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How It All Began Samuel Austin was an English carpenter who emigrated to the U.S. in 1872 and settled in Cleveland, Ohio. He started his own contracting business in 1878, The Samuel Austin Company, and his business and reputation for commercial and industrial construction contracting began. His son, Wilbert, graduated from what is now Case Western Reserve University as a mechanical engineer and soon joined his father’s firm. Wilbert designed. Samuel constructed. And the integrated design and construction process that became known as The Austin Method®, is exactly what U.S. industry needed as the country grew rapidly from coast to coast. Just five months after the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, the Samuel Austin & Son Company was formed, and Wilbert had a vision for how the Company could serve the aviation industry and become a key partner in the future of manned flight.

Cover Photos Wilbert J. Austin Aircraft: • Curtiss JN-4 Jenny • Consolidated B-24 Liberator • Boeing 747 • Boeing Delta IV Rocket • Airbus A320 • Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Projects: • Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, Buffalo, NY – 1916 • Consolidated Aircraft, Ft. Worth, TX – 1941 • The Boeing Company, Everett, WA – 1966 • The Boeing Company, Decatur, AL – 1997 • Airbus, Mobile, AL – 2013 • Northrop Grumman, St. Augustine, FL – 2014



n 2016, The Austin Company celebrated 100 years of service to the aviation, aerospace and defense industry. It is a centennial Austin shares with other aviation giants, as 2016 also marks the 100-year anniversary of The Boeing Company and Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine. By 1916, Austin was more than a quarter century old and had offices established across the country. The Company had built a reputation for innovation and resourcefulness. Widely recognized as the Father of Design Build, Austin was often called upon when clients wanted a single-source responsibility for their large, complex and logistically challenging projects — a differentiator that Wilbert J. Austin, president of continues today. The Austin Company 1924-1940 This book documents important milestones in an impressive legacy … the historical role that The Austin Company played in the first century of Aviation; 100 years of milestone projects serving this amazing industry. As you read through the stories shared in this book, consider that many of these projects were done without the technology and tools we have today. What Austin’s team had was a process, intellect and know-how to get things done, and an organization that allowed them to thrive, create and construct — and construct bigger, better and faster than ever before. The Austin professionals and craftsmen that accomplished these feats did so with a firm belief in what they could achieve, and they set about doing it. A process and approach that continues today. Austin did not document the contributors to the first 50 years, but I have been blessed to know some of the giants that worked on the initial Everett plant in 1966 and the milestone projects that came after that — giants on whose shoulders we stand today. It is easy to conclude that if you worked for Austin during the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s or ’90s, chances are great that you or someone near you worked on one of the projects featured in this book. They were “Company Projects” where Austinites from across the country joined together to build formidable teams that delivered these most impressive projects. They are a critical element in the bond that exists at The Austin Company. These projects and this industry are in our DNA. And it makes us stronger. I cannot imagine what Wilbert Austin envisioned for the Company’s role in aviation. I can imagine that he knew aviation had a great future, one that would benefit from the standards of craftsmanship and values on which Samuel Austin founded his company. It is a remarkable legacy that Austin continues to build as we enter our second century of excellence. Mike Pierce President, The Austin Company Building for a Century of Flight




ow do you acknowledge a century of inno­vation, craftsmanship and diligence? Austin’s design, engineering and construction pioneers innovated complicated building structures and systems to make the manufacture of aviation and aerospace facilities more efficient — and often in the face of the global pressures of world wars. There are thousands of specialists and generalists that made these projects successful. They were all pioneers and innovators who took great pride in what they accomplished as Austinites working in a field that remains exciting more than a century after its beginning. For

generations of Austin professionals, boarding a Boeing jet or seeing the Blue Angels at an ­airshow has held a special feeling — that they had a role in making that airplane. I must, however, single out some of my colleagues, past and present, that I would reference as the Subject Matter Experts for Austin in this industry. These SMEs might be those who subscribe to Aviation Week & Space Technology, or they are the go-to people when you must plan a large clear span building, an aircraft paint facility, or many other industry-specific facility requirements.

Workers pause for a moment to cheer during the construction of the Douglas hangar at Chicago O’Hare Airport in 1943. ii

The Douglas hangar in Oklahoma City’s airport in 1943.

Acknowledgments must begin with Wilbert J. Austin. At the dawn of aviation, Wilbert had a vision that married Austin’s unique resources with an industry that had limitless potential. He was right. Ultimately, Austin’s history did not record the names of those key players that implemented Wilbert’s vision during the first fifty years. I am blessed, however, to have known some of the key players in the second fifty years, including, but not limited to, the names I share below. The second fifty years began with a most significant project and milestone — the development of Boeing’s Everett, Washington, complex for the assembly of the 747. Jim Peterson, retired Austin vice president of construction, provided the genius behind Building for a Century of Flight

many construction innovations that were borne in the original Everett plant and a long series of follow-on projects. A true professional and gentleman, Jim has always been there to respond to questions and challenges. Austin’s Seattle office was home to many of these leaders, including Paul Chiado, Steve Lusk, Paul Arnett, Jim Burke and Warren Pugh. Austin’s experience, of course, goes far beyond Boeing and the Pacific Northwest. These leaders advanced Austin’s reputation and inspired additional leaders of the second fifty years in Austin, and I am pleased to take the opportunity here to record their contributions. There are too many to mention, but I would be remiss to not specifically acknowledge leaders including: Andy Carlson, Pat Brown, Wally iii

Edwards, Franco Eleuteri, Ron Everly, Bill Lewis, Ed Malinowski, Jerry Newman and Bill Ross. These leaders continued Austin’s industry work nationwide with Boeing, Lockheed Martin, McDonnell Douglas, and Northrop Grumman, among many others. The 1980s and ’90s saw a period where new technologies in aircraft painting and environmental regulations drove a series of new strip and paint facilities. Bill Niksch and Frank Harmon got Austin involved in innovative solutions that improved results at much lower capital and operating costs, greatly expanding Austin’s aviation business for both private and government sectors. Donna Lorenzen has now taken over the subject matter expert role and continues to advance Austin’s position in aircraft paint facilities. Mark Schluender pioneered chemical milling systems for aircraft and rocket parts and ensured that Austin was much sought after for these unique and challenging projects. Today’s leaders, including Jim Cathcart, Greg Clamp, Matt Eddleman, Donna Lorenzen,

