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What 2.1 Million Labor Hours Looks Like

July 2, 2021

If you’re flying out of the North Satellite this week, you’re in for a treat!  You’ll see 10 more remodeled gates, modernized holdrooms with mountain views, and a new airport destination — the Marketplace at N. This early opening also marks another significant milestone — the end of construction for the North Satellite Modernization project

Since work began in June 2016, 2.1 million labor hours have shaped the North Satellite you see today. 2.1 million hours has meant more local jobs and workforce training during a challenging time for many and spurred economic opportunity to support regional recovery. Over 25 percent of the work on this project was performed by people of color and 20 percent by apprentices. And, more than $100 million of construction dollars were spent utilizing small business enterprises, of which $16.5 million went to minority- or women-owned businesses. 

To celebrate the early opening of the new North Satellite, relive some of the big moments in construction over the last four years.  

North Satellite construction site - pit with structural columns going in
September 2017: New structural columns support the 240-foot expansion of the facility in Phase 1 of construction. All structural columns stacked end-to-end stand at nearly 15,000 feet (taller than Mount Rainier).

2017-2019: The Phase 1 facility expansion was built first to keep the North Satellite operating during construction. 5,000 tons of steel were used on the project. 

Frankenbuilding - North Satellite was a blend of old and new construction
September 2018: Lovingly called the “Frankenbuilding” for a short period of time, the North Satellite was a blend of the old 1970s facility (seen on the left) and the modern 2019 expansion (on the right).

Craft worker at the North Satellite looking up
October 2018: More than 325 craft workers were onsite at the peak of North Satellite construction and over 3,000 individual workers supported this modernization project.

Phase 1 opening at the North Satellite
July 2019: Phase 1 expanded the North Satellite by adding 180,000 square feet of new space, eight new gates, four new dining and retail options, and the Alaska Lounge.

North Satellite aerial showing structural steel on south gates
October 2019: Phase 2 focused on renovation of the original 1970s facility. Two 260-foot cranes, each weighing 100,000 pounds, were brought in to lift multiple structural steel trusses forming the roof of the Marketplace at N. The heaviest truss section weighed over 160,000 pounds, requiring both cranes to lift it into place.

Topping off ceremony at the North Satellite with big crane and steel beam
November 2019: Coined by the project team, the “seismic hug” describes the unique approach taken to reinforce the facility by building a steel structure around the perimeter of the old building. And, on November 6, 2019, we raised the roof — literally. The highest steel beam was placed in a topping off ceremony.

2019-2021: Phase 2 renovated the existing facility with seismic upgrades, remodeled 12 gates, built the new Marketplace at N, and improved building function and sustainability. 

Central core at the north satellite under construction
May 2020: While there were limited passengers inside the facility during the COVID-19 pandemic, the project team completed the most complicated passenger-facing sequences of work — the central core (elevator, escalator, stairs) and train station lobby. Resequencing this work reduced the overall project schedule by a month.

Marketplace at N under construction
February 2021: Did you know nearly 1,000 glass panels form the curtain wall for the Marketplace at N! This glass panel exterior improves the building’s energy performance and brings in natural light and views of the airfield. 

Early opening photo of Gates N9 and N10 at the North Satellite with Blackleaf sculpture
May 2021: The early opening of Gates N9 and N10 kicked off the final countdown to full operations at the new North Satellite. Originally expected to open in Q3 2021, the airport and its partners worked to open all North Satellite facilities as soon as possible to serve the increasing demand for air travel.

North Satellite project team handing over the key to ORAT team

The North Satellite Modernization project would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of the many craft specialists, designers, engineers, and subcontractors.  

Key project team partners include: 

  • Hensel Phelps – General Contractor/Construction Manager
  • AECOM – Designer
  • Hermanson – Mechanical Contractor/Construction Manager
  • VECA – Electrical Contractor/Construction Manager
  • Glumac – Commissioning Agent
  • Jacobs – Program Management and Controls
  • CBRE|Heery – Construction Management Support

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