Published November 18, 2020
Chances are you’ve probably seen the new airport designs, which we recently unveiled to mark the 80th anniversary of the Portland International Airport.
And you’ve probably heard us mention how we’re taking inspiration from the Pacific Northwest, something you see hints of in the main terminal renderings.
But even the best rendering can’t quite capture the airport’s “PDXiness.” Yes, that’s a cheesy word we made up to describe the sense of pride and local character that we think feels true to PDX.
To show you that, we’re better off sharing our mood board. So we grabbed a few of our favorite visual references to give you a more intimate glimpse into the people, places and passions inspiring what’s next at PDX.
What’s more #PNW than our forests? New airport designs reflect the natural heritage of the Pacific Northwest and our long tradition of craftsmanship. You’ll see it especially in the main terminal’s iconic wooden roof, which will be built with timber sourced sustainably from throughout the region.
(Credit: Thomas Shahan)
You’ve probably noticed us using this photo in a few different places ... like here, also here and on temporary construction walls in PDX. (We really like it, OK?) That’s because the new main terminal’s spaces draw on the fresh feeling of walking through our region’s many parks. “The inspiration we really looked to in the beginning was of the place, the natural environment, the unique regions that we live in,” says Sharron van der Meulen, managing partner in the Portland office of ZGF.
Introducing natural elements into our interior spaces can make us feel happier and more at ease — that’s one of the reasons you’ll see subtle nods to our natural environment pop up throughout the new PDX designs.
It’s the people of Portland who make our neighborhoods sing. That’s true at PDX, too, where artists and musicians will keep bringing the heart and soul for years to come. “People always come up and tell me they’ve had a really stressful time, heard my music and that it really calmed them down,” says singer-songwriter Jordan Richard, one of the dozen-plus talented musicians who volunteer at the airport. “PDX has that mellow, comfortable Portland feeling — that’s why I like it.”
When we’re hard at work designing and building PDX Next projects, we tend to drink our fair share of coffee. What goes better with coffee than doughnuts? Exactly.
New spaces at PDX mean more opportunities for collaborations with the region’s art scene. “Through my interactions at PDX, I’ve come to understand the openness and eagerness of the staff to collaborate with an array of communities,” says Portland-based artist Renee Zangara. “In particular, the airport’s willingness to engage with the regional art community offers travelers a glimpse into the Northwest’s arts and culture scene.”
Even when we’ve opened up the more spacious and flexible main terminal, you’ll get a familiar PDX feeling. “I think that’s what’s going to keep this airport unique,” says Gene Sandoval, partner at ZGF. “There will always be a series of spaces that feel intimate — what we perceive to be the scale of Portland, which is so close to our hearts.”
Here's what this year will look like for PDX (and you!)
For the past year, we've built a nine-acre roof on a prefabrication lot to the northwest of the airport. The construction crews are now installing the last component—an intricate wood lattice, sourced from sustainable Northwest forests, that will eventually cover the interior ceiling.
What you'll see: If you drive along Marine Boulevard, you can glimpse the roof's dramatic swoops in the prefab lot.
Behind all those partitions in the pre-security area, construction crews have been hollowing out the back half of the main terminal. Starting in March, the exterior structure is also coming down to create a more open, spacious footprint. It may get noisy for a few months!
What you'll see: Not much, in fact. But when you’re in the ticket lobby and going through security, you may hear and feel what’s happening on the other side of those partitions. We're strategizing ways to counteract the sound, including free earplugs at the front doors and a sensory room in Concourse D.
Next, we’re erecting 34 giant steel Y-shaped columns to hold up the roof. Right now, construction crews are driving steel pilings deep into the ground to anchor these columns. Over the course of a few months, we’ll erect the Y columns one by one.
What you'll see: You probably won't notice—most are going up overnight behind the temporary walls. Late-night travelers will occasionally have to walk a few yards around an installation site.
Once the biggest section of the wood roof is fully assembled, the project team will break it back down into 20 "cassettes". During the summer and fall, Hoffman-Skanska and Mammoet will maneuver each cassette into place over the existing roof. It will take several days to place each cassette, and the work will happen overnight — depending on the section we’re placing, we may guide late-night travelers around a short detour.
What you'll see: Unless you're flying into PDX on a late-night flight, or camped out on Marine Drive at 2 a.m., you won't see much. If you walk to the ends of Concourse C or Concourse D and look back toward the main terminal, you'll catch a glimpse of the airport's new roofline.
In addition to the big projects, you’ll see a host of new amenities appear throughout the airport. A new play area in Concourse E. New art. New restaurants and cafes. (Lardo! Screen Door! Good Coffee!) You're almost guaranteed to encounter something new every time you visit the airport — and we're not talking barricades.