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Rental Car Center at PHX Sky Harbor International Airport

Simplified rental car operations enhance customer experience.
  • PHX Rental Car Center-Gannett Fleming

    Stage 2 of the PHX Sky Train® project will extend service to the new Rental Car Center.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport


Phoenix, Arizona

Our Role

200,000-square-foot building with a surrounding 6,000 car, three-level parking deck
Construction Cost
$160 million
New Construction
  • The new facility eliminated the need for individual rental car company buses at the terminal curb, enhancing efficiency for visitors
  • Spacious Rental Car Center accommodates all airport rental car companies, rental car counters, and vehicles
  • A 6,000 car, three-level parking deck for rental vehicles surrounds the building.

One of the 10 busiest airports in the U.S., more than one million rental car transactions are processed every year at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). The existing rental car facilities were adding to inefficiencies and traffic congestion for airport customers.

As part of PHX’s overall plan to enhance ground transportation, customers now take a designated Rental Car Center bus for a five minute ride to the new rental facility. Customers are dropped off at the customer service level of the building, where all rental car counters are located side by side. Customers return their rental cars to the same location. The new facility vacated 1,600 parking spaces previously used by rental car companies at the terminal.

As part of Stage 2 construction of the PHX Sky Train project, this facility will be connected to both the PHX Sky Train and the Valley Metro Light Rail for easy passenger transportation.

What We Did

Nabar Stanley Brown (NSB), now part of Gannett Fleming, was challenged to design a structure that would address the owner’s needs for high levels of customer service, comfort, appearance, and cost.

Core to the project was the semi-circular shape of the new customer service building to provide easy walking distance to all rental car companies. Immediately below the building, the parking garage levels required an open and flexible format to accommodate rental company requirements.

The concept required a consistent 61-foot column grid in each direction. No columns were allowed in the parking areas that were “off grid”. This grid spacing is two to three times the industry standard. NSB was then challenged to design a round building on top of a square column grid. This was accomplished with a series of transfer girders on the Customer Service Level. The roof over the Customer Service Level has large spans of open space, normal wide flange steel members were not large enough to support the required roof loads. NSB designed a series of plate girders and trusses that provided gravity and lateral support to the building. In addition, NSB worked with the design team to select roof materials to minimize the noise inside the building from the constant aircraft traffic overhead.

Key Features

  • Re-allocated valuable terminal space and close-in parking to benefit airline operations and the traveling public.

Sustainability Features & Outcomes

  • Reduced roadway congestion as a result of eliminating rental vehicles driving to and from the terminals and applying one common-use bus
  • A 5.4-megawatt, high-efficiency solar power system generates more than 50 percent of the electricity needed for the facility.

Awards & Recognition

  • Judges Choice Award, 2006, American Council of Engineering Companies of Arizona, Engineering Excellence Awards
  • Grand Award, 2006, American Council of Engineering Companies of Arizona, Engineering Excellence Awards.

Similar Projects: Transportation: Airports, Facilities: Structural