Steve Lovell, Jim Martin, Wes Neill, Ken Stone, Jim Wagner and Dan Weigandt are continuing this work nationwide, including projects featured in this book for Airbus, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, among others. Charlie Stevens and Duane Lofdahl have successfully applied the lessons and innovations of the legacy innovators and current Austin leaders, and applied them to Austin’s most recent work in Florida for Northrop Grumman and Embraer. Since Wilbert envisioned the Company’s role in this market, each subsequent generation of Austin professionals has “stood on the shoulders of giants” in creating innovative solutions to these demanding facilities. So, Eric, Omar, Matt, Mark, Mike, Jason, Billiejo, Ernesto and all the others who feel the same rush when they smell jet fuel and step out onto the tarmac, what will your legacy be? Go build it. Mike Pierce President, The Austin Company

The first truss is lifted at Northrop Grumman’s Building 100 site in St. Augustine, Florida.




ne hundred years ago, in 1916, The Austin Company began design and construction of its first of many aircraft assembly plants — the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company plant in Buffalo, New York. This was just the beginning of a long list of innovative and successfully designed and constructed aircraft facilities — complex facilities routinely completed on a fast-track basis. Austin’s many innovations along the way contributed to the success of our clients by enabling them to operate in more efficient environments, optimize the flexibility of their operations, and meet aggressive schedules. Austin architects, engineers and constructors devised many innovations for the aviation sector since its inception, such as bifold hangar doors, fiberglass wall panels for WWII bomber plants that saved metal, induced airflows to improve ventilation in large plants, rolling work platforms to speed schedules, and more. It is a proud history. Austin has aviation in our DNA. While Samuel Austin was our founder and established high standards of ethics, values and quality in our work, his son Wilbert was the innovator and visionary for aviation. Tragically, Wilbert died in a plane crash in Chicago in 1940, but by then, the DNA was well established. Austin has held a formative role in this dynamic and ever-­ changing industry: airplanes, airports, engines, hangars, flight kitchens, cargo facilities, rockets and satellites. The Company created these facilities in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Australia, Greece, the United Kingdom, Japan and other locations. In 100 years, manned flight has evolved from single-engine biplanes to supersonic travel, satellites and space tourism. Design and construction have gone from pencils, linen and slide rules to lasers, GPS and integrated software platforms. Some things remain constant, however; a passion for this industry, an excitement toward how this market inspires and challenges us to innovate and achieve higher goals, and an appreciation of how this market drives us to technical excellence. This is where the DNA shows up and it carries over into every market and industry Austin serves. The historical timeline that follows highlights some of the many aviation and aerospace projects Austin has completed over the past 100 years. It is a proud legacy that Austin carries on in our daily work. Building for a Century of Flight


Milestones of Excellence 1916






THE BOEING COMPANY Austin Delivers for Boeing’s Flying Fortress

THE BOEING COMPANY Home of the 747 & a New Era of Travel

MCDONNELL DOUGLAS Fast-Track Plant for the F-18 Hornet

LOCKHEED MARTIN Designing & Constructing Classified Facilities for the “Skunk Works®”

UNITED AIRPORT Airport Terminal and Hangar in Burbank


THE BOEING COMPANY Expanding into a New Generation of Jumbo Jets

MCDONNELL DOUGLAS (BOEING) Designing & Constructing the Assembly Facility for the C-17 Airlifter

THE BOEING COMPANY Boeing’s Everett Expansion: Building 777’s Heaven












CHRYSLER TECHNOLOGIES Strip & Paint Hangar for the C-5 Galaxy

SEA LAUNCH COMPANY Commercial Satellite Launching Complex

NORTHROP GRUMMAN Start of Continuous Services at Space Park Campus

AIRBUS Building Airbus a Sweet Home in Alabama

NORTHROP GRUMMAN St. Augustine’s “Building 100”

THE BOEING COMPANY Launching Into the 21st Century

UNITED STATES AIR FORCE C-17 Globemaster III Corrosion Control & Paint Hangar

THE BOEING COMPANY Building 58 Paint Hangar Modernization

NORTHROP GRUMMAN Fast-Track to Excellence

MELBOURNE AIRPORT AUTHORITY/EMBRAER Austin’s Aerospace History Enters Its Second Century






Building for a Century of Flight


Table of Contents Foreword i Acknowledgments ii Introduction v Milestones of Excellence vi Taking Flight


Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation — Buffalo, New York

The Austin Company Takes Flight


The Boeing Company — Renton, Washington

Austin Delivers for Boeing’s Flying Fortress


Consolidated Aircraft Corporation — Ft. Worth, Texas

From Stockyards to the Sky Building for a Smaller World and Global Leadership

11 15

The Boeing Company — Everett, Washington

Home of the 747 and a New Era of Air Travel


The Boeing Company — Everett, Washington

Expanding into a New Generation of Jumbo Jets — the 767


International Projects

Expanding Austin’s Reach Across the Globe


McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) — Long Beach, California

Designing and Constructing the Assembly Facility for the C-17 Airlifter


Lockheed Martin— Palmdale, California

Designing and Constructing Classified Facilities for the “Skunk Works®” 33 The Boeing Company — Everett, Washington

Boeing’s Everett Expansion: Building for the 777 A New Millennium

39 43

The Boeing Company — Decatur, Alabama

Launching into the 21st Century


Airbus — Mobile, Alabama

Designing Airbus a Sweet Home in Alabama


Northrop Grumman — Melbourne, Florida

Fast-Track to Excellence


Northrop Grumman — St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine’s “Building 100”


Melbourne Airport Authority / Embraer — Melbourne, Florida

Austin’s Aerospace History Enters Its Second Century


The Austin Company

The Future of Aerospace Manufacturing Facility Design and Construction


References and Information 73 Aviation, Aerospace and Defense Client Listing 75 Sources 76, 77


Taking Flight “So it is 1916, and Wilbert Austin asks you to move

to Buffalo for the next six months and in that time design, engineer and construct a building for manufacturing aircraft, putting about 12 football

fields under one roof, with the war effort depend-

ing on you. The genius of Samuel and Wilbert Austin was that they had standardized much of the work, so that your focus would be on the exe-

cution and not the creation of the basic plan. That standardization allowed just-in-time shipments to

the job site (by rail or ship and later by local truck) of prefabricated steel trusses, materials, tools and equipment.

