The $9.1 billion 20-year, 75-project effort at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., hit a major milestone with a steel topping ceremony on the expansion of the airport’s International Terminal Building, known as Pier D, one of the key parts of the largest expansion in the project portfolio. 

Designed by Kasian Architecture and constructed by PCL Construction, the expansion, set for completion in 2020, will create space for an additional eight wide-body gates — four bridged gates and four remote stand operation gates — so the airport can handle the A380 airplanes and its wingspan of 260 ft. The Vancouver Airport Authority says the expansion will help YVR meet growing passenger demand, having welcomed a record 25.9 million passengers in 2018. 

YVR officials say the airport’s operations contribute more than $16 billion in total economic output to the region each year and each new flight into the airport creates hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in economic benefit. The YVR multi-year expansion plans come from YVR’s operating structure, which receives no government funding and sends profits generated back into the airport for future benefit. 

“YVR’s mandate is to serve our region, connecting people and products to destinations all around the world,” says Craig Richmond, YVR president and CEO, in a statement. “We are able to deliver on this thanks to our unique operating model and by being a connecting hub, which encourages passengers from other parts of the world to travel through our airport. Connecting passengers create enough demand to support air services that would not otherwise be possible. This directly results in significant benefits—not only more destinations, airlines and choices for passengers but jobs and business activity for the local, provincial and national economy.” 

Jeff Murphy, PCL Construction’s BC Region district manager, says that the 25-year partnership his company has with YVR really takes shape anew with the Pier D expansion project. “This expansion is the largest terminal expansion since 1996, and we couldn’t be prouder that our team gets to build it,” he says in a statement. “Working collaboratively with YVR, the consultants and trade contractors, the PCL team worked safely and diligently to complete the steel structure on time and are excited to celebrate the completion of it.” 

The multi-year expansion plans include new parking, sustainability projects, safety upgrades and terminal expansions, including the Pier D project that kicks off future terminal work. YVR started with a small administration building and one runway in 1931 and is now the largest building in British Columbia and the second-busiest airport in the country. The terminal plan is based on building in an incremental and centralized manner, providing the opportunity to adapt the plan based on passenger growth. A centralized expansion means one terminal, all interconnected, with the shortest possible distance between gates. 

The Pier D expansion project broke ground in June 2018 and, along with the needed space, will feature an “island forest” West Coast interior design with new artwork, restaurants and bars.

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