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SOM-designed International Arrival Facility at Seattle’s Sea–Tac airport features the world’s largest aerial walkway

Airports

SOM-designed International Arrival Facility at Seattle’s Sea–Tac airport features the world’s largest aerial walkway

The 450,000-sf facility comprises an aerial walkway—the longest of its kind in the world—a Grand Hall, and a secure corridor to increase the number of international-capable gates. 


By Malcolm Crumbley, Associate Editor | June 2, 2022
Seattle-Tacoma Arrival Facility
Courtesy Dave Burk/Lucas Blair Simpson | SOM.

The Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)-designed International Arrivals Facility (IAF) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has opened, replacing a 50-year-old arrival facility. It is noted as the most complex building project in SEA’s 70+ year history.

The new facility expands capacity and speeds up the international arrivals process. Efficiency for travelers was very important during the design process, and the new structure is about five times the size of the original, and is meant to improve passenger experience.

Improving Customer Experience

One of the main goals for the new arrival facility was to improve passenger experience, and provide a welcoming environment for travelers. The IAF immerses travelers in the landscape of the surrounding Pacific Northwest.

As passengers walk the soaring aerial walkway, they have 360-degree views of Mount Rainier, as well as the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges. The walkway even spans across an active taxiline, which gives passengers the rare opportunity to watch planes pass underneath.

“This is an all-new welcome to our region and airport for an international traveler, and it's a dramatic improvement,” says Lance Lyttle, Managing Director of Sea–Tac. “Everything from the views out the windows, the iconic walkway, and the intuitiveness of the facility make this an exceptional customer experience.”

Grand Hall Artwork & Elements of the Northwest

The walkway connects to IAF’s Grand Hall, an expansive space with floor-to-ceiling windows. The hall is filled with artwork, including “Magnetic Anomaly,” a set of three kinetic artworks created by Ned Kahn, suspended overhead, and a colorful five-piece sculpture by Marela Zacarías, “Chalchiutlicue,” that floats above baggage claim carousels.

Other elements of Grand Hall are designed to reference the Pacific Northwest and its plant life, terrain, and topography. The hall features a terrazzo floor with local stones, and entry portals lined with Douglas fir. 

Passengers depart the Passport Control area, alongside a small forest of evergreen trees, which culminates at ground level in a landscaped creek with native ferns and plantings nested between granite slabs.  

The new and secure international corridor along the face of the existing A Concourse allows eight international wide-body aircraft gates direct access to the IAF, with dual use for domestic flights, bolstering the building’s future flexibility. 

Project Statement:

Working with the Port of Seattle, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and Clark Construction Group led the design-build team for the 450,000-square-foot project which included: The Miller Hull Partnership, EHDD (Formerly Patano Studio), KPFF Consulting Engineers, Schlaich Bergermann Partner, Integrated Design Engineers (IDE), PAE Engineering, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Stantec, Arup and Murase.

Seattle-Tacoma Arrival Facility int
Courtesy Dave Burk/Lucas Blair Simpson | SOM.
Seattle-Tacoma Arrival Facility Design
The interior design references elements of the Pacific Northwest–its plant life, terrain, and topography. Courtesy Dave Burk/Lucas Blair Simpson | SOM.
Seattle-Tacoma Arrival Facility ext 2
Courtesy Dave Burk/Lucas Blair Simpson | SOM.

 

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