Incorporating mass timber in airport terminal design

Oslo International Airport – Terminal 2 – Source:

As the use of mass timber design and construction expands in building development, it has also become increasingly used in airport terminal projects. Above and below are images from airports around the globe where mass timber construction has been incorporated into new buildings and/or terminal renovation projects.

Anahim Lake Airport, British Columbia, Canada – New terminal (2013)


As the photographs depict, mass timber can add character, beauty, charm, warmth, and a distinctive style to airport terminal design. In addition, mass timber can be utilized in a variety of airport design and construction projects ranging from small, remote airfields like Anahim Lake (shown above) to major international destinations like Cebu, Oslo, Portland, Seattle, and Zurich (see below).

Cebu International Airport, Philippines – New terminal (2018)


Long treks and lengthy waits at busy airports can all-too-often become a mind-numbing experience for air passengers. It is hoped that the added use of mass timber design and construction will help alleviate some of the tedium and tension brought on by crowds, long lines, layovers, weather delays, tight schedules, flight cancellations, jet lag, lost luggage, and other less-than pleasant aspects of air travel. A recent study at the University British Columbia showed that wood products can have stress-reducing benefits in an office environment (see below).

“Based on the results of this study, wood may reduce stress in the indoor environment. Subjects in the wood office displayed lower stress activation in all periods of the study. In the baseline period, both skin conductance level and the frequency of non-specific skin responses were lower in the wood room. During the stressful test period, skin conductance level did not differ between the wood and non-wood rooms. However, the frequency of non-specific skin responses was lower in the wood room during the test period. Finally, during the recovery period non-specific skin responses were lower in the wood room. Though not statistically lower in the recover period, skin conductance levels in the wood room began to move lower than in the non-wood room.”

Fell, D. R. (2010). Wood in the human environment : restorative properties of wood in the built indoor environment (T). University of British Columbia. Retrieved from

Chibougamau-Chapais Airport, Quebec, Canada – New terminal (2022)


It will be interesting to see if the use of mass timber products in airport development extends beyond those nations/regions/locales where the timber industry is important and wood is an abundant natural resource — which is the case for each of these airport locations. Furthermore, if the incorporation of more timber/wood products into terminal design can be shown to help reduce tension and stress at airports, it is likely to be employed at more locations to help improve the overall travel experience.

The importance of an improved traveler experience cannot be understated enough. A 2015 study published by the Journal of Air Transport Management identified that an airport’s design is the top predictor of whether an air traveler will enjoy their trip. With that being the case, the intense competition for attracting flights and air travel dollars will probably persuade more airport administrators/operators to include mass timber elements into their terminal’s design and architectural features.

Flughafen Zurich International, Switzerland – Main terminal: Dock A (2032)


Fort McMurray International Airport, Alberta, Canada – New terminal (2015)


Helena Regional Airport, Montana, USA – Terminal expansion (2020)


Kelowna International Airport, British Columbia, Canada – Terminal expansion (2026)


Oslo International Airport, Norway – Terminal 2 (2017)


Portland International Airport, Oregon, USA – New main terminal (2025)


Portland International Jetport, Maine, USA – New terminal roof (2011)


Seattle- Tacoma International Airport, Washington, USA – Concourse C expansion (2027)



If you would like to learn more about mass timber design and construction, here are two (2) resources available via*

Link – Mass Timber
Link – Solid Wood

*A small commission is earned from purchases that are made using the above links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


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