“We are really projecting the airport into the future,” he said, standing under a skylight. The goal is to create a larger, more seaworthy and seismically stable terminal, ready for the looming giant earthquake.
“Some airports have the luxury of building a new airport, but we don’t have the space for it,” he said. The Port of Portland has chosen the modular construction method. Work on the new roof is being done on the west side, near the Ground Run Up enclosure, a sort of giant cabin in which the jets can run their engines on the ground to test them without making too much noise.
“We had to find a creative way to do it, and it’s a lot safer,” he said. Not only are workers less at risk because they are working at a lower height, but they are also away from all the hassle of an airport, including vehicles and passengers.
As part of architect ZGF’s design, the space between the beams will first be covered with acoustic baffles (large flat plates) and then with a three-by-six Doug Fir trellis. This fairly heavy wood will look like matches from a distance down. Other wooden details around the huge skylights will give the impression of being inside a set of collecting sticks.
But it all has to be put together and then moved to the tarmac. The problem with modular construction is always how to put the finished product in place because it is too big for most transportation systems. So, from March 2022, the steel beams of the new airport roof will be lifted on Self-Propelled Modular Transporters (SPMTs), which look like giant truck beds with lots of wheels. Six bogies will be used, each with 24 wheels and capable of lifting 1 million pounds. SPMTs are used to move oil rigs. Mammoet, the Dutch firm that works at the airport, also installed a mobile containment shelter, larger than Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, above the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 2016.