That standardization was an innovation that played an important role in the industrial power of the U.S. as it became a world economic power.”

—Mike Pierce President



Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation — Buffalo, New York

The Austin Company Takes Flight


y 1916, The Austin Method® had been a standard operating practice for more than a decade at The Austin Company in Cleveland, Ohio. The concept of combining design and construction services within one firm was more than just unique, it was proving to be tremendously successful. In the development of manufacturing sites across the Midwest, the concept was tried and true. And, with an enormous project with Glenn Curtiss (the “Father of American Naval Aviation”), The Austin Method® was about to propel the innovative company into aviation history. The war in Europe had been raging since the summer of 1914 and the United States was preparing for the possibility of joining its allies against Germany in World War I. Despite the fact that airplanes were still very new, forces on both sides of the war recognized their potential power in battle. It was imperative that the U.S. Army and Navy have airplanes and pilots ready. In 1916, Curtiss’s company — the Curtiss Building for a Century of Flight

Aeroplane and Motor Corporation — was selected by the U.S. government to begin manufacturing planes that would be used to train Army and Navy pilots. Curtiss was a visionary in the aviation industry and he understood that his existing plant in Hammondsport, New York, was too small to handle the production load. He purchased a 28-acre site on Elmwood Avenue in

Glenn Curtiss, founder of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation. 3

Buffalo, New York and was eager to get started with construction of the facility. Curious about Austin’s ad in a 1916 edition of The Literary Digest, a Curtiss representative traveled 190 miles west to Cleveland to learn more about the firm’s ability to rapidly — and cost-effectively — design and build large manufacturing facilities. Curtiss was looking to partner with a firm that could deliver Results, not Excuses.® After the meeting, The Austin Company committed to Curtiss that they would design and construct over 600,000 square feet of facility within 120 days. “We were one of the few companies in the U.S. that would integrate design and construction,” explains Mike Pierce, president of The Austin Company. “It was wartime and production moved quickly. There was an unbelievably aggressive schedule.”

As design of the buildings was continuing, construction began in an area covering almost 10 city blocks in Buffalo, New York. The project included design and installation of heating,

The Austin Method® Originated in 1904, The Austin Method® design-build approach provides a single-source solution for all facility planning, design and construction services and assumes undivided responsibility for budget, schedule and quality. This method conserves two of the most precious project resources — time and money.

Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation.


Saturday Evening Post ad, July 1918.

plumbing and sewage systems; lighting and equipment installation. By early 1917, Austin delivered on its promise to complete the project within 120 days. In fact, the firm beat the deadline — having the buildings ready in 90 days. It was an astonishing feat — designing and erecting a manufacturing facility that was nearly 14 acres under one roof. Glenn Curtiss, owner of the Curtiss Aero­ plane and Motor Corporation, was ready to begin production of the JN-4 aircraft needed to train WWI pilots. More than 18,000 workers filled the Buffalo complex — and for more than a year and a half, the team assembled nearly 7,000 JN-4 (“Jenny” and “Canuck”) airplanes that were sold to the U.S. Air Service and Royal Flying Corps (Canada and Great Britain). Although the JN-4 was not Building for a Century of Flight

Like the famous “Jenny,” Curtiss’s sprawling aircraft plant in Buffalo was so well designed and adaptable that it continued to serve as an aircraft production plant through World War II as well. In its 100-year history, the building has been home to: Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company Curtiss-Wright Corporation Bell Aircraft Corporation M. Wile Clothing Co. Home Depot


used in combat, it is estimated that 95 percent of American and Canadian WWI pilots were trained in the “Jenny” and “Canuck” airplanes. The JN-4 was a twin-seat dual-control biplane which featured a 90 hp Curtiss OX-5 V8 engine which allowed the airplane to reach a top speed of 75 mph and a service ceiling of 6,500 feet. Pilot training was enhanced with the JN-4 because of its tractor propeller and maneuverability. The “Jenny” was also easily adaptable — allowing it to be modified to serve as the first aerial ambulance during WWI and through the 1920s. In Canada, the JN-4 was adapted in winter months to feature a ski undercarriage so that the airplane could be used year-round. Following WWI, civilians took to the air in the thousands of surplus “Jennys” that were

sold by the U.S. Army. In fact, Charles Lindbergh bought a JN-4 in May 1923. The airplanes were extremely popular for stunt flying and aerobatic displays during the barnstorming era of the 1920s. The “Jenny” was also being used for commuter services, photo-mapping, policing, forest patrol and real estate work.

The JN-4, or “Jenny”, twin-seat dual-control biplane.

Glenn Curtiss: The Father of American Naval Aviation Glenn H. Curtiss was absolutely fascinated with flight. In fact, he dedicated his career to building America’s aviation industry. His early career focused on racing and building bicycles and then later developing motorcycles. Curtiss began manufacturing engines for airships in 1904 and a few years later joined the Aerial Experiment Association, a research group founded by Alexander Graham Bell that was building flying machines. As the aviation industry began, Curtiss’s name was connected with remarkable “firsts.” He made the first officially witnessed flight in North America, won a race at the world’s first international air race in France, and made the first long-distance flight in the U.S. By the time Curtiss was 38 years old (in 1916), his amazing accomplishments and reputation as an aviation visionary awarded him a contract with the U.S. government to build thousands of airplanes that would be used to train WWI pilots. His company, the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation, built aircraft for the U.S. Army and Navy, and prior to WWI, Curtiss’s seaplane experiments led to advances in naval aviation.


