Monday’s assignment was another one for the books: go the airport, meet a couple of guys from the Dallas-based Corgan architecture and design firm, let them outfit me in a weighted vest, knee pads, padded shoes and assorted other items that simulate being 30 years older than I am, and take a walk.
The goal? To experience the challenges of moving through a busy, crowded airport without the pep, eyesight and navigational fearlessness of a much younger person.
I’m writing up the details of this educational and exhausting day for tomorrow’s At the Airport column on USA TODAY, but here’s a pic of me trying to get a suitcase up and over the lip of a bag claim carousel.
On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the long-awaited plan for the promised makeover of LaGuardia Airport, which U.S. vice-president Joe Biden likened to one found in “some Third World country.”
The make-over of the airport will be massive: it will cost at least $4 billion and include one unified terminal building “designed so passengers intuitively understand the airport’s layout,” an automated tram, business and conference center capabilities, better roadways and public transportation to and from the airport, better taxiways for the airplanes, a cell phone lot, a consolidated rental car center, a boutique hotel and the services, dining and shopping options now offered by first-class airports elsewhere.
A tall order? Sure, you betcha’. But something has to be done.
Here’s a video that details the design that just might make you believe it will happen.
Foot-forward selfies with the carpet are popular at PDX.
It’s usually a bit of an inconvenience, but not that big a deal, when an airport changes out the carpeting in the terminals.
But because the current carpet at Portland International Airport has become a social media sensation, all manner of media will be on hand Friday when construction crews begin removing the existing carpet at PDX and preparing the floor for the installation of 13 acres of new carpet—enough to cover nearly 10 football fields.
This is what the new PDX carpet will look like.
Here’s the story of the PDX carpet and a round-of of some quirky airport carpets found at other airports around the country that I put together for my “At the Airport” column on USA Today.
Installed in the late 1980s, the old PDX carpet sports a geometric pattern inspired by the airport’s intersecting north-south runways and was for years an ignored part of the airport décor.
But then Portland began celebrating its core weirdness, social media became the big thing, and the rug became a hip symbol of home celebrated on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and with souvenirs ranging from socks, caps and water bottles to T-shirts, mugs, tote bags and bike helmets.
Carpet-inspired art and ale followed: Nancy Wilkins’s 11-foot by 16-foot collage, made of pieces of PDX carpet and titled “Carpet Diem!” was recently installed at the airport and Oregon-based Rogue Ales & Spirits just introduced PDX Carpet IPA.
PDX isn’t the only airport to forgo tile, terrazzo or other hard flooring in favor of rugs more difficult to maintain, but worth a second look.
When it was time to order 10.5 acres of new carpeting for its three terminals, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport looked for something that would hold up to high foot traffic and repeated cleaning, and be easily recycled when it came time for replacement.
In 2005, PHX got all that (at the cost of $34.66 per square yard) plus a cool, custom pattern that looks like an aircraft on a radar screen.
In the pedestrian walkway between Terminal A and the parking garage at Sacramento International Airport, travelers walk across the 150-foot-long “Flying Carpet” created by artist Seyed Alavi. Installed in 2005, the woven, woolen carpet portrays a digital, aerial image of about 50 miles of the Sacramento River and nearby farm fields and orchards.
Part of an “Art in Public Places” project, the commission for SMF’s Flying Carpet included a duplicate version of the rug that has been in storage.
There are no socks, caps, beer or other official souvenirs (yet) bearing the carpet patterns from Phoenix Sky Harbor or Sacramento International Airports, but visitors regularly post images of the carpets on social media.
Denver International Airport recently installed 42,000 square yards of new carpeting in Concourse B and 25,000 square yards of new carpeting in Concourse C, at a cost of $2.5 million and $1.7 million respectively. The pattern isn’t aviation-themed, but casually references rivers and streams (in the walking areas) and (in the seating areas) things passengers often see out the windows at DEN: rain and snow.
The pattern in the 33 acres of teal and white carpeting at Orlando International Airport is quite simple but, along with plenty of light, water and live landscaping, is in keeping with the goal of creating an environment that is comfortable, people-friendly.
Meanwhile, back at Portland International Airport, the old carpet will be gone, but not forgotten: a limited number of 1,000 square yard sections of the old carpet will be made available to winning applicants who will likely sell or give it away small bits of the carpet to others.
These flowers welcome travelers at B.C.’s Victoria International Airport. Courtesy of the airport.
Two airport firsts for me this weekend on a very short trip to Canada.
I took my first Kenmore Air seaplane ride from Seattle to Victoria, B.C. and I finally had a chance to visit Victoria International Airport.
I actually took two seaplane rides.
The first flight from Seattle to Victoria had to turn around due to low visibility and return to Kenmore Air’s Lake Union base. While some passengers (there were five of us on board – plus one tiny dog) rushed off to find alternate transportation to Victoria, I considered myself lucky to have gotten a bonus scenic tour and settled in to wait for the next flight.
Clearing customs on arrival at the seaplane terminal in Victoria, B.C. was incredibly easy: just two Canada Border Services Agency employees in a shack on the dock asking each passenger if they had fruits and vegetables with them and if they’ve been near anyone with Ebola. The entire plane was processed in two minutes.
The Victoria Seaplane Terminal is tiny, but packed with amenities that include free Wi-Fi and complimentary computer workstations, newspapers, coffee, fruit and morning pastries.
The airport serves about 1.5 million passengers a year and besides being on lovely Vancouver Island, it has a lot going for it. Here are snaps from my tour:
Inside the terminal, the foliage is live and the color palette for the finishes draw inspiration from “At Beacon Hill Park,” a painting by the well-known Victoria artist Emily Carr.
Spinnakers On the Fly, an airport outpost of a popular local gastropub, has 12 Spinnakers beers on tap, including one called, Departures,’ brewed just for the airport
The gift shop sells lots of locally-made Roger’s Chocolates and a wide assortment of handmade gift items.
In addition to a play area for kids, an art-filled indoor observation deck, pet relief areas, workstations and bike assembly stations with loaner tools, the airport has several water fountains with water bottle re-fill attachments and counters that keep track of how many plastic bottles are being kept out of landfills.
Surrounding the airport is the Flight Path – an almost 6-mile biking and hiking path with informational signs about the landmarks and history of the area along the way such as Hospital Hill, once the site of medical facilities for the Royal Canadian Air Force.
An interactive map of the Flight Path includes the historical information listed on each sign along the path.