PDX goes back to its roots with engineered wood

Passengers transiting through Portland International Airport (PDX) will be in for an amazing surprise. The 81-year-old airport is currently undergoing a major transformation as part of the $2 billion PDX Next
revision project. To top it off, the main terminal is getting a brand new solid wood roof.

The $1.2 billion main terminal redevelopment has been underway for 4 years as the Port of Portland worked closely with local design firm ZGF Architects and KPFF Consulting Engineers to
develop and perfect their vision.

In an effort to incorporate more Pacific Northwest-inspired architecture that was both durable and earthquake-resistant, designers turned to solid wood.

A puzzle of surprising proportions

The extensive 300,000 square foot roof renovation includes approximately 2.5 million board feet of lumber. But the real star of the show is the nearly 300 magnificent 80-foot arched glulam beams from APA member Zip-O-Laminators.

Custom glulam beams feature arches of different sizes that will be intentionally placed to create a dome or vault effect in the ceiling.

The diaphragm is constructed from 2-inch solid plywood panels (MPP) from member APA Freres Lumber Co., which will be molded in place over the arched glulam. MPP is a large-scale, glued-laminated veneer-based engineered wood panel that can be used as an alternative to cross-laminated timber (CLT).

Two local solid wood companies joined in the production to help bring the port’s vision to fruition. “We’ve met weekly for the past two and a half years to go over the design and work out all the details,” said Jared Revay, solid wood project manager at Swinerton Builders.

“The biggest challenge we’ve faced so far was designing and manufacturing and figuring out the 2D shape of the MPP needed so that when you bend it, it precisely fits the other pieces of the roof,” said said Revay. . “Each piece of the roof is unique, with a unique number, which precisely matches the torsion and bending of the roof. It is essential that all joints align perfectly and that the panels are installed with great precision.

The 2 inch thick MPP is hand molded over the arched glulam, with exact fastening.

Timberlab, the hardwood business of Swinerton Builders, is the manufacturing partner for the project. “There are a number of MPP fabrications that are smaller, more unique and quite complex, and Timberlab is the only facility in the region that has the five-axis fabrication capabilities that can handle that volume,” Revay said.

The roof is pre-assembled on site in 18 massive cassettes which will be slid into place over the existing roof in a specific order. Revay expects each tape sequence to take about a month to install.

Construction of the main terminal roof is expected to be completed in the fall of 2022, with the rest of the interior construction continuing through 2023. The final pieces of the PDX Next project are expected to be completed in 2025.

Inspired by a walk through a soothing forest in the Pacific Northwest, the design team hopes to create a relaxing atmosphere for travelers.

Honoring a Deeply Rooted Legacy

Wanting to honor and celebrate the region, the port prioritized sustainably and locally sourced timber for the project.

“The port and project stakeholders really wanted to support the local economy,” Revay said, explaining that all the wood used came from within a 600-mile radius.

Oregon, the largest producer of softwood lumber in the United States, has deep roots in the solid wood industry.

“MPP technology is relatively new and was developed by the Freres family who have been based in Oregon for nearly 100 years,” said Sam Dicke, business development representative at Timberlab. “Being able to use their product and support a great family business is a really cool way to showcase that Oregon history.”

The intricate and unique design proved challenging, but the team persisted, fueled by a passion to create a beautiful, sustainable space that pays homage to the region’s rich history and creates a space that travelers from around the world can enjoy. for the coming years. .

“Nearly 20 million people pass through this airport every year. That’s about 50,000 people a day who will see what’s possible with solid wood,” Dicke said. “It’s the coolest thing in the world.”

Do you want more ? Find additional case studies, design information and project ideas at www.apawood.org.