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Stepping into the Modern SEA Airport! First Gates Open in Long-Awaited Modernized and Expanded North Satellite

COVID-19 and travel at SEA Airport More Information

Former 1970’s facility moves from darkness to light, sustainability, and traveler excellence
May 25, 2021

Just shy of marking its fifth decade of service, the North Satellite is stepping into the light -- literally and figuratively. Just in time to serve passengers returning to travel, the fully modernized facility adds new gates, open space and natural light, more restaurants and shops, Pacific Northwest-inspired art, and sustainability features like the use of collected rainfall. Passengers and media took the first peek today at a phased opening that modernizes and renovates the original building.

“The updated North Satellite is going to come as a surprise to long-time travelers. What was once dimly lit with low ceilings and few options is now bright, spacious, and welcoming,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins. "It’s so nice that you might arrive a little early to enjoy the art, food, and other amenities. And the whole experience celebrates the Pacific Northwest and our spectacular surroundings.”

One of the most dramatic reveals of today’s early two-gate opening is the immersive art Boundary that welcomes every traveler as they ascend from the satellite train level. Hanging 40 feet high, extending 25 feet off the wall, and stretching 85 feet across (about the wingspan of a Boeing 737), this sculpture is a life-sized version of the expanding root structure of an old-growth Western Red Cedar.

"Thanks to the creativity and vision of Northwest artists, the new North Satellite is filled with meaningful and memorable art that fits in well with this spectacular new facility,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck. “We are working to return the Port of Seattle to its leadership position among ports as an acclaimed regional arts and cultural center. Supporting local artists and public art has never been more important than now, and essential to advancing economic opportunity as part of the Port's COVID-19 equitable economic recovery strategy," said Steinbrueck.

The opening of two gates kicks off the final countdown to full operations. At the end of June, passengers will have access to 10 more gates, and a new airport destination, the Marketplace at N, with a stage for live performances, the final project art installation, and open seating with views of the airfield. Dining and retail options Tundra Taqueria, SEA Roast Coffee House, Pike & Pine, and Filson open this summer. Originally expected to open in the third quarter of 2021, the airport and its partners are working to open all North Satellite facilities as soon as possible to serve the increasing demand for air travel. See what’s coming next at the North Satellite Modernization webpage.

The full renovation and upgrade project reduces crowding, improves efficiency, and improves the customer experience. Increasing the facility’s capacity from 12 to 20 gates, nearly doubling the square footage of operational space, and tripling the amount of dining and retail offerings means more space to relax or discover something new. New facilities dramatically upgrade the passenger experience with details like enhanced Wi-Fi and 100 percent built-in seat chargers, as well as accessibility improvements like adult changing tables and a fully integrated pet relief area.

“We are excited to provide our passengers with a world-class travel experience at the new North Satellite concourse,” said Shane Jones, vice president of Real Estate and Airport Development, Alaska Airlines. “As we welcome back passengers, providing a comfortable, modern, and thoughtful experience in a space that also showcases our Northwest roots in our hometown hub is now more important than ever before.” 

Funding for the project comes from a combination of airline fees, Airport Development Fund, and Passenger Facility Charge revenues. As with virtually all airport projects, no Port of Seattle taxes will be used. The estimated cost for the Port’s portion of the project is $710 million.

Equitable Recovery

All Port of Seattle construction projects support an average of 1,300 full and part-time employees per month. During the pandemic, the Port and construction partners worked together to keep workers safely employed. The Port commits to ensuring that construction investments create opportunity everywhere, especially in underrepresented communities.

  • Out of 1.8 million labor hours expended on the project, more than 25 percent (462,000 hours) of work were performed by minorities and over 20 percent (415,000) by apprentices, ensuring that everyone is included in our recovery and helping to build the pipeline for future projects.
  • Over $100M of construction dollars were spent utilizing small business enterprises (over 20 percent), of which $16.5M (3.3 percent) went to minority- or women-owned businesses.

See how Port construction projects and partnerships with local labor and community groups create career pathways for local workers. 

