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PDX Turns 80; Shares Early Look at New Airport Design

The Port of Portland is well underway with several projects intended to update and upgrade the Portland International Airport, so it continues to serve the region for decades to come. And, on this day – PDX’s 80th Anniversary – it feels fitting to share a peek at some early architectural renderings of the largest of these projects: the airport’s new main terminal.

“We’re taking the airport that has served the region well for the past 80 years and updating and upgrading it,” said Chief Projects Officer Vince Granato. “While the space will look and feel different, we are keeping the heart and soul of the airport that Portlanders know and love – easy to navigate; bright, open spaces; and local shops and restaurants – it will still feel like home.”

The Port’s goals with the design of the new terminal include a focus on health, wellbeing and safety for all visitors and travelers. The new terminal's nature-infused interiors, earthquake-resilient structure and expanded spaces give PDX the flexibility to adapt to new technologies and welcome the growing number of passengers expected in the coming decades.

The region’s landscapes are key inspirations for ZGF, the architects working on the new main terminal. “The roof design was inspired by the forests of the Pacific Northwest and the feeling you get while walking through the woods, the experience of light filtering through the trees, and the protection of the tree canopy,” said Sharron van der Meulen, ZGF partner and lead interior designer for the project.

With forests covering nearly half the state of Oregon, the Cascades stretching north and south and a sweeping coastline, nature is everywhere. Architects are bringing elements of the great outdoors to PDX as evidenced by the most prominent design feature: the regionally and sustainably sourced wooden roof with skylights that will stretch across the expanded lobby and ticket areas. In addition, the interior spaces will incorporate more greenery and living plants.

Much of the design for the new main terminal takes inspiration from the human-friendly scale of Portland’s city blocks and favorite neighborhoods. Expect to see independent storefronts clustered together along a tree-lined “street” and cafe seating spilling out onto “sidewalks”.

Along with having the new main terminal design inspired by enjoyable spaces in the region, the people building the airport reflect the diversity of our region. The Port is committed to supporting small- and minority-owned businesses and being a good environmental steward. The project will be tracking goals and targets specific to small-business involvement and aims to provide 20% of hard construction costs to certified firms. And, while the new main terminal will give travelers more space, it will come with an important reduction: when complete, PDX will use 50% less energy per square foot while doubling the size of the building.

From start to finish, constructing the new main terminal and welcoming passengers into the new space will take about five years. Investments in PDX now mean the airport will have healthy, resilient and adaptable spaces to better serve passengers, airport employees and the community as travel demand returns.

Quick Facts

The new main terminal for PDX is one of five major projects that falls under the umbrella of the airport’s capital improvement program – PDX Next.

New Main Terminal


$1.5 billion

Expected Completion:

Spring 2025

Additional Sq. Footage:

Approximately 175,000 sq. ft.

New concession spaces:


Bragging Rights:

In addition to the five new spaces recently commissioned for artwork throughout the airport, the new main terminal will create more space for public art.

Upcoming Milestone:

Raising the roof, new roof installation of main terminal begins in  2022


The other projects under the PDX Next program include the recently opened Concourse E, a new Concourse B set to open in Fall 2021, parking additions and a new rental car center also opening in Fall 2021, and the rental car wash and fuel center which opened in March 2018.

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