The Boeing Company — Renton, Washington

Austin Delivers for Boeing’s Flying Fortress


y the mid-1920s, The Austin Company had found vast success as a single-source, combining design, engineering and construction under a single contract, dubbed The Austin Method®. By then, the Company had established offices in industrial centers across the country and had become a partner of many industries building efficient factories to serve the rapidly growing population centers west of the Mississippi. Based in part on its project for The Boeing Company in 1924, Austin opened an office near Seattle, Washington. It can be assumed that Wilbert Austin saw in William Boeing a man who was going to play a major role in the future of this industry, and Wilbert wanted to be there to Building for a Century of Flight

ensure Austin’s position in the industry. And so, while the Seattle office was busy with miscellaneous projects for Boeing and serving the many industries growing in the Pacific Northwest, it was in 1936 that another milestone project was awarded to Austin, when the Company was hired

The B-17. 7

Employees gather near the 5,000th B-17 made at Boeing’s Plant 2 in Renton, Washington.

to design and construct The Boeing Company’s legendary “Plant 2” in nearby Renton. Boeing had just received its first production contract to build the B-17 Flying Fortress, but its existing Plant 1 wasn’t equipped with the metal stamping equipment necessary to build the big bombers. It needed a huge, modern assembly line to fulfill the contract. Residents in the area were anxious to keep the company in Renton, so a local immigrant farmer, Giuseppe Desimone, sold a large tract of his land near Plant 1 to The Boeing Company for one dollar. And by May 15, 1936, The Austin Company had begun construction of the first phase, a 60,000-square-foot plant that cost $250,000. Just a few months later, raw materials and parts were being barged up the Duwamish Waterway to the plant’s back door. With the Flying Fortress validated and orders piling in, another 600,000 square feet were added by early 1940 to expand the B-17 capacity. The added capacity also enabled Boeing to land a contract to produce 380 Douglas DB-7 light bombers. Austin’s work at Plant 2 involved continuous expansion. By the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the plant had been expanded to almost 1.8 million square feet. Ultimately, at its peak production during World

War II, the plant’s staff had grown to 30,000 employees working in three shifts. In a single day in April 1944, Plant 2 assembled 16 B-17s — an astonishing feat. Altogether, the facility built 6,981 of the mammoth B-17s during the war. The Flying Fortress was a heavy bomber used primarily in strategic precision bombing raids of German industrial and military targets. Used to a lesser extent in the Pacific campaign, the B-17 was nonetheless instrumental in raids on shipping and airfields in the Pacific Theater as well. Plant 2’s significance in the war effort is indisputable. In May 1940, when the country’s aircraft industry was producing about 160 airplanes monthly, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a pronouncement that the industry needed to increase its production to more than 4,000 planes each month to meet the demands of the U.S. military and its allies, France and Great Britain. The Boeing Company’s Plant 2, thanks to its unique design and quick construction on the part of The Austin Company, was able to rise to that occasion. After World War II, Plant 2 continued to be a vital manufacturing facility for The Boeing Company. In addition to the versatile B-17, Plant 2 also was responsible for the production of the B-29 Superfortress, and eventually the first two


Hiding in Plain Sight The Boeing Company’s Plant 2, constructed between 1936 and 1941 by The Austin Company, became so important to the war effort that there was great concern by the government that the plant would be targeted by enemy aircraft. In an effort to hide the massive facility from aerial view, an impressive display of camouflage was built. The 35-acre roof of the plant, under which 30,000 employees were producing as many as 300 bombers a month, was camouflaged to look like a normal suburban neighborhood of Seattle. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, under the guidance of Hollywood set designer John Stewart Detlie, built fake clapboard and fabric houses and installed fake streets,

Building for a Century of Flight

sidewalks and “trees” made of board and mesh, which were fastened to the roof with wires. A bogus street sign on one corner read “Synthetic Street and Burlap Blvd.”


William Boeing While the Boeing name is immediately recognized in American aviation history, its namesake started his career in the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest. It was that career, though, that led William Boeing to his fascination and passion for aviation — and the creation of The Boeing Corporation. In 1909, Boeing served as president of Greenwood Timber Company and had been experimenting with boat design. He traveled to Seattle, Washington, and attended the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, where he saw a manned flying machine for the first time and became fascinated with aviation. Boeing purchased an airplane from the Glenn L. Martin Company and received flying lessons from the aviation pioneer himself. When the plane needed repair, Boeing was told that replacement parts would not become available for months. He told his friend Cdr. George Conrad Westervelt (U.S. Navy), “We could build a better plane ourselves and build it faster.” Westervelt agreed and they collaborated on the development of the B&W Seaplane, B-47 Stratojets, 278 B-52 Stratofortresses, and 58 Boeing 377 Stratocruiser airliners. Plant 2’s design allowed for Boeing’s vision of the future design of aircraft. The design of an aircraft facility is largely driven by the wingspan and tail height of the aircraft. The B-17 has

an amphibian biplane that performed exceptionally well. Boeing decided to go into the aircraft business and started the Pacific Aero Products Co. in an old boat works on the Duwamish River near Seattle. When America entered World War I in April 1917, Boeing changed the name of his company to The Boeing Airplane Company and obtained orders from the U.S. Navy for 50 planes. Following World War I, the company focused on commercial aircraft, securing contracts to supply airmail service and built a successful airmail operation and later passenger service that evolved into United Airlines. Through Boeing’s guidance, the small airplane manufacturing company grew into a significant corporation of related industries. In the mid-1930s, Boeing sold his interests in The Boeing Airplane Company and worked on other business ventures. His interest in aviation continued, though, and he volunteered as a consultant to The Boeing Airplane Company during World War II. Boeing died in 1956, living long enough to see the growth of the aviation industry from biplanes to jets. a wingspan of 104 feet. The Stratofortress, introduced almost 20 years after the work at Plant 2 was started, has a wingspan of 185 feet. Ten years later, in Everett, the 747 was being developed with a wingspan of 195 feet.


