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Portland International Airport carpet

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Portland International Airport's carpet design in December 2014

Portland International Airport (PDX) featured an iconic carpet from the early 1990s to 2015. Situated in Portland, Oregon, the carpet featured geometric shapes on a teal background, representing the intersection of the north and south runways seen by air traffic controllers from the airport's tower at night. The carpet's design proved popular, and is referenced and discussed in other media.

SRG Partnership designed the carpet in 1987, and it was installed throughout Portland International Airport in the early 1990s. In 2013, the Port of Portland announced the carpet's replacement with a new pattern conceptualized by the Portland-based firm Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects. The announcement generated a social media "phenomenon" and gained attention from local and national news outlets. Removal of the original carpet began in January 2015, with the airport recycling worn portions and making remaining pieces available for sale by local retail vendors.

The carpet has been referenced by Portland's NBA basketball team, the Portland Trail Blazers. In 2015, point guard Damian Lillard released his first PDX carpet colorway on the Adidas D Lillard 1 sneaker.[1] In 2016, Lillard released the colorway on the D Lillard 2,[2] also inspired by the carpet. In November 2022, the Trail Blazers introduced their City Edition uniforms. The uniform pays homage to the airport carpet with a sash design that mimics the geometric pattern of the carpet.[3]

In February 2022, it was announced that the iconic carpet would be returning to the airport when renovations to the main terminal are completed in 2024.[4][5]


The original carpet, pictured at Concourse D in 2007, was designed by SRG Architects in 1987.

To reduce the amount of noise created by people walking across hard terminal floors, the Port of Portland contracted SRG Partnership to design new carpeting for Portland International Airport (PDX) in 1987. The SRG principal and co-designer of the carpet, John Schleuning, visited several airports before deciding what to create for the carpet at PDX. SRG steered away from the earth tones traditionally used by airports in the 1980s, incorporating blue and green into their design early on and hoping to evoke "northwest to the core".[6] Its pattern featured geometric shapes on a teal background,[7] an abstract depiction of the intersecting north and south runways seen by air traffic controllers from the airport's tower at night.[6][8][9] Several acres of the carpet were installed by the early 1990s.[6]

Over time, the carpet gained a cult following. Multiple social media accounts were dedicated to it and more than 20,000 pictures were posted to its official Instagram hashtag, #pdxcarpet.[8] Airport visitors often took pictures of their feet on the carpet.[9]

The original carpet design received a positive reception by Portland residents and airport visitors, eventually reaching "local icon" status.[8] Its pattern was used on a variety of products, including bicycle helmets, socks and T-shirts.[8] In 2013, Portland Monthly published "Ode on a Carpet", a poem inspired by T. S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men" (1925).[8][10] In September 2014, PDX installed an 11 ft × 16 ft (3.4 m × 4.9 m) collage made of the carpet.[8]


Old (left) and new (right) carpet designs

A $13 million replacement[11] of the airport's carpet was announced in 2013, sparking social media attention that was picked up by local and national media outlets.[9] The Port of Portland received a large number of comments from local residents who were concerned about the original carpet's future. Annie Linstrom, a spokesperson for the port district, confirmed they were investigating recycling options and considering giving away portions to locals as keepsakes.[6][8] She also said that the Port of Portland "understand[s] that people have an emotional connection to the carpet".[6] In December 2013, Portland Monthly published a preview of the redesign, which was conceptualized by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects of Portland. The magazine reported that the new design included "mood-enhancing colors and a new repeating pattern, while clearly preserving key elements" from the original carpet.[7] Linstrom said, "The Port hopes that travelers will grow to appreciate elements of the new carpet design over time, just as much as the old."[7]

Portland International Airport carpet on display at the Moda Center

In January 2015, removal of the nearly-30-year-old carpet began in front of a crowd of airport employees and media. The Port of Portland's chief operating officer said: "Normally we do these ribbon cuttings when we’re introducing a new thing, but it’s actually the reverse of that in removing the old carpet. We’re going to miss the carpet and we appreciate the community and the love of this carpet."[9] Any businesses that were able to receive, stockpile, and redistribute carpet could request 1,000 square yards (840 m2) from the Port of Portland.[8][9]

The airport's new carpet design features natural and man-made shapes found around the airport—referencing flight, nature, and structures such as airplane wings, hiking trails, leaves, runways, and waterways.[7][8][9] According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, the old and new carpet designs are similar in appearance "to the untrained, out-of-towner eye".[9] Installation was scheduled to continue through November 2015.[9] Local firm Hennebery Eddy Architects is overseeing its installation, having been contracted in June 2013 to select materials and manage logistics.[7] The new carpet is made of materials from recycled carpet and plastic bottles and jars.[8]


  1. ^ Brettman, Allan (May 19, 2015). "D Lillard 1 sneaker, PDX Carpet edition, appears to be on the way". The Oregonian. Archived from the original on October 20, 2022. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  2. ^ Schlemmer, Zack (June 8, 2016). "adidas D Lillard 2 PDX Carpet Release Date". Sneaker News. Archived from the original on October 9, 2016. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  3. ^ "Portland Trail Blazers 22/23 City Edition Uniform: Uniquely Portland". nba.com. November 14, 2022. Retrieved November 16, 2022.
  4. ^ Johnson, Destiny (February 15, 2022). "PDX is getting its old carpet back and we can all rejoice". kgw.com. Archived from the original on February 23, 2022. Retrieved February 23, 2022.
  5. ^ Costello, Ian (February 14, 2022). "Iconic carpet returning to PDX in 2024". KOIN.com. Archived from the original on February 23, 2022. Retrieved February 23, 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d e Johnson, Cari (December 20, 2013). "A Brief History of the PDX Airport Carpet". Portland Monthly. Portland, Oregon: Sagacity Media. ISSN 1546-2765. Archived from the original on December 31, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d e Johnson, Cari (December 12, 2013). "A Peek at PDX Airport's New Carpet". Portland Monthly. Archived from the original on January 17, 2015. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Barney, Alicia (December 16, 2014). "In Portland, It's Curtains for an Airport Carpet". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 7, 2015. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Duffy, Lizzy (January 23, 2015). "Portland International Airport Commemorates PDX Carpet With Ripping Ceremony". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Archived from the original on January 25, 2015. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  10. ^ "Ode on a Carpet, by T.S.A. Eliot". Portland Monthly. December 2, 2013. Archived from the original on February 9, 2015. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  11. ^ Johnson, Steve (January 23, 2015). "PDXNext: Portland International Airport Improvements Planned" (PDF) (Press release). Port of Portland. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 11, 2015. Retrieved April 5, 2015.