Guests at the State of the Airport presentation take a virtual reality tour of the Pittsburgh airport's new terminal during the reception on Feb. 20 at the Westin Pittsburgh. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

Virtual Reality Offers ‘Inside’ Look at PIT’s New Airport

There were more than a few “wows” Wednesday night as guests attending the annual State of the Airport reception donned virtual reality goggles to experience what will be one of the world’s smartest airports.

“I think that’s the future,” Nicolas Krohne, vice president of North American sales for British Airways, said after viewing the concept design for Pittsburgh’s new, billion-dollar terminal. “Pittsburgh is a community with technology really driving the forefront of where things are going in this country, and ultimately it’s a very exciting time for Pittsburgh.”

Christina Cassotis, CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, along with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and officials from the program’s design team, presented the design and other details for the new terminal, expected to open in 2023.

The so-called Terminal Modernization Program represents a bold step forward in air travel, Cassotis said, but also signifies a tremendous achievement for the region.

Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis speaks Feb. 20 at the Westin Pittsburgh during the 2019 State of the Airport presentation. Joining her, from left, are Luis Vidal, Bill Peduzzi, Carolyn Sponza and Rich Fitzgerald. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

“We have an opportunity – once in a generation if we’re lucky – to as a community come together and engage in a building project that’s going to impact the community for decades to come,” she told the nearly 300 business and community leaders gathered for her annual message.

And from the reactions of the guests viewing the terminal through Oculus VR goggles, the new design did not disappoint.

Christopher Martin, director of Research and Development at Bosch Research and Technology Center, said he was most impressed by the design team of Gensler, HDR, and luis vidal + architects and their commitment to keeping the community involved in the development process.

“That was a really genuine commitment to say, ‘Let’s take the best of the world and all of the incredible things we have in Pittsburgh and combine them together,’” said Martin. “Not that that was unexpected, but that struck me as a really forceful commitment to do that.”

Keynote speaker Luis Vidal, founder and executive president of luis vidal + architects, said he was delighted by the reaction to the concept design and was looking forward to the development, construction and eventual opening of the new terminal.

Vidal added that he and his team will continue to engage with the community to ensure the airport truly reflects Pittsburgh.

“I think that it is very important that wherever you go, you do as you see, and that has been very important,” he said.

David Landis, vice president of Epic Metals Corp., noted the beauty of the design and said he can’t wait to see it take off.

“Some of the design changes, and the way they are saying that the train will continue to operate until the day that you make the transition to the new terminal, sounds very exciting,” he said.

As for the airport’s industry partners, Mark Cestari, chief commercial officer of Southern Airways Express, commended the Airport Authority for its commitment to lowering costs for airlines through the Terminal Modernization.

“While all of these wonderful amenities are happening, the cost for us, which ultimately is the cost for our customers are being reduced. I think that’s quite a balancing act, and I credit the airport team with that.”

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