start-up has undertaken assignments at a number of airports in the United States, the UK and Greece. consult|daa seeks opportunities to provide other international airports with access to our technical and operational expertise. Driving the new car parking consultancy is Dublin Airport’s revolutionary ‘Revenue Growth Model’, with its emphasis on a commercial approach to growing top-line parking revenues while focusing on improved value and service levels for customers. DAA looks forward to an exciting future for the airport and for these major new initiatives. For more, see: Click below to see a video on the Dublin Airport Terminal 2 car park. Prior to joining DAA, Stephen Byrne was technical director at RPS Group in Dublin following eight years at Prisma Consulting Engineers SA in Athens, where he was department head of infrastructure. Prior to that, he spent eight years as senior structural engineer at Rendel Palmer & Tritton in London. He is a graduate of Imperial College London and also lectures in engineering and design at University College Dublin.
(1) DAA T1X project