Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - A crew member with 4M Flooring of Portland began ripping sections of the 28-year-old PDX carpet Friday morning. New carpet will be installed during the next 10 months.With a mechanical tug Friday morning, Portland International Airport’s beloved 28-year-old carpet began being ripped (literally) from Northwest history.

Shortly after 11 a.m. Jan. 23, Bill Mackey with 4M Flooring of Portland, and his crew, used a riding carpet demolition machine — a kind of mini-Zamboni for industrial carpet replacement — and began ripping large swaths of the teal and blue carpet from the end of PDX’s Concourse C, just past gates 22 and 23.

It was the start of a $13 million project that could last until November to replace the nearly 13 acres of carpet that was installed in 1987 and has found a place in Portland’s weird folklore. A Made In Oregon store in the airport’s Oregon Marketplace sold T-shirts and bottles of Rogue Brewing pale ale adorned with the carpet’s well-worn pattern. Online, you can buy pillows, ties and smartphone covers with the carpet’s pattern.

Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - A crew from 4M Flooring carried away a section of the old PDX carpet Friday morning after it was pulled from a section of Concourse C.“We’re a little sad to say goodbye to the old carpet,” said Vince Granato, Port of Portland chief operating officer, as he waited for the carpet demolition crew to begin ripping out sections on the concourse. “Still, we’re looking forward to freshening up the airport with new carpet, joined by several other major improvements over the next few years.”

Cool in the ’80s

Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO: KEVIN L. HARDEN - Rolls of the new carpet that will be installed at PDX are stored in a hallway between concourses.Replacing the old carpet is just the first step in a collection of projects known as PDXNext. The nearly $190 million in improvements planned for the airport between 2015 and 2017 include 11 new shops and restaurants opening by April; remodeling of the federal inspection station to improve service to international passengers; relocating and expanding security checkpoints and developing new waiting areas; and extending Concourse E with construction beginning this fall.

Last year, a record 15.9 million passengers passed through PDX. In October, the airport celebrates its 75th anniversary.

The carpet replacement project was designed and created with the help of Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects of Portland; Hennebery Eddy Architects Inc. of Portland; Emerick Construction Co. of Happy Valley; Rubenstein’s of Portland; 4M Flooring of Portland; and J+J Flooring Solutions of Dalton, Ga., which fabricated the new carpet.

Architect Michelle Vo, a principal with Hennebery Eddy Architects, led the design effort that created the new carpeting. She said the old woven carpet featured a runway motif that was popular as the age of personal technology began to take off.

Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO: KEVIN L. HARDEN - T-shirts with the pattern of the 28-year-old old PDX carpet were on sale at a Made In Oregon store in the airport's Oregon Marketplace.Vo says the new carpeting — tufted in Georgia, not woven — will better reflect the Northwest’s lush landscape.

“I’m excited about the new carpet,” Vo said. “I think the new carpet relates better to the experience of flying in and out of Portland. It’s more like the greenery that you see as you’re flying in. The old pattern here is something like runways, or something like what an air traffic controller would see. It’s not something that we as passengers experience.

“It was cool in the ’80s, because it was kind of like, ‘We want to show you some technology.’ Well, we’re in front of technology all the time now, so let’s get back to something that we really experience. The new pattern is more like that.”

Most carpet replacement work will take place at night to minimize disruptions for travelers and airport businesses.

Much of the old carpet will be recycled. Because some people want a piece of PDX’s history, the port is selling large quantities of the carpet to vendors, who will sell it to the public.

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