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Airport terminal designs submitted
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MONROE - Monroe's Airport Board of Management got its first look at proposed design options for a new terminal Wednesday.

Working previously with airport operator Rob Driver and from a list of needs for the terminal, architects Josh Johnson of Becher-Hoppe, Wausau, and Rob Wheat of Senektekts, Monroe, were able to present four designs for the board to review and consider.

The board determined that having a basement would be preferred, because it would provide additional storage space and a mechanical room and, at about $60 per square foot, would be about one-half to one-third the cost for the space on the ground floor. With a basement, the building would also create a smaller footprint.

The floor plan most discussed at the meeting was about 1,800 square feet, before being cut back to include the basement.

Its most favored aspect was a corner lobby that juts out slightly from the building's main exterior wall to provide a 180-degree southeast view of the airstrip. According to Driver, watching planes is something many people like to do and the space would be well used.

The airport operations and reception area is also on the building's south side, with windows for ready visibility of the fuel pumps and landing strips. Airport management will be able to lock down that area, as well as a smaller backroom for flight preparations computers and the lobby after hours.

Pilots who come in after hours will still have access to the restrooms and pilots' lounge.

The terminal will also include a large room for board or community meetings.

The exterior design and materials are still being determined. The final floor plan could bear heavily on the outside look, said Johnson. The board could also decide the exterior look and alter the floor plan to fit it, he added.

Several board members liked the look of a low building with clerestory, high windows above eye level to bring outside light to the interior of the building.

The board also discussed the benefits of a berm on the north side for protection from winds and weather, because the terminal is situated at the top of a hill. Driver also asked the board to consider not using metal panel exterior walls that would be buffeted by the winds.

"It gets windy up here," he said. Winter winds have been strong enough to drive snow through cracks in the current terminal, he added.

Board members expressed interest in natural stone or limestone for an exterior look.

Johnson and Wheat will return next month with new floor plans and computerized three-dimensional exterior concepts that incorporate the board's comments. Board members will also look at exterior materials at that time.

Michael Gabor, Wisconsin Department of Transportation airport engineering specialist, said the board has until about mid-winter to complete its designing. Bidding on the project will start about February or March, with construction beginning in May 2013.

The terminal project is funded mostly by the federal government, with state and local governments picking up a small share of the costs.

Construction of the terminal has been on the airport's six-year project plans for several years. Airports are required to keep improvement plans by the state aviation board, which uses them to plan its list of projects to fund. The states' lists are used by the federal aviation board to make its funding requests to Congress.

The design work on the terminal will cost about $80,000. The City of Monroe and State of Wisconsin will pay about $4,000 each for the project. The Federal Aviation Administration funds the remaining 90 percent of the project. The construction is also federally funded in the same manner.

The current airport terminal, which is 900 square feet on a cement slab and insulated with vermiculite, was built in 1972.