Spanish firm luis vidal + architects (LVA) has partnered with Gensler to design an addition to the Pittsburgh International Airport in western Pennsylvania. Initial renderings released Wednesday of the $1.1 billion project showcase the new terminal set to open in 2023.
According to the architects, the design combines nature, technology, and community (a philosophy branded by the airport as NaTeCo) as a nod to Pittsburgh’s location, its local residents, and their commitment to innovation. The design team studied the city’s landscape to come up with a vision that evokes its iconic rolling hills and the rivers that run through it. The new terminal, built between Concourses C and D, will feature an undulating roof, designed to bring pockets of light into the public spaces below. Warm timber and ample plantings will be used throughout the interior as a nod to the region’s natural surroundings.
“The combination of nature, technology, and community form the DNA of the region,” said Luis Vidal, “and that should be reflected in the structure of the building to enhance the experience for all users and leave a memorable impression.”
In an interview with the airport’s news service, Blue Sky PIT, Vidal noted his initial trips to the city helped him understand how these physical elements could be integrated to create an adaptable design for the 21st-century that was truly Pittsburgh-centric.
“When you look at Pittsburgh, you can see it has a very strong heritage and that it has undergone a huge transformation to embrace a diversification of industries, including medicine, education, technology, and robotics,” he said. “Those elements of nature, technology, and community grabbed me during a number of visits and very quickly, I understood that it was the DNA of the region.”
Vidal and Gensler’s concept centers around a new, 51-gate terminal that will include a modern check-in concourse, an expanded TSA checkpoint, as well as indoor and outdoor green plazas and gathering spaces. The design will help improve wayfinding and circulation from the departing and arrival zones, while also decreasing walking distances between those areas. HDR, an engineering consultancy based out of Omaha, Nebraska, will help plan for future technological advancements within the airport and seek room for new automated systems. Gensler’s Principal and Aviation Leader Ty Osbaugh said the first set of renderings are the result of a huge community engagement process, which will continue through the schematic design phase.
“We have worked very hard, and will continue working to further refine this concept that draws on the best features of the region,” Osbaugh said. “This concept allows for a more modern, adaptable facility that will truly reflect and belong to Pittsburgh.”
This isn’t the first major upgrade the Pittsburgh International Aiport has received. In 1992, a billion-dollar expansion by architect Tasso Katselas Associates received widespread praise, particularly for the addition of the airport’s then-new Airside Terminal. The large space featured an arched ceiling and ample room dedicated to a shopping district known as the Airmall. That design helped simplify aircraft movement and eased pedestrian traffic, later becoming a global model for efficient aviation architecture.
LVA and Gensler hope to build on the Airside Terminal’s legacy by building a modern structure that consolidates the airport’s landside and airside operations into one place. The project, with its sweeping design and light-filled interior, evokes Vidal’s award-winning 2014 design of Terminal 2 at London’s Heathrow Airport.