Consolidated Aircraft Corporation — Ft. Worth, Texas

From Stockyards to the Sky


n 1939, the United States’ aircraft industry ranked 41st among industries in the United States. By the end of World War II, our country’s aircraft industry rose to first place in the United States — and in the world. The growth of the aircraft industry during WWII is astonishing. From January 1, 1940, to VE Day (August 14, 1945), more than 300,000 military aircraft were produced for the U.S. military and Allies. Nearly 275,000 of those aircraft were built after the attack on Pearl Harbor. By the end of 1943, more than two million U.S. men and women worked in shifts around the clock in 81 production plants assembling aircraft bodies, engines and propellers. According to the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission, Building for a Century of Flight

the total factory space, including engine and propeller production, was 175 million square feet. The dollar value of the industry’s 1939 output rose from $225 million to nearly $16 billion in 1944.


Consolidated’s bomber facility in Ft. Worth was completed 100 days ahead of schedule.

In May 1940, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that he wanted the country’s aircraft industry to produce 50,000 planes annually, the industry had only been producing about 2,000 each year. Airplane manufacturers suddenly needed to turn out 4,000 planes every month to meet the demands of the U.S. military and its allies, France and Great Britain. Consolidated Aircraft Corporation was one of those manufacturers — and in 1941, it looked to triple its production capacity beyond its San Diego facility. It needed an additional plant to help fill orders for tens of thousands of B-24 bombers and C-87 transport planes. Consolidated Aircraft chose an ideal design and construction partner that transformed a stockyard in Ft. Worth, Texas, into a state-ofthe-art facility in just 10 months. That partner was The Austin Company and its method of combining the design and construction phases had already been successfully proven throughout the aircraft industry.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 18, 1941, and in less than a year the Ft. Worth site would surpass the design and c­ onstruction accomplishments of previous aircraft facilities Austin had built. This plant would be the largest unobstructed indoor working area in the world; it would be windowless and a pioneering example of controlled-conditions design. The Austin Company designed and built the 4.9 million square-foot facility that manufactured ­thousands of B-24 bombers during WWII.


The 4.9 million square-foot facility would be the largest air-conditioned plant in the world, as well as the largest installation of insulated metal panel construction. It was also the first building to combine fluorescent lighting, light-reflecting fiberglass walls and ceiling, and a white concrete floor for a floor-to-ceiling approach to enhance illumination. And, Austin completed the bomber facility 100 days ahead of schedule. Initially the plant was planned only as an assembly facility. With the plant ready three months ahead of schedule, Consolidated Aircraft asked Austin to add a parts factory to the site. Nearly one year after groundbreaking, on April 17, 1942, the first B-24 (Liberator) rolled off of the assembly line. In a two-year span, more than 3,000 Liberators and C-87 cargo transporters were assembled at the Ft. Worth plant. Later in the war, a limited number of B-32 heavy bombers (Dominator) were also built at the site. More than 19,000 B-24s were produced by four manufacturers (Consolidated Aircraft, Douglas, Ford and North American) in five plants across the country. According to records from 1942 and 1943, there was more aluminum, aircrew and effort put into production of the B-24 than any other aircraft in history. It was estimated that at one time, one Liberator was being produced every 100 minutes.

Building for a Century of Flight

Women and Warplanes On September 28, 1942, President Roosevelt toured the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation facility and a Ft. Worth newspaper noted: “This bomber assembly plant contains what is probably the longest assembly line in the world — 3,000 feet, in a building 4,000 feet long. It employs 8,500 people, 20 percent of whom are women. It is expected that the percentage of women will later become 70 percent.” “Rosie the Riveter” became the iconic image of the women who proudly and eagerly filled the roles needed at aircraft assembly plants across the country. More than 310,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry in 1943, representing 65 percent of the industry’s total workforce (compared to just one percent in the prewar years). The B-24 bomber saw extensive service throughout Europe, the Pacific, Africa and the Middle East during WWII. Compared to its predecessor, the B-17, the B-24 had a longer range, higher top speed, heavier bomb load, improved wing design and performance, and tricycle landing gear. The Liberator had a 3,000-mile range, 35,000-foot ceiling, averaged 300 mph, and was powered by four 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney turbocharged radial engines. In addition to the B-24 production in Ft. Worth, Consolidated Aircraft built the C-87 Liberator Express. In 1942, there was an immediate demand for heavy cargo and personnel transport planes, and Consolidated Aircraft 13

quickly designed the C-87, basing it on the B-24 bomber. Conversions of the bomber included: • Eliminating gun turrets and other armaments • Strengthening the cargo floor, including a floor running through the bomb bay • Adding a cargo door to the port side of the fuselage, and placing a row of windows along the sides of the fuselage • Replacing the bombardier compartment with a hinged metal cap to allow for front cargo loading The C-87 could carry 20 to 25 passengers or 12,000 pounds of cargo. The Ft. Worth plant built 287 C-87 planes for the U.S. Army Air Forces. For more than 70 years since the end of WWII, the Ft. Worth facility has served the aircraft industry. Its original design has accommodated decades of change in products and ­ manufacturing techniques. It remains in use today by Lockheed Martin to design and build the Joint Strike Fighter. The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program is the U.S. Department of Defense’s initiative for producing affordable next-generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Major Reuben H. Fleet In 1923, aviation pioneer Major Reuben H. Fleet formed the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation. The company was formed when Fleet took over Gallaudet Aircraft’s business and then acquired the rights to Dayton-Wright Company designs from General Motors. Fleet had served as second in command in charge of training U.S. pilots during World War I and later organized the first Airmail Service. As a leader in the aviation industry, he had a significant role in developing the first supercharger which allowed planes to achieve faster speeds at higher altitudes. He is also credited with organizing the development of the first military parachute. At Consolidated Aircraft, Fleet set out to produce a safer trainer airplane. The company manufactured the PT-1 “Trusty” and the NY-1 “Husky” which were used by U.S. and foreign militaries during the 1920s and 1930s.


