Pittsburgh’s airport of the future is officially under way. Officials broke ground on a new 700,000 square-foot terminal project, marking Pittsburgh International Airport as the first terminal in the country to be built from the ground up in a post- pandemic world.
Built with a focus on public health and technology, the new facility will incorporate clean air technology, more space for social distancing and 90,000 square feet of outdoor terrace space – both pre- and post-security – to ensure access to fresh air, a rarity for U.S. airports.
The new terminal is designed to modernize the airport, transform the passenger experience, maintain stable airline costs and advance the region’s economy. Additionally, as part of construction, the Airport Authority will implement new industry-leading standards that will break down barriers and increase equal access to opportunities for small businesses, women and people of color.
The new terminal will also be among the most sustainable in the industry as officials are building to LEED-certified silver or beyond. It will be powered by the airport’s microgrid, which is fueled by 10,000 solar panels and five natural gas generators. During construction, a minimum of 75 percent of waste generated will be recycled or reused, including concrete from existing airfield ramps that will be reused for new roads. Additional plans include rainwater harvesting and other water conservation efforts.
To celebrate the occasion, more than 300 guests gathered near the construction site of the new terminal and multi-modal transportation complex that together make up the airport’s $1.4 billion Terminal Modernization Program.
“The new terminal program is a critical infrastructure project for the region and will deliver long-term economic benefits including jobs for more than 5,500 local construction and skilled trades workers,” said Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive. “This is further proof of how our region continues to grow and develop when anchored by a thriving airport that opens the door to the world.”
The Airport Authority expects the project to generate some $2.5 billion in total economic impact as well as 14,500 total direct and indirect jobs. The project will require more than 12,000 tons of steel, 94,000 tons of concrete and more than 354,000 square feet of wood materials, much of which the airport hopes to source locally. It’s among the largest infrastructure projects in the history of the Pittsburgh region.
“As we break ground with the concrete that has been here for decades, we break ground on more than a building; we break ground on the future of travel,” said Christina Cassotis, CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which operates Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County Airport. “Today, we are advancing a new standard for infrastructure projects that benefit our people and our communities first.”
Structural steel for the new terminal will be fabricated locally; lumber and wood materials may also be sourced locally, and workforce diversity goals will be increased across the project.
‘’The new Pittsburgh International Airport will be built for and by the people of this region,” Cassotis said. “This new terminal represents the region’s DNA, and it will mirror Pittsburgh and our many rich cultures.”
Additionally, the airport announced a first-of-its-kind regional partnership with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to proactively reduce construction site hazards and serious injuries, increase sustainability and advance an overall safer, greener construction site.
“Our vision to redefine and transform what an airport can be starts right here on this construction site with our unwavering commitment to safety every day,” said Chief Development Officer Paul Hoback. “We’re building relationships within our community to make the new terminal program the most unique construction project anywhere in the world and the project of choice for workers in our region.”
The new terminal will consolidate operations, including ticketing, security checkpoints and baggage claim, dramatically improving the passenger experience. Specifically, its single terminal design reduces passenger travel time by 50 percent to get from the curb to airside. The multi-modal complex includes a new 3,300-space parking garage, rental car facilities and entrance roadways, all designed to improve the passenger experience.
Key design features, developed by architectural and engineering firms Gensler and HDR in association with luis vidal + architects are centered on elements of nature and sustainability, leading-edge technology, and innovation in the community. The new facilities are scheduled to open in early 2025.