As one of the fastest growing airports in North America, Nashville International Airport (BNA Vision officially) is in the midst of a major renovation that will expand operating capacity, add more national destinations, and provide direct international travel destinations. Nearly 18.3 million passengers flew in and out of Nashville Airport in 2019, marking the seventh consecutive year of record-breaking growth.

The Project 

Balco was selected as the manufacturer for the complex seismic joint covers and fire barriers for the Nashville Airport project expansion for North Terminal, Terminal D, and North and South Service Animal areas referred to as N SARA and S SARA. Balco is also the Basis of Design, currently in progress and slated for completion in 2023.

The complexity of this project originated from the fact that it is an expansion of an ongoing operational airport with the majority of construction, including North Terminal, N SARA and S SARA, directly adjacent to critical operations like passenger terminals, baggage claim areas, elevators and restrooms. 

In addition to the expansion of the existing terminal, a brand-new structure is being constructed for international flights (Terminal D), which will be adjacent to the existing main concourse.

Upgrading the Existing Structure 

Building codes have changed since the original terminal was constructed decades ago, therefore upgrades to the existing structure are required in order to provide proper fire protection at the seismic joint locations. This also impacts existing high-traffic areas like baggage claim and restrooms, which must be temporarily closed to provide a safe and clean environment during the renovation. 

Airport security requirements must also be adhered to when working on the project which introduced another level of complexity. Material deliveries to an existing airport can be a challenge due to the tight security requirements of the TSA. Deliveries must be coordinated on a specific time and location delivery schedule that is monitored and approved by the general contractor, Hensel Phelps, in coordination with the manufacturer and the material installer, Sorella Group.


The manufacturer provided continuous fire-rated barriers where fire protection upgrades were made at existing seismic joint locations. In addition, the flush mounted wall and ceiling expansion joint covers were successfully installed in high traffic areas of baggage claims and restrooms with minimal disruption to service.

In Terminal D, which is new construction, the FCC wall to soffit and ceiling expansion joint covers match surrounding finish materials for a clean, uniform look.

Overall, innovative solutions were applied to several areas of the building requiring both form and function to create a life safety environment that blended with the surrounding construction. Balco was able to maximize the required seismic movement of the seismic assemblies while creating a consistent sightline across all construction elements for walls, ceilings and soffits. The visible components are clean and sleek while the mechanical components, which are strategically hidden, ensure proper function and life safety. 

The manufacturer has been involved in the design, manufacturing and installation inspection from the beginning of construction and will continue to do so until the successful completion of the project. Aside from installation of quality products and expert craftsmanship, perhaps the most important key to the success of the Nashville International Airport renovation is the continuation of open communication between the project’s partners.