Building for a Smaller World and Global Leadership “The impact of the 747 was that it made the world

smaller. More people could get to more places they could never drive to. Passenger comfort was

at an all-time high. Its impact on the future of aviation cannot be overstated.

And while the 747 made the world smaller, Austin’s reputation as the firm who built Everett grew larger.”

—Mike Pierce President



The Boeing Company — Everett, Washington

Home of the 747 and a New Era of Air Travel


n 1968, the door to global air travel was flung wide open by The Boeing Company. And that door — which happened to be close to the size of an NFL football field — was just one incredible feature of the 1.9-million square-foot Boeing 747 assembly plant that The Austin Company designed and built in Everett, Washington. Fifty years ago, Austin signed a contract with Boeing to design and construct an aircraft assembly facility that would be home to the world’s then largest commercial jetliner — the 747. When completed in 1967, the facility covered over 43 acres in a suburb north of Seattle, with an astonishing 205,600,000 cubic feet in Building for a Century of Flight

volume. It was, and remains, the world’s largest usable volume building. Construction of the plant is legendary. In April 1966, Boeing had a $525 million order from Pan Am to deliver 25 jumbo jets. And Boeing’s CEO, Bill Allen, was determined to fill the order and increase demand for the planes.


To build the planes, however, Boeing needed a plant that could house the manufacturing of a plane that was two-and-a-half times larger than its then largest jetliner, the 727. Its Renton, Washington, and Boeing Field facilities fell far short of meeting that requirement. By late spring 1966, Boeing selected a 700acre site adjacent to a Seattle-area airport (Paine Field) and hired its long-time design and construction partner, The Austin Company, to construct what would become the largest manufacturing facility in the world. Beyond the enormity of building a facility that was the size of Disneyland, thousands of construction workers and hundreds of trade subcontractors overcame tremendous obstacles to achieve the accelerated schedule. Those obstacles included clearing, draining and leveling hundreds of acres of forest; developing a pedestrian tunnel system that would total over 3,000 linear feet beneath the facility; constructing tracks that would link the plant to railway services to deliver construction materials; and persevere through windstorms, mudslides, 67 continuous days of rain, and snowstorms.

According to a Daily Herald (Everett) article of Jan. 24, 2016, retired Boeing engineer Joe Sutter said the Everett site was a wilderness. “It looked like a huge endeavor, because there was no main road from I-5 over to that site,” he explained. “There was no railroad system up the hill, and there was a big forest with bears in it and a swamp. So, (Boeing’s project director Bayne Lamb) had a helluva job.” Aside from horrendous weather, there were logistical challenges throughout the project, said retired Austin employee, Jim Burke. Burke served as a buyer for the expansion project and he was tasked with purchasing all of the steel and materials required for the temporary electrical services, as well as the building’s electrical services. “One of the more memorable experiences of that project was when 12 rail cars of blue steel from Austin’s Bliss Mill went missing,” Burke recalled. “We were tracking all steel deliveries and knew that 12 rail cars, with the majority of the subassembly building columns, had left Bliss Mill (Salem, Ohio), but had not arrived to the jobsite as scheduled.”

Snowstorms and weeks of rain challenged the crews working on Boeing’s enormous project in Everett.


The fuselage of the first 747 being assembled in the Boeing plant in Everett, Washington.

Quick Facts: Boeing’s Everett Plant • The factory has its own fire ­department, security force, fully equipped medical clinic, day care center, fitness center, electrical substations and water treatment plant. • More than 1,300 bicycles/tricycles are used by employees throughout the facility.

After a few days of checking with the railroad with no success, Austin rented a private aircraft and pilot and sent Burke into the sky to follow the railroad from the jobsite. “We’d go all the way back to Ohio, if necessary, to find the missing steel,” he said. Two days later, Burke spotted the blue steel on a railroad siding just outside of Missoula, Montana. The plane landed at a nearby airstrip and Burke rented a taxi to the railroad siding. He tracked down the siding master and convinced him to

• The rail running uphill to the factory is the steepest active standard-gauge railroad in the U.S. It is managed by BNSF. • More than 150,000 people tour the facility annually. get an engine to the siding to reconnect the rail cars to get the steel moving again to Everett. As progress was made in the con­struction of the facility in late 1966, Boeing brought in its first 113 production workers on Jan. 3, 1967. The

Several 747s are near completion in this 1969 photo.

Building for a Century of Flight


group became known as “The Incredibles” as they began the initial phases of building the first 747 while construction of the gigantic facility preceded just steps ahead of them. The Daily Herald article included observations from a retired Boeing machinist, Paul Staley. “There were times you’d come into the machine shop, and it’d be filled up with fog because the building was still open at one end,” he said. “We built the factory, the jigs and the airplane all at one time.” At the time of the factory’s completion, the building measured 1.9 million square feet and featured a state-of-the-art circulation system. Because of the temperate climate in the Seattle area, the facility doesn’t have climate control for temperature. Instead, the doors are opened in the summer on extremely hot days, and in the winter, more than one million lightbulbs and the body heat of 15,000 employees keep the work areas comfortable. By the end of September 1968, Boeing’s 747 prototype rolled out of the Everett plant to

cheers of a crowd that had gathered to see the huge jetliner. Inside the plant, efforts continued by thousands of employees to assemble the growing number of 747s that had been ordered. By late 1967, the company had orders for 88 of the new 747s and was projected to build 400 by 1975. In 2016, 50 years after construction began in a forest 22 miles north of Seattle, Boeing’s Everett aircraft facility remains the world’s largest building by volume. Not only has Austin’s design and construction stood the test of time, the facility has since more than doubled in size — to 5.5 million square feet (472 million cubic feet in volume). Austin was Boeing’s chosen partner for Everett’s expansion projects that led to the production of the 767 and 777 jetliners. Boeing ushered in a new era of jetliner that opened the door to global travel for billions of people since the first 747 left the runway in early February 1969, and again Austin delivered the facilities to make it happen.

