Airport officials unveiled concept designs Feb. 20 for a new landside terminal at the Pittsburgh International Airport — a $1.1 billion overhaul project proposed in 2017.
The bright, airy, two-level design was inspired by Pittsburgh’s rolling topography. It features high ceilings, big windows and lots of greenery and natural light, said Luis Vidal, founder and executive president of Madrid-based luis vidal + architects, the firm primarily responsible for the design.
Other features aim to shorten walking distances and speed up flow through security areas, Vidal said.
San Francisco-based engineering firm Gensler and Omaha-based HDR are contributing to the designs.
Gensler designed the PNC Plaza tower in downtown Pittsburgh, as well as Incheon International Airport in Korea.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he hopes the new terminal will help complement and support the region’s economic growth.
“It has to reflect the growth of what’s starting to happen in Pittsburgh,” Fitzgerald said. “And as we’re seeing tremendous growth in our vitality economically with all the things that are happening in Pittsburgh, we need an airport that also reflects that. Pittsburgh now is a welcoming city. We want an airport to reflect that welcoming nature.”
The new terminal is scheduled to open in 2023, but construction adjacent to the current airside terminal, between concourses C and D, is expected to start this year. Eventually, the new structure will be connected to the existing airside terminal to form one building.
The current landside terminal eventually will be vacated, but decisions about whether it will be re-purposed or demolished have not yet been made.
The airport will not need to close during construction. Passengers could experience some inconveniences, but those issues should be minimal, Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis said.
“This will not feel like changing the tire on a moving car,” she said.
Airport officials will be working with the design firms and architects to firm up more specific plans in the coming months, and a budget is expected to be set by July, Cassotis said.
“The master plan process really just identifies which direction we should go in,” she said.
Details to be hashed out in coming months include: restroom locations, size of concession space and check-in kiosks design.
“All of this has been very much in coordination with the airlines, whose needs have to be considered, and we have to be planning for stuff we can’t even imagine yet,” Cassotis said, adding that the design will be flexible to allow for additional construction.
Though the initial $1.1 billion cost estimate could change, the project will still be paid for through bonds and airline revenue and will not include county taxpayer funds, she said.