If the architect behind the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport’s new passenger terminal had to pick one word describing what people want the new building to be, it would be “welcoming.”

“A lot of people don’t feel that the current terminal really provides that correct first impression,” said Tim Dacey, vice president of architecture firm Mead and Hunt.

Dacey and others involved with the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport’s $49 million terminal project welcomed the public to view the conceptual design of the proposed building Wednesday at the Round Top Public House in Pullman.

Digital renderings of the building and facts about the current and proposed terminal were on display for public viewing. Community members were also invited to leave comments about what they want to see out of the new terminal.

Pullman resident Richard Huggins is looking forward to a larger building with more space to handle an increase in passengers. He said the current terminal will be in for a “shock” when the COVID-19 pandemic is over and more people want to start traveling again.

“It’s like a sardine can in there,” he said of the smaller, current terminal.

So far, Huggins likes what he sees from the design of the new building.

“It looks like they obviously thought things through very well and we certainly do need a new terminal,” he said.

The existing terminal, built in 1990, is 8,785 square feet. According to airport officials, this is not adequate for the existing number of passengers who use it, let alone the expected increase in passengers in the future. In 2019, more than 70,000 passengers boarded planes and that number is expected to increase to 137,000 by 2029.

Dacey said it needs to be 40,000 square feet to meet current demand. Mead and Hunt is proposing 50,000 square feet, but engineers will be able to easily expand the building later to meet future demand. This means they can add new boarding gates, baggage claim devices and expand the security checkpoint.

Dacey also said the airport will nearly double its parking when the terminal is completed.He expects the new terminal to open in early 2023. In addition to the terminal, the airport is anticipating two daily nonstop flights to Denver in the near future.

Those involved in the terminal project have been gathering feedback from the Pullman and Moscow communities for the past five months. They will be at the Best Western Plus University Inn from 5-7 p.m. today in Moscow to show off the conceptual design and receive more public comments, which Dacey said are “super valuable.”

People can also leave comments at the airport’s website: flypuw.com.

Dacey said the conceptual design was inspired by the region the terminal is located. It has a curved roof that emulates the Palouse landscape. He said it is clear the public wants a light-filled space that has a fresh look and welcoming feel.

He anticipates the full design will be completed this year.

The federal government is expected to provide $42 million in funding for the project through the Federal Aviation Administration and CARES money.

Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.

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