Tulsa International Airport will look a bit different on many travelers’ next visit.
Officials held a grand reopening Thursday for a $7.5 million renovation of Schwab Hall, the airport’s original entrance.
Schwab Hall is brighter and much more open than it was. Travelers can now see the airfield from the front doors. Tulsa Airports CEO Alexis Higgins said it’s a more welcoming space for Tulsans and visitors.
"All of the design elements that the architect put into this — from the natural lighting to the surfaces that they used to the furniture that we have in place today — it’s all just supposed to reinforce that sense of comfort, that sense of you’re home and you belong here," Higgins said.
Features include a 170-foot skylight that matches the design of ones in the concourses, an entrance to minimize the loss of conditioned air and modern restrooms.
Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust Chairman Joe Robson said they know many Tulsans don’t start their trips from Tulsa International.
"We have a lot of people that have not been starting their destination in Tulsa. They drive to Dallas, they drive to Kansas City, they go to Northwest Arkansas, and a big part of the reason why is we were kind of outdated, we were old, we were dark, we were dingy," Robson said.
Schwab Hall is named for Tulsan Albert Schwab, a Marine private first class posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. He died during the Battle of Okinawa while taking out two machine guns with a flame thrower to protect his company.
More work is set to begin at Tulsa International in January, when airline ticket counters are replaced in a $5.9 million project.