PDX has reigned as America’s Best Airport for nearly a decade, recently dropping to #2 in 2020, just under the Indiana International Airport. However, Portland hopes to regain the title with the expansion of the PDX main terminal, designed by ZGF Architecture Firm. The project, intended to improve upon the flow and function of the terminal space, has been underway since mid-2020 and is expected to be complete by 2025. Here are the recent developments and highlights of the sustainable and stunning ZGF expansion.
Port Of Portland — Airport Main Terminal Expansion
The expansion of the main terminal will be one of five major capital improvement projects by the Port of Portland. These projects aim to “bring more Pacific Northwest-inspired architecture, local [businesses], inclusive design, and carbon footprint-reducing technology” to the city. Currently, the PDX airport accommodates 35 million travelers annually. The expansion of the main terminal will double the square footage, all while celebrating the beauty of the Pacific Northwest through contemporary design and sustainable building materials.
Upon entering the new terminal core, visitors are invited to take a walk in the forest. Views of the airfield, daylight, interior landscape, and art recalling the region’s natural beauty are present throughout the passenger journey.
A stunning wood roof greets visitors upon arrival and celebrates the state’s history of forest product innovation with wood locally sourced from landowners and mills within a 600-mile radius. The undulating mass plywood and glulam canopy are penetrated by skylights under 34 Y-shaped columns which hold the 18-million-lb, 380,000-sq-ft roof in place. Paying homage to the sense of place, the regionally and sustainably sourced timber that forms the basis of the roof can be traced back to its forest of origin, honoring the small families, Pacific Northwest tribes, and other landowners that contributed to its creation. — ZGF, Keeping the Heart and Soul of America’s Best Airport
Sustainability and Safety for Generations!
Every aspect of this project was curated to be as sustainable, efficient, safe, and culturally thoughtful as possible. The striking lattice roof of the main terminal will be crafted from 2.5 million feet of regionally, sustainably sourced timber. Oval skylights filtering through the wooden latticework evoke the feeling of sunlight through forest branches. Port of Portland announced that the mass timber used for the PDX airport project was sourced from Northwest tribes and local landowners who are committed to sustainable forest health.
The mass timber roof was processed and assembled offsite, expediting construction with little waste. Mass timber building is rising in popularity throughout Portland as an affordable, eco-friendly production option for construction. This project is one of many Port of Portland “Building Back Better” initiatives supporting sustainable building practices, the Oregon timber industry, forest restoration efforts, and prioritizing entrepreneurial opportunities for POC in Oregon.
The terminal is also designed to move up to 24 inches in any direction in response to seismic events. The hinged connections between slabs will minimize damage caused by an earthquake. Additionally, “a tight envelope, passive heating and cooling systems, and the incorporation of natural daylight all provide for passive survivability after being disconnected from the power grid.” Incredible!
“We’re taking the airport that has served the region well for the past 80 years and updating and upgrading it. While the space will look and feel different, we are keeping the heart and soul of the airport that Portlanders know and love—easy to navigate; bright, open spaces; and local shops and restaurants—it will still feel like home.” — Vince Granato, Chief Project’s Officer