Building Features

The original North Satellite opened on June 25, 1973, with no major upgrades in 44 years. At the same time, passenger volume grew almost tenfold, resulting in the need to upgrade the facility for modern travelers. The Port and Alaska Airlines opened Phase I of the project in 2019 with eight gates and a flagship Alaska Airlines lounge.

  • Funding for the project came from a combination of airline fees and Airport Development Fund and Passenger Facility Charge revenues. As with virtually all airport projects, no Port of Seattle taxes will be used.
  • The estimated cost for the Port’s portion of the North Satellite Modernization is $710 million. Alaska Airlines contributed an estimated $41 million to build the new lounge and employee spaces.
  • Iconic building design evoking movement of a naturally meandering river.
  • Operating 20 gates (8 new and 12 remodeled)
  • Plugin at every single one of our hold room seats

Environmental Highlights

Our commitment is to be the greenest and most energy efficient Port in North America. We designed and constructed a building that satisfies our passengers' needs while emphasizing sustainability. As a result of focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation, the North Satellite is one of the most sustainable projects in the airport’s history and is expected to achieve LEED Silver Certification.

  • Capturing rainwater off the roof to flush toilets will save 2.8 million gallons of potable water annually – equal to 4.5 Olympic swimming pools.
  • Achieved 76% recycling of construction waste diverted from landfills – that’s 20,000 tons – and nearly $21M of recycled materials were utilized on the project.
  • The North Satellite meets its energy needs through building energy conservation and renewable resources. Energy-efficient LED lighting and heating and cooling methods save approximately 1.7 million kWh annually – equal to the annual energy use of 170 homes. Moreover, SEA is the first airport to use renewable natural gas for heating our buildings. RNG is a low-carbon natural gas alternative produced most often from landfill waste. That means no new carbon emissions because it replaces fossil fuels and recycles existing carbon in the atmosphere.

Art Highlights

The North Satellite project brings 10 new pieces of museum-quality art to the airport, featuring local and nationally acclaimed artists reflecting the Pacific Northwest’s diverse environment, culture, spirit, people, and history.

  • Jacqueline Metz and Nancy Chew (Vancouver, B.C.), Cathedral, 2019: This etched glass artwork consists of 20 custom glass panels that encase the elevator to the mezzanine level to the Alaska Airlines Lounge and Nursing Suite. The two-part installation includes a bronze log at the base of the elevator that is intended to be interactive with travelers for touching, sitting, and playing.
  • John Grade (Seattle), Boundary, 2021: Hanging 40 feet high, extending 25 feet off the wall, and stretching 85 feet across (about the wingspan of a Boeing 737), this sculpture is a life-sized version of the expanding root structure of an old-growth Western Red Cedar.
  • Deborah Butterfield (Montana), Blackleaf, 2017: This sculpture illustrates the majestic figure of a horse cast in bronze from pieces of driftwood.
  • Krista Birnbaum (Texas), CANOPY, 2021: Coming to NSAT in July, CANOPY uses preserved mosses and stylized branch forms to reference the epiphyte-covered tree canopy of Pacific Northwest rainforests.
  • Cable Griffith (Seattle), Cascadia, 2020: Cascadia is a multi-paneled glass artwork of ambitious design that wraps around the entrance of the Concourse C satellite train station, improved as part of the overall North Satellite modernization. The digital-style art conveys the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest.
  • During the pandemic, SEA acquired 17 artworks to support the local art community, beautifying airport spaces, and diversifying the Port’s art collection with more women and minority artists. The airport displays five of those pieces in the North Satellite’s Nursing Suite, including:
    • Malayka Gormally, Grandmother and Grandson, Members of the Ethiopian community in Seattle, 2017
    • Malayka Gormally, Young Mother, Members of the Ethiopian community in Seattle, 2018
    • Leah M. Nguyen, Yellow Bear 15, 2014
    • Tyna Ontko, Garden, 2015
    • Lauren Boilini, As Above, So Below, 2020

Map of art in the North Satellite SEA Airport
Select image to enlarge

Contact

Perry Cooper | SEA Airport Media Officer
(206) 787-4923 | cooper.p@portseattle.org

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