As the gatekeeper to visitors, primarily international visitors, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) believes that in order to increase the region’s economic growth, people should be able to travel in and out of the area with ease. Sea-Tac’s $3.22 billion investment in capital development projects was intended to reduce delays and improve customer experience. In anticipation of future growth, the South Satellite, a 30-year old building, was improved to accommodate future passengers. The project upgraded Sea-Tac’s South Satellite heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, electrical systems, fire systems, and communication systems. Upgrades were conducted without interrupting regular airport operations.

To seamlessly upgrade the HVAC system, JWF was tasked with installing temporary air handling units on the roof. This allowed the old HVAC system to be removed and replaced with a new mechanical penthouse dual duct air handler. Work was primarily done on the concourse, mezzanine, and satellite transit station levels. The work included replacing the lighting, sprinklers, ceiling, carpets, HVAC system, and installing finishes. The scope also consisted of replacing escalator ceilings, lights, and sprinklers all while maintaining escalator operation.

JWF’s experience and coordination with all parties allowed for airport operations to remain intact while completing the work. The teams operated seamlessly while ensuring a safe environment for the public, limiting noise, dust, debris, and disruptions, anticipating and projecting work three weeks ahead, and communicating with stakeholders regarding work plans. Communication allowed stakeholders, including various Sea-Tac divisions, shops, and passengers, to anticipate and close certain areas when needed. Extensive planning and communication allowed JWF to operate two shifts, allowing noisy and disruptive operations to be done at night.

One of the unexpected hurdles JWF identified was that the roof structure did not have the load capacity indicated in the drawings. Collaborating with JWF’s mechanical sub, it was determined that the concrete was crumbling. The roof required re-engineering and redrawing to ensure that installations, including heavy water pipes, were safely installed.


Port of Seattle




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