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Designs Released for $1.1B PA Airport Project

Friday, February 22, 2019

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Earlier this week the Allegheny County Airport Authority Board of Directors approved a concept design for the estimated $1.1 billion overhaul of Pittsburgh International Airport.

The design for the “Terminal Modernization Program at Pittsburgh International Airport” was unveiled to the public on Feb. 20 by the design team joint venture of architectural and engineering firms Gensler and HDR association with luis vidal + architects.

“This is a facility that truly reflects the growing Pittsburgh region and the renaissance that is ongoing here, including at the airport,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Images: Allegheny County Airport Authority

Earlier this week the Allegheny County Airport Authority Board of Directors approved a concept design for the estimated $1.1 billion overhaul of Pittsburgh International Airport.

“The story of this airport is really a story about moving our region forward—about creating new jobs, retaining ones that are already here and maximizing our assets for the highest and best use for our citizens without saddling local taxpayers with the bill.”

Some Background

The authority announced the project, which includes a new landside terminal, new roads and a new building for baggage and security, in September 2017.

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 Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis.

The current layout features a 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 authority announced the project, which includes a new landside terminal, new roads and a new building for baggage and security, in September 2017.

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 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.

The Design

In July, the Gensler-HDR JV, along with the luis vandal firm, were hired for the design, and on Wednesday, officials said that they pulled from “the rolling hills and rivers, neighborhoods and communities and new economic diversity that has led to Pittsburgh’s re-emergence over the past few decades.”

Based on the idea of combining nature, philosophy and community, the design features high ceilings and large windows, which will equip the facility with greenery and natural light.

In July the Gensler-HDR JV, along with the luis vandal firm, were hired for the design, and on Wednesday, officials said that they pulled from “the rolling hills and rivers, neighborhoods and communities and new economic diversity that has led to Pittsburgh’s re-emergence over the past few decades.”

“This new terminal, inspired by the beauty, tech renaissance and people of our region will integrate seamlessly into the great design of the existing Airside Terminal,” said Cassotis.

“In considering this design, we looked at function first, then form, to construct a building that will be both iconic, practical and affordable and that can be easily adapted as the technology and transportation needs of our community change.”

While subject to change, the concept design currently includes:

  • Separate levels for departing and arriving passengers and a non-public level for building systems such as baggage belts;
  • Additional space for an expanded TSA checkpoint;
  • Shorter walking distances for arriving and departing domestic and international passengers;
  • Indoor and outdoor green plazas and gathering spaces;
  • Additional space for concessions, artwork and other amenities;
  • Planning for technological improvements and more automated systems; and
  • Emphasis on sustainability.

The next phase—schematic design—is slated to run through the summer and construction is supposed to start later this year.

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; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; Renovation; Terminals; Upcoming projects

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