Love Field Modernization

From Landing Strip to Landmark

Dallas, Texas

Love Field in Dallas has come a long way since it was established by the U.S. Army on October 19, 1917.

Love Field Greets the 21st Century

Commissioned during World War I, when the top speed of even the fastest aircraft barely exceeded 100 MPH, and the airport was little more than a grass landing strip. After more than 85 years in service, Love Field was designated as a Texas State Historical Site in 2003. Like all landmarks, it has a rich history and quite a few interesting facts surrounding it, all worthy of mention by any tour guide.

Hensel Phelps is proud to have played a part in the airport’s recent history, as we near completion of the Love Field Modernization, in which the airport will be extensively renovated and expanded. When we have the chance to work on a famous site like Love Field, we like to know a little bit about how it earned its reputation.

Lieutenant Love, President Johnson, and the History of Aviation

  • Love Field was named in honor of First Lieutenant Moss Lee Love, 11th Cavalry, who was killed on September 4, 1913, while flying a Burgess Type J biplane at North Island, San Diego, California. He was practicing for his Military Aviator Test.
  • It was at Love Field that Texan Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of office on Air Force One following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. The city plans to place a historical marker at the exact spot where the new president was sworn in.
  • The airport is home to the Frontiers of Flight Museum, which contains over 30 aircraft and display galleries.
  • As part of the Wright Amendment of 1979, Love Field cannot be marketed or advertised in any way; it’s become famous on the strength of its own merits.


The Modernization Project

  • In a nod to the airport’s history, the Dallas Historical Society made sure Hensel Phelps retained the lobby’s Terrazzo World Map, which shows the world as it was in 1959, featuring many countries that, of course, no longer exist.
  • The renovated airport is home to an extraordinary mosaic mural by Texas artist Dixie Friend Gay.
  • The piece is a landscape depicting a Dallas sunrise above Texas plant life and wildflowers, and is built from over half million hand-cut, hand-painted tiles.
  • The installation measures 64 feet wide and 18 feet high.
  • A new Cell Phone Lot, with 45 parking spots, was created for those who are waiting to pick up passengers. It’s an unusual name for a waiting area, but it means no more circling!
  • Like many other major airport building projects, Hensel Phelps performed much of our work at night. This was to ensure that construction did not interfere with ongoing airport operations.


Our Keys to Success

Hensel Phelps team, led by Project Manager Michael Orlowski, worked closely with the City of Dallas and Southwest Airlines to ensure that airport operations were always the priority, and that construction never interfered with any operations of the fully functioning airport. “The details of our daily schedule and the location of our staff were communicated constantly to all airport operations personnel,” Orlowski says. “Knowing how important it is to always be flexible, we worked to make the needs of the airport a priority in a number of ways.”

LEED Certification

The Love Field Modernization is targeted for LEED Silver certification, with enough credits anticipated to achieve a LEED Gold certification. The design presents tall ceilings and curtain wall, to provide an abundance of natural light. The design also uses sustainable white roofing to minimize the “heat island effect,” in which parts of a structure may become warmer than others.

Project Summary

In March 2009, Southwest Airlines selected Hensel Phelps to oversee the Love Field construction. Hensel Phelps is responsible for modernizing Love Field in preparation for the anticipated passenger increase that will result when portions of the Wright Amendment expire in 2014. 

Project Highlights
  • Active Operational Airport
  • Phased, Multi-Year Program
  • Terminal Renovation
  • New Concourse
  • Construction within Operating Airport
  • Extensive Sitework
Project Roles

Share Project

Related Projects

Marriott Renaissance Providence

The historic Masonic Temple Building was converted to a 274-room Marriott Renaissance Hotel.

Learn More

Lane Field North (BRIC Phase I) – Development Group

Hensel Phelps Development, as part of a larger long-term waterfront hotel masterplan and through a long-term ground lease with the Unified Port of San Diego, has co-developed the first of two projects in the BRIC development which stands for Broadway and Pacific in the North Embarcadero.

Learn More