Quick Facts: Boeing’s 747 • Length: 225 feet, with a tail as tall as a six-story building • Wingspan: 196 feet • Range: 6,089 miles • Nicknames: “Jumbo Jet” or “Queen of the Skies” • In the summer of 1965, during a fishing trip with Boeing CEO Bill Allen, Pan Am’s founder, Juan Trippe, asked Allen to build a jet that was twice as big as the 707. In the mid-1960s airport traffic was becoming congested and Pan Am believed that fewer, larger jetliners would help the company operate more efficiently. • The project timeline was so aggressive that the 747 prototype was built before the building’s roof was finished.


The Boeing Company — Everett, Washington

Expanding into a New Generation of Jumbo Jets — the 767


ith double-digit inflation, high unemployment, an oil embargo and energy crisis, the early years of the 1970s dealt a wicked blow to Boeing and the aerospace industry. Orders for jumbo jets dwindled and Boeing witnessed its workforce plummet from over 100,000 employees in 1967 to under 39,000 in 1971. It was perseverance and ingenuity through those turbulent economic times, however, that enabled Boeing to soar into the 1980s. As airlines looked for more fuel-efficient jets, Boeing responded in the mid-1970s by designing two new jets, the 757 and twin-aisle 767. While the 757 would be assembled in its Renton, Washington, plant (constructed by Austin), Boeing chose its Everett 747 factory to be the home of the innovative 767. Although the Everett, Washington, site boasted the largest usable space building in the world — at more Building for a Century of Flight

than 205,600,000 cubic feet — it needed to grow to support the 767’s assembly. Boeing’s 747s had been rolling out of the plant since 1968, but the era was beckoning a new wide-body commercial airliner that featured the advantages of fuel efficiency and ­digital avionics. United was the first airline to purchase the 767 — with a $1 billion order for 30 jets in mid-July 1978.


The Austin Company, Boeing’s longtime design and construction partner, was selected to expand the Everett factory — a 43-acre building that it had constructed over a twoyear period in the late 1960s. With its process of single-responsibility design and construction, Austin set out in 1979 to increase the facility’s footprint by 45 percent — to more than 63 acres. The factory volume would increase to more than 298,000,000 cubic feet. Austin’s engineers and architects understood the complexity of assembling jumbo jets; just 10 years earlier they had established two assembly lines that stretched over 43 acres and utilized overhead cranes to build Boeing’s 747. Austin senior vice president Matt Eddleman says, “Design­ ing and constructing aerospace facilities is in our DNA. We’ve been building factories for the aviation industry since 1916.”

The 767 series includes passenger planes, freighters and military aerial tankers.

The Company has a proud 100-year history in the aerospace industry and Eddleman says Austin architects, engineers and constructors bring deep knowledge and experience to every assignment. Jim Peterson was Austin’s construction manager for the 767 expansion project. “Boeing had

Boeing’s 767 made its debut in August 1981. (Photo: Boeing)


Quick Facts: Boeing 767 • Large-size, long-range wide-body twinengine jetliner • Can carry 218 passengers • Range is 6,890 miles • Production began in 1979 and continues today in these variants: o 767-300F (Freighter) o Boeing 767-300ER (Extended Range) o KC-46 Pegasus (military aerial refueling and strategic military transport jet)

More than 3 million components are needed to build a 767. State-of-the-art ­technology was used to track and distribute the components throughout Boeing’s Everett facility. (photo: airwaysnews.com)

a firm date to deliver the first 767, so we set a schedule to meet that deadline,” he explains. Peterson said there were about 500 employees assigned to the project. “We were working on one extension that was 1,000 feet long, and then another extension that was 600 feet,” he adds. Using Austin’s long-successful method of combining design, engineering and construction, the expansion began with the building that housed the Gemcor machine, an automatic riveting machine Boeing uses to apply the rivets to the plane’s wings. Peterson explains that with the tight deadline to get the first 767 produced, it was essential to erect that building first. For this expansion project, not only would Austin need to build a third assembly line, but Boeing also needed state-of-the-art technology to allow for accurate parts distribution.

Building for a Century of Flight

Computerized systems were installed to track components and move them quickly and efficiently throughout the plant from the point where they were unloaded to their final destination along the assembly line. A network of overhead long-span cranes is used throughout the facility, moving plane sections along the gigantic production areas. Seven workstations were used in the assembly process, and every four days, partially completed 767s were moved from one workstation to the next using the overhead cranes. “Boeing can move plane parts and sections throughout the facility without any of the parts touching the floor,” Peterson explains. Completed in 1979, Boeing’s 767 plant began producing the new jumbo jet, rolling out its first plane in August 1981. By that time, Boeing had received 173 orders from 17 customers.


Comparative Sizes of Boeing Commercial Aircraft Produced in Austin Buildings










International Projects

Expanding Austin’s Reach Across the Globe The Boeing Company’s globally recognized aircraft assembly plant in Everett, Washington, also brought global recognition to The Austin Company. As the company that designed and constructed the plant that built the industry-­ changing aircraft (the 747), Austin was sought ­after for its expertise in both design and construction. The company’s work with Boeing and other aerospace and defense industry leaders led it to a series of international projects. In 1976, Austin was hired to design and construct an aircraft overhaul and maintenance facility in Tehran, Iran. The project requirements included operational and support facilities, as well as site utilities. The project was stopped Building for a Century of Flight

prior to construction due to political unrest in Iran. In 1977, Austin teamed with General Electric, Westinghouse and Lockheed Martin on a comprehensive aircraft maintenance and overhaul base for military and commercial aircraft for Hellenic Aerospace in Tanagra, Greece. The 14-building complex, designed and constructed by Austin, featured a paint hangar, electronics depot, engine shops, engine test cells, and support facilities. In 1978, Austin designed and constructed a new aircraft strip and paint hangar for Alitalia Airlines at Leonardo Da Vinci Airport in Rome. The project featured robotic crane-mounted 25

Alitalia’s facility at Leonardo DaVinci Airport in Rome.

A rendering of the Kansai Wharf Terminal.


