Published July 10, 2020
“Sustainability” may sound like a vague buzzword. But in the new Concourse E extension, this value comes to life in very real ways. That’s thanks in large part to the advocacy of Pooja Kashyap, an architect at Hennebery Eddy. Over the past few years, she’s championed healthy, sustainable design solutions at PDX. Here’s what she has to say about her experience working on the project.
Pooja wants you to feel relaxed the next time you fly. “I get really excited to work on spaces that will be used by lots of people and touch lots of lives. Airports, in particular, can be really stressful environments for passengers and so I was really excited about the ability for sustainable design features like daylight, views and natural materials to help make people feel more comfortable.”
Good design takes collaboration. And it’s not always easy. “One hard part about this job: When you’re working on a project of this scale, there are a lot of opinions. They come from all sides — from the client, contractors, consultants and designers. And they’re all valid perspectives. The hardest part is finding a design solution that addresses everyone’s concerns. In the end, it creates a better project, much better than if just one person was designing in a bubble.”
She’s helping PDX go for gold. “What makes me proud to be on this project is that it’s on track to meet LEED Gold, which is not an easy achievement for an airport. I’m proud of myself for successfully championing sustainability on this project. And I’m proud of the whole team for working together to design something that’s environmentally responsible, resilient and comfortable.”
Pacific Northwest vibes fill the new concourse. “The parts of Concourse E that I’m most excited for the public to see are the huge windows and the column-free spaces. It is going to be unlike any other gate that you’ve ever waited for a plane in. Because of its high ceilings and the lack of columns, there are amazing views of the Columbia River, of Mt. Hood. It’s such an open, inviting space to be in.”
Working through the pandemic has her refocusing on what matters. “Overall, I’m just encouraged by everyone’s spirit to keep moving forward and keep looking to the future — using this time to spend with your family and assess what’s really important to you. I’m so inspired by the demonstrations all over the world fighting for social justice. As someone who has been fighting against climate change for so long, seeing people working to create real, systemic change shows what we can accomplish when we come together.”
Here's what this year will look like for PDX (and you!)
For the past year, we've built a nine-acre roof on a prefabrication lot to the northwest of the airport. The construction crews are now installing the last component—an intricate wood lattice, sourced from sustainable Northwest forests, that will eventually cover the interior ceiling.
What you'll see: If you drive along Marine Boulevard, you can glimpse the roof's dramatic swoops in the prefab lot.
Behind all those partitions in the pre-security area, construction crews have been hollowing out the back half of the main terminal. Starting in March, the exterior structure is also coming down to create a more open, spacious footprint. It may get noisy for a few months!
What you'll see: Not much, in fact. But when you’re in the ticket lobby and going through security, you may hear and feel what’s happening on the other side of those partitions. We're strategizing ways to counteract the sound, including free earplugs at the front doors and a sensory room in Concourse D.
Next, we’re erecting 34 giant steel Y-shaped columns to hold up the roof. Right now, construction crews are driving steel pilings deep into the ground to anchor these columns. Over the course of a few months, we’ll erect the Y columns one by one.
What you'll see: You probably won't notice—most are going up overnight behind the temporary walls. Late-night travelers will occasionally have to walk a few yards around an installation site.
Once the biggest section of the wood roof is fully assembled, the project team will break it back down into 20 "cassettes". During the summer and fall, Hoffman-Skanska and Mammoet will maneuver each cassette into place over the existing roof. It will take several days to place each cassette, and the work will happen overnight — depending on the section we’re placing, we may guide late-night travelers around a short detour.
What you'll see: Unless you're flying into PDX on a late-night flight, or camped out on Marine Drive at 2 a.m., you won't see much. If you walk to the ends of Concourse C or Concourse D and look back toward the main terminal, you'll catch a glimpse of the airport's new roofline.
In addition to the big projects, you’ll see a host of new amenities appear throughout the airport. A new play area in Concourse E. New art. New restaurants and cafes. (Lardo! Screen Door! Good Coffee!) You're almost guaranteed to encounter something new every time you visit the airport — and we're not talking barricades.