Engineering expertise on PDX Next

Concourse B opens at Portland International Airport

Concourse B, Portland International Airport’s newest concourse and part of the PDX Next expansion, opened early December 2021 creating an enhanced passenger experience with an upgraded and expanded look. Expanding from just two gates to 10, the concourse will also serve ground load planes offering service to small regional airports like Boise, with Alaska Air and Horizon Airlines being the largest tenants. The concourse features 500 seats and 300 electrical outlets, meaning passengers will no longer need to sit on the floor against a wall to wait for a charge.

With over 50 years of history working with the Port, PAE provided mechanical, electrical, technology and lighting design for the project designed by ZGF Architects. The project was delivered using the Construction Manager General Contractor (CMGC) approach through a Hoffman Skanska joint venture, with subcontractors including JH Kelly for mechanical, Just Right Heating & Cooling (COBID) for ductwork, and Cosco for fire protection. PAE also worked collaboratively with COBID design firms K2 for technology and security, PID for electrical, and DBC for architecture.

The most complex part of the project from an engineering systems perspective was to keep Alaska and Horizon up and running during the entire process so all operations from radio communications to ground loading had to be moved to a temporary location in Concourse C for 18 months. The logistics of gathering and quickly enacting input from Alaska Airlines, the Port of Portland, security teams, interior teams, and more, made the moves a major endeavor. In addition, PDX has a long history of winning Travel + Leisure’s #1 award for America’s Best Airport, so keeping customer service and a positive passenger experience was an extremely high priority. The fact that PDX is #1 again in 2021 is a testament to the team’s diligence.

“The amount of work that went into making Concourse C a temporary location was pretty significant.”

Ned Greene, PAE Project Manager

The problem solving included installing an outdoor staircase and exit ramp in Concourse C along with a fleet of outside tents, all within a tight timeframe, while ensuring the safety of the passengers. After gate operations successfully moved, official work on Concourse B could begin.

The new design created a modern space that still fit within the existing terminal and systems. PAE designed upgrades to the mechanical and electrical systems, essentially removing everything from the old Concourse A and re-building with a new independent HVAC and electrical system. The new concessio tenants, which open in 2022, are local Portland favorites Good Coffee and Screen Door, and were designed to integrate into the existing waste and vacuum grease waste systems.

Concourse B is part of the PDX Next Terminal Core Redevelopment project, which PAE is also a part of, that will help the airport handle the anticipated increase in passengers while helping to meet the Port of Portland’s environmental goals. The new concourse was designed to tie into the energy and water systems that are part of the main terminal project, which is undergoing a significant efficiency upgrade.

The logistics of working in a functional airport while maintaining the highest level of customer experience, along with addressing security protocols and many stakeholder needs, was a unique and challenging venture for the entire design team. The end result is a space full of plant life and warm wood paneling, “Inhabitance” artwork by Indigenous artist RYAN! Feddersen, a two-story wall of floor-to-ceiling windows offering a panoramic view of the airfield along with extensive daylighting, and an easy way to charge your dying phone, thanks to the robust electrical system.

“The Port of Portland does an amazing job with communicating change and celebrating what makes PDX the #1 airport. It’s great to work with such a forward-thinking group of people at PDX.”

Brad Wilson, PAE Principal in Charge