King Abdulaziz International Airport – Hajj Terminal – Structural Engineering

A marvel of design, engineering, and function, the Hajj Terminal was the world’s largest cable-stayed, fabric-roofed structure when it opened in 1981. The facility has two identical roofed halves — each 1,050 feet by 2,250 feet — separated by a landscaped central mall. The visually arresting Teflon-coated fiberglass roof structure consists of 10 modules of 21 semi-conical fabric roof units. Each module is supported by 45-meter-tall steel pylons and further supported with steel cables along the rooftop.

The fiberglass was made of Beta yarn, which is finer than silk but has the strength of steel. A Teflon coating helped the material deflect the heat of the sun’s rays. As a result, the billowy structure allows light to pass through to the floor below but can withstand 1,500 degree temperatures.

Arriving passengers pass through the first half of the terminal, which contains air-conditioned buildings where health and immigration facilities, baggage claim, and customs are housed. The second half is a vast, open-sided temperate waiting and support area where travelers are given rest, water, shade, and food.