Pittsburghers Share Their Ideas for a Modern Terminal

More than 2,000 share thoughts on green space, parking, baggage claim and local flair

By Theresa Gallick

Published January 4, 2019

Read Time: 3 mins


It was Light-Up Night, and Downtown Pittsburgh was wicked cold. The wind whipped down Stanwix Street and swirled around the plaza surrounding the Gateway T station. The Deshmukh family of Pittsburgh wished they had worn more layers, and everyone but mom complained about stinging cheeks and frigid hands.

Then they saw it. Under a little tent perched outside the main entrance to Gateway 2, staff members from Pittsburgh International Airport were giving away gloves.

There was just one little catch. Ariane Wagler, an intern with the airport’s Terminal Modernization Program, approached with an iPad.

“Would you be willing to give us your ideas about the new airport design?” she asked. Pallav Deshmukh agreed and reached for the device with his newly gloved hand.

Why do research?

The Terminal Modernization Program, known as the TMP, will result in a new, state-of-the-art terminal at PIT by 2023.

The project was officially launched Sept. 12, 2017, and since then, the Allegheny County Airport Authority has been assembling a world-class team of industry experts and innovators that will design the buildings, plan the construction and manage the project.

The key milestone for the TMP in early 2019 is to complete 30 percent of the concept design — plans that will capture the overall look, feel and direction of the new terminal, ground transportation center and other important features.

To gain public input on designs for the new terminal, the TMP team has attended public events including the Farmers Market in Market Square and Light-Up Night, and distributed online surveys.

“We are transforming an industry by thinking differently and by creating opportunities to introduce Pittsburgh to the world,” said Paul Hoback, Senior Vice President of Engineering, Maintenance and Capital Development. “These designs will reinvent the experience of our passengers and visitors to PIT.”

The architects and engineering design team of Gensler + HDR, along with luis vidal + architects, began working on conceptual design ideas shortly after Labor Day. The work has raised many questions, including:

  • “How far can we expect passengers to walk?”
  • “How important is sustainability to the Pittsburgh region?”
  • “Do people in the area want green space within the new airport?”
  • “How do we ensure that unique Pittsburgh features and amenities are reflected?”

Instead of guessing the answers, the TMP office decided to go directly to the community. To assure they would get as many responses as possible, the TMP team attended public events that attracted a large number of people.

To date, they have met with Pittsburghers at events including a Farmers Market in Market Square, the chilly Light-Up Night Downtown, the airport’s Holiday Open House on Dec. 1, and by issuing online surveys.

Program Advisory Groups and Working Groups made up of key airport stakeholders and local representatives of arts and culture, ground transportation and parking, accessibility, sustainability and landscapes, technology and passenger experience are also being formed to provide input and feedback throughout the design and construction phases.

And the survey says …

So far, more than 2,000 surveys have been completed. Preliminary results show positive support for the project: Most respondents know about the TMP and think it is important to modernize the airport. Most cite “finding parking” and “going through security” as processes that need the most improvement when departing PIT, and “picking up checked bags” as needing the most improvement upon arrival.

Pittsburghers also think various design options, including children’s play areas and art displays, are important in the new facility. Survey respondents overwhelmingly selected sustainability and green initiatives as the most important design feature.

When the new terminal opens, Pittsburghers said they would like to feel “proud,” “relaxed” and “welcome.”

Going forward, the TMP team wants to expand survey results to assure that the voices of frequent travelers are heard.

“The design team is incorporating this input, along with feedback from airport personnel, community leaders and industry experts to refine their initial concepts and create a truly one-of-a-kind design for all of Pittsburgh to be proud of,” Hoback said. “We will be certain that the new design will deliver the airport our region deserves.”

Final designs are expected to be unveiled in the first quarter of this year.

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