AKA: Sea-Tac International Airport, Sea-Tac, WA

Structure Type: built works - infrastructure - transportation structures - airports

Designers: Naramore, Bain, Brady, and Johanson, (NBBJ) (firm); William James Bain Sr. (architect); Clifton J. Brady (architect); Perry Bertil Johanson (architect); Floyd Archibald Naramore (architect); Richard Zieve (architect)

Dates: constructed 1942-1944

Sea-Tac, WA

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When the US military requisitioned use of Boeing Field for use at the beginning of World War II, the Port of Seattle planned a new airport facility to serve the growing civlian passenger business. By 2018, Sea-Tac International Airport had encompassed 2,500 acres and had become the 9tth busiest airport in the US.

Building History

The Port of Seattle began plans for constructing a new civilian airport following the military's takeover of Boeing Field on 12/06/1941. Funded by a $1 million grant from the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA), $100,000 from the City of Tacoma, and its own revenue, construction of Sea-Tac Airport's first phase began in 1942 and finished in 1944. As a condition of the City of Tacoma's contribution to the airport's construction, the city government insisted that the name "Tacoma" appear in the facility's title in some form. Three years later, Sea-Tac Airport's regular passenger flights began with two airlines, Northwest Airways, Incorporated, and Trans-Canada (later Air Canada) Air Lines.

On 07/09/1949, an expanded $11 million facility served five airlines: United (once a Boeing company), Western, Northwest and Pan American World Airways, and with the inauguration of Northwest's service to Tokyo, Japan, the new airfield became known as "Sea-Tac International Airport." After it began routine, trans-Pacific flights to Japan and China, Northwest began to call itself, "Northwest Orient Airlines."

Building Notes

In 2007, Sea-Tac International Airport handled about 1,000 flights a day and served 29.9 million passengers in 2006. In 2009, Sea-Tac stood as the 17th busiest in the US, having served 31,227,512 passengers, accommodated 317,873 aircraft operations and handling 269,804 in cargo. (See Port of Seattle.org, "Airport Statistics," accessed 01/04/2011, not accessible 08/07/2019..)

In 2018, statistics disagreed about how many passengers Sea-Tac had served. One source indicated that the number had risen to 46,934,194 million passengers, ranking it as the 9th busiest airport in the US. (See World Atlas.com, "The Busiest Airports in the US," accessed 08/07/2019.) Other sources, however, listed the number as 24,894,338 passengers, still ranking it at 9th. (See World Airport Codes.com, "US Top 40 Airports," Between 05/2018 and 04/2019, Alaska Airlines accounted for 42.18% of the passengers using Sea-Tac, while Delta had 18.07%, Horizon Air, 9.49%, Southwest, 7.12% and United, 6.67%. The top ten destination cities in the US from Seattle included (in order) Los Angeles, CA, San Francisco, CA, Anchorage, AK, Las Vegas, NV, Denver, CO, Phoenix, AZ, Chicago, IL, Portland, OR, San Diego, CA, and San Jose, CA. (See US Department of Transportation.gov, "Seattle, WA: Seattle/Tacoma International (SEA)," accessed 08/07/2019.)


Runway number one was enlarged to accommodate the greater speeds of jets in 1959, and further enhanced in 1961, beefing up its proportions in anticipation of a tourist crush for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. The second runway, a huge parking facility, two satellite terminals and other additions occurred during a large expansion carried on from 1967-1973. Due to increased airline travel, port officials made plans beginning in 1994 for a third runway. The addition of this runway became a highly-charged political issue, with adjacent neighborhoods trying to block the Port from embarking on the project. Despite this resistance, Sea-Tac began, in the early 2000s, a $4.5 billion expansion that included a new third runway, a new central terminal, and a new concourse. NBBJ designed the main architectural feature of the 2000 expansion, the 70-foot-high, steel and glass South Hall; partner, Rick Zieve served as the NBBJ lead partner on the project. Civil engineering improvements cost $250 million alone and covered 22 acres. According to the web site of the civil engineering firm participating on the expansion, ACM Engineering: "Site improvements included relocation of 1,400 feet of the cargo and ground transportation access road with runoff water quality treatment, retaining walls, and a ground transportation parking lot. Utility work included relocation of existing 12- and 24-inch water mains and installation of new 12-inch water mains (2100 feet); storm drainage (5100 feet) and industrial waste systems (2700 feet) with pump stations; sanitary sewers (2300 feet)." (See http://www.acm-engineering.com/id13.html Accessed 06/02/2008)

PCAD id: 7273