Pittsburgh International Airport Terminal Modernization Program

Pittsburgh International Airport terminal modernization aerial

Pittsburgh International Airport Terminal Modernization Program

Renderings courtesy of Gensler + HDR in association with luis vidal + architects.

As Pittsburgh International Airport looked to the future, it saw the need for a modernized airport terminal, better scaled to fit its community. We came alongside to help them realize their vision as they pursued this once-in-a-generation opportunity.

When the current terminal opened in 1992, the airport was a major hub for US Airways and saw well over 400,000 take-offs and landings each year. As a result, the terminal complex was built to handle up to 32 million travelers a year. But about a decade after its opening, US Airways refocused elsewhere, and traffic plunged. In recent years, traffic has begun to rise again, and in 2018, the airport recorded just over 150,000 take-offs and landings, and about 9.7 million travelers. The Federal Aviation Administration expects that growth to continue in the coming years as the airport adds flights and destinations.

To support that positive growth, a streamlined, right-sized terminal was called for, and we are leading the surface access, site, airfield and infrastructure design for the resulting $1.1 billion project as part of a joint venture with Gensler and in association with luis vidal + architects. The concept design was unveiled in February 2019. 

Our responsibilities on the new terminal include the traffic analysis that will guide the roadway and bridge design, and overseeing design of airfield modifications such as apron and taxiway pavement lighting, security fencing, security checkpoints and aircraft hydrant fueling. We also provided site infrastructure services, including work on roadway bridges and site utilities, which include water, fire protection, natural gas, sanitary sewer, electrical and communications. Finally, we provided guidance and expertise to introduce the airport to new and emerging technologies for their incorporation into the modernization.

A Custom-Fit Design Team

With experts passionate about aviation and deep roots in the Pittsburgh area, we built a tailor-made team for the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which runs the airport.

“Our success on this program is directly attributable to leveraging our matrix organization and the extensive professional expertise of many groups,” said Aviation Director Bill Peduzzi. “In addition to our aviation team, colleagues from a wide array of disciplines contributed to this project, including roadway and bridge design, bridge architecture, traffic, advanced technologies, utilities, geotechnical and site civil staff.”

The new terminal will eliminate what had been mismatches between the size of the airport’s passenger traffic and its landside and airside facilities. 

“We’re paying for a facility that is too expensive to maintain with technology and space configurations that were designed for a different time in aviation,” Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in September 2017.

Once complete, the terminal will also have lower operations and maintenance costs, making the airport more competitive long-term. The design team expects to achieve significant savings from the reduction of finished terminal spaces, improvements to the baggage handling system, the decommissioning of the automated people-mover, adoption of emerging technologies and a reduction in private security costs, among other areas.

Planning a Better Airport Experience

Travelers in Pittsburgh currently check in at the airport’s landside facility, then ride an underground automated people-mover to a separate airside terminal to reach their gate. The new structure, built between two arms of the existing X-shaped terminal, will consolidate check-in, ticketing, security and baggage operations into one connected facility, making trips faster and simpler. Once open in 2023, the new terminal is expected to cut the time from car to plane by half. 

The design features additional space for concessions, an expanded Transportation Security Administration checkpoint and separate levels for departing and arriving passengers. A new 3,500-space parking garage will also be built, and space will be left for a possible light rail transit station in the future.

“The Pittsburgh region is unique and this modernization program will add another signature piece of infrastructure that represents our character and values as well as positions our region for continued growth and success in the future,” Peduzzi said.

Pittsburgh International Airport terminal modernization aerial