Interview Danica Hooi and Edwin Westgeest: Bye Dakota’s, hi meeting rooms

By summer 2019, the third floor of Departures 1 will have changed beyond recognition. Two luxurious business class lounges will have taken the place of the self-service restaurant. Dakota’s and Exchange Avenue will have made way for meeting rooms, a public restaurant and the brand-new Schiphol staff restaurant. Project manager Danica Hooi and developer Edwin Westgeest are closely involved in the project.

An exceptional renovation project

Over the next few months, a lot will change at Departures 1. The aim is to create more space and provide more facilities for travellers, airlines and Schiphol staff. Renovations are required on every floor in order to get the departure hall ready for the future and increase the capacity of the existing terminal. The special facilities such as the staff restaurant and conference centres on floor 3 make this an exceptional renovation project. Edwin says, ‘This is not something we do five times a year, but that makes it even more interesting. It’s more of a challenge to make it a success.’

From a basic shell to the finishing touches

While Danica coordinates the completion of the rooms in shell state, Edwin works on the layout and the finishing. He works together with business partner HMSHost, the party that will be using the various new facilities. ‘Together, we make sure that all the wishes and requirements are met.’ Edwin gives an example: ‘If HMSHost wants the dishwashing area in the back left-hand corner of a room, then we at Schiphol do our absolute best to make sure that happens. After all, they are the experts.’ ‘We also need to bear that in mind when working on the shell,’ Danica adds, ‘as we need to place the piping, drain and cables accordingly.’

Not out of use for long

Nearly all the rooms on the third floor have been closed or demolished. Dakota’s is closed, tonnes of steel have been lifted onto the roof for the new staff restaurant, and the business class lounges for Swissport and Star Alliance are being constructed. Danica states, ‘We don’t want these spaces to be out of use for too long, so the schedule for all the demolition and construction work is tight.’

Rapid tempo

To say the schedule is tight is an understatement. ‘We feel as though we are overtaking a high-speed train,’ says Edwin. ‘The design has not even been completed, but we’re already clearing and renovating 3,000 square metres of space at a rapid tempo, to make more room as quickly as possible. And at the same time, we want to make everything as good as possible for our stakeholders.’ Danica concludes, ‘It’s a challenge, but we are all enjoying working on it together.’