A view of the Hiroshima Airport in Mihara, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan.

work platforms, a custom-designed washing and stripping system, and foam deluge system for fire protection. In 1987, Austin and Kawasaki Heavy Industries led a consortium for the design and implementation of the baggage handling system at the new Kansai International Airport, along with a second project there in collaboration with MHS Architects and Planners for the design of a $230 million cargo terminal. This work led to several design projects over the subsequent years. Austin teamed with Yasui Architects and Engineers of Osaka and Miyahira Designers of

Okinawa for the design of a new $362 million passenger terminal and multipurpose cultural hall at Naha International Airport in Japan. Separately, Austin teamed again with MHS and another firm, Create Yamamoto, to design a new 228,000-square-foot passenger terminal with concourses and baggage handling at Hiroshima International Airport. Austin’s work with McDonnell Douglas resulted in the design of an aircraft maintenance training center for the United Arab Emirates air force in Abu Dhabi in 1991. In addition, Austin provided design services of facilities for the Royal Saudi air force, including a flight operations center, maintenance and logistics base, and the renovation and expansion of an expatriate housing campus at various locations in the Kingdom in 1992 and 1993. In 1993, Austin master-planned and developed a schematic design for a new maintenance base for Saudia, the national airline of Saudi Arabia, in Jeddah and Riyadh. Through these and other international projects throughout Europe and Central and South America, the world had indeed become smaller for Austin.

An artist’s rendition of the Saudia hangar, designed by The Austin Company.

Building for a Century of Flight


A rendition of the cargo facility at the Kansai International Airport.

The TACA Airlines (now Avianca El Salvador) hangar in El Salvador.


McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) — Long Beach, California

Designing and Constructing the Assembly Facility for the C-17 Airlifter


roduction of the C-17 Globemaster III airlifter required a new manufacturing facility, and again, The Austin Company delivered. The C-17 would be a wide-bodied 175-footlong transport aircraft with a wingspan of 165 feet and a tail height of 55 feet, designed to carry a payload of nearly 171,000 pounds. It would be capable of airdropping as many as 102 paratroopers and all their equipment, and its rear doors would accommodate battle tanks, armored trucks and trailers, and other palletized cargo. McDonnell Douglas’s plan was to have 10 aircraft under production simultaneously — clearly, 10 of these aircraft in a building demands a large building, with high bays and long clear spans. That was the situation McDonnell Douglas (merged with The Boeing Company in 1997) found itself in during the mid-1980s when it was awarded the contract from the U.S. Air Force to deliver the C-17 Globemaster III airlifter. Building for a Century of Flight

But McDonnell Douglas knew where to turn to get the job done and called The Austin Company as it had been doing for more than 45 years whenever it needed design, engineering and construction services, and needed them fast. When Austin tackled the job, it was tasked with designing and constructing a 1.1-million

In addition to Long Beach, California, Austin has served McDonnell Douglas, and its heritage companies, on multiple major projects in St. Louis, Missouri, and other locations. With the merger between The Boeing Company and McDonnell Douglas in 1997, Austin’s projects for the combined company extend nationwide within a remarkable 90-plus-year history (since 1924), including every aspect of aviation, defense and space program facilities.


The C-17 facility in Long Beach, California.

square-foot high-bay assembly manufacturing building, with an extensive overhead crane system; a 600,000-square-foot subassemblies plant and warehouse; a main utilities plant; and a wire-harness assembly facility; along with aircraft aprons and related site development. The footprint of the entire facility would cover 25 acres of McDonnell Douglas’s Long Beach complex. Austin’s solution involved adding 700,000 square feet to an existing 600,000 square-foot building that had previously been used to build DC-10 jetliners. The Austin design team wrapped the new construction around the existing structural system in a U-shaped configuration. Completed in 1988, ahead of schedule and under budget, Building 54 met the requirement

Giant of the Sky To the non-engineer, it’s a complete mystery how the C-17 ever gets off the ground. The Globemaster III has been essential to the U.S. military not just because of its impressive size, or the significant loads it can carry, but because it can perform in ways much smaller aircraft cannot. The impressive four-engine airlifter, manned by three crew members, tips the scales at about 585,000 pounds, including its maximum payload of more than 80 tons of troops, supplies and vehicles. But what makes it all the more remarkable, and versatile, is its ability to take off and land on runways as short as 3,500 feet and only 90 feet wide, and on unpaved, unimproved runways as well. It can also turn around easily using a three-point star turn, and it can back up. Its payload capacity and versatility have not only made the C-17 invaluable in conflicts, but it has also become a mainstay of humanitarian aid missions all over the world during times of famine, flood, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

The U.S. Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster can carry more than 170,000 pounds. 30

The C-17 paint hangar was one of several buildings The Austin Company completed at Boeing’s Long Beach site in the late 1980’s.

of simultaneous final assembly of 10 C-17s at one time. At peak production, 590 teams built 16 of the $200+ million airlifters a year. Altogether, McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) produced 223 C-17s for the Air Force alone, along with airlifters for Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, the United Kingdom and India, among others. Following completion of the Building 54 complex, Austin provided design, engineering and construction services for an ongoing series of projects including an upgrade of the C-17 Paint Hanger — Building 58, a Data Center, conversion of Building 52 to engineering and administrative support offices, and an Employee Fitness Center, among many others. All in all, Austin’s project work at the Long Beach site totaled well over $200 million (in 1980s to 1990s dollars). Building for a Century of Flight

Retrofitting Building 58 Austin developed a comprehensive redesign and retrofit of Boeing’s Aircraft Paint Building 58, originally constructed to paint DC-10s, where each new C-17 airlifter was painted on its way to being flight-ready. The paint facility is a 50,000-square-foot bay within a larger 128,000-square-foot building housing mechanical and support spaces. The project included a comprehensive redesign of the supply and exhaust air systems, including conversion from wet scrubbers to dry media filtration, and the addition of controls for a “fully automated” operation. The building originally had been retrofitted to a C-17 paint facility in 1986 by another firm, which had installed a vertical airflow system. McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) had ­experienced ongoing operational difficulties from the 31

The C-17 Globemaster building in Long