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Design Contenders Chosen for PIT Terminal

Monday, April 30, 2018

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The Allegheny County Airport Authority has narrowed down the design firm candidates that are in the running for the Pittsburgh International Airport’s billion-dollar facelift.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Friday (April 27) that the authority has not only narrowed down the design list, but has also pinned down a unique design element.

Decisions

The authority announced that for the estimated $784 million worth of terminal changes to PIT, teams from AECOM, Corgan and Michael Baker, Gensler and HDR, and Luis Vidal + Architects/CannonDesign are still in the running.

Images courtesy of the Allegheny County Airport Authority

The Allegheny County Airport Authority has narrowed down the design firm candidates that are in the running for the Pittsburgh International Airport’s billion-dollar facelift.

The authority has reportedly accelerated the pace of the $1.1 billion project’s planning phase, hoping to hire an architectural and engineering team this summer instead of this fall, in order to give them more time to work on the design, according to CEO Christina Cassotis. This doesn’t change then timeline for the total project completion, however, which remains set at 2023.

The PG also reported that Cassotis has backed the idea of including a sensory room in the new PIT. The idea was initially floated by Jason Rudge, a heavy equipment operator in the authority’s field maintenance department, in November, and was soon supported by Cassotis.

If it comes to fruition, PIT would become the third airport in the world to have a sensory room (the others are in Ireland and Atlanta); it would include features such as special lighting, swings and textured surfaces designed to have a calming effect. While traditionally used to benefit those on the autism spectrum, Cassotis and Rudge stress that such a room would be a benefit to everyone who uses the airport.

“When children are calmed down and they’re ready to board the plane, that’s a better experience for everybody, including the family that is traveling with them,” Cassotis said. “It can be so stressful when you’re worried about that impact on the entire plane and everybody else on that plane.”

The Master Plan

The authority announced the project, which includes a new landside terminal, new roads, and a new building for baggage and security, in September.

The current facility, which cost around $900 million to construct, opened in 1992 and was built as a hub for the now-defunct US Airways. At that time, the airport saw as many as 38 million passengers a year. It has steadily decreased since then, however, and current numbers indicate right around 8 million annual passengers.

While the authority looked at a few different directions to update the airport—officials had been working on this for more than two years—building a new landside terminal was actually the cheapest option, according to Cassotis.

The current layout features massive landside terminal equipped with elevators, escalators and a tram system that, nearing 30 years old, are approaching costly repairs. The tram itself (an underground train that shuttles people from landside to airside) costs $3 million a year to operate, according Pittsburgh’s CBS affiliate.

The new terminal will be built in between the C and D concourses and attach to the current airside terminal, which will be updated. This will put everything basically on one level, eliminating most escalators and the tram. The “dogleg” ends of the A and B concourses will also be eliminated, leaving the number of gates open at 51, about a dozen more than what’s used today, allowing some leeway for potential growth. There is no official word on what will happen to the current landside terminal, though the authority has confirmed that it has set aside the necessary funds to demolish the structure.

The new, smaller facility is estimated to save $23 million a year in operation and maintenance costs. In addition, Cassotis said the cost per passenger would fall from an average of $12.69 to $9.73.

The new terminal will be built in between the C and D concourses and attach to the current airside terminal, which will be updated. This will put everything basically on one level, eliminating most escalators and the tram. The “dogleg” ends of the A and B concourses will also be eliminated, leaving the number of gates open at 51, about a dozen more than what’s used today, allowing some leeway for potential growth.

“It’s a win-win situation for everybody,” said Airport Authority Chairman David Minnotte at the time of the announcement. “The costs are lower for the airlines, the airport gets a new facility, that will be very efficient and modern. And, finally, this is most important for me, the people of Pittsburgh finally get an airport that is built for them, and not US Air.”

The new terminal comes with an estimated price tag of $783.8 million, in addition to the new parking garage ($258.8 million) and new roads ($57.1 million). The project will be paid for by the airlines, bonds, grants, and revenue from Marcellus shale gas drilling, parking and airport shops.

Officials estimate that more than 6,000 temporary design and construction jobs will be created, along with 4,500 “spin-off” jobs to support the purchases of supplies and services as well as spending wages earned by the workers.

   

Tagged categories: Airports; Design; Good Technical Practice; North America; Terminals; Transportation

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