Mood board: The regional love behind new PDX designs

Published November 18, 2020

Images of a mood board

Chances are you’ve probably seen the new airport designs, which we recently unveiled to mark the 80th anniversary of the Portland International Airport. 

And you’ve probably heard us mention how we’re taking inspiration from the Pacific Northwest, something you see hints of in the main terminal renderings.

But even the best rendering can’t quite capture the airport’s “PDXiness.” Yes, that’s a cheesy word we made up to describe the sense of pride and local character that we think feels true to PDX.

To show you that, we’re better off sharing our mood board. So we grabbed a few of our favorite visual references to give you a more intimate glimpse into the people, places and passions inspiring what’s next at PDX. 


Image inspiration of a tree

What’s more #PNW than our forests? New airport designs reflect the natural heritage of the Pacific Northwest and our long tradition of craftsmanship. You’ll see it especially in the main terminal’s iconic wooden roof, which will be built with timber sourced sustainably from throughout the region.


Forest trails (Credit: Thomas Shahan)

You’ve probably noticed us using this photo in a few different places ... like here, also here and on temporary construction walls in PDX. (We really like it, OK?) That’s because the new main terminal’s spaces draw on the fresh feeling of walking through our region’s many parks. “The inspiration we really looked to in the beginning was of the place, the natural environment, the unique regions that we live in,” says Sharron van der Meulen, managing partner in the Portland office of ZGF.


Introducing natural elements into our interior spaces can make us feel happier and more at ease — that’s one of the reasons you’ll see subtle nods to our natural environment pop up throughout the new PDX designs.


Musician in the street

It’s the people of Portland who make our neighborhoods sing. That’s true at PDX, too, where artists and musicians will keep bringing the heart and soul for years to come. “People always come up and tell me they’ve had a really stressful time, heard my music and that it really calmed them down,” says singer-songwriter Jordan Richard, one of the dozen-plus talented musicians who volunteer at the airport. “PDX has that mellow, comfortable Portland feeling — that’s why I like it.”



When we’re hard at work designing and building PDX Next projects, we tend to drink our fair share of coffee. What goes better with coffee than doughnuts? Exactly. 



New spaces at PDX mean more opportunities for collaborations with the region’s art scene. “Through my interactions at PDX, I’ve come to understand the openness and eagerness of the staff to collaborate with an array of communities,” says Portland-based artist Renee Zangara. “In particular, the airport’s willingness to engage with the regional art community offers travelers a glimpse into the Northwest’s arts and culture scene.”


Foot selfie

Even when we’ve opened up the more spacious and flexible main terminal, you’ll get a familiar PDX feeling. “I think that’s what’s going to keep this airport unique,” says Gene Sandoval, partner at ZGF. “There will always be a series of spaces that feel intimate — what we perceive to be the scale of Portland, which is so close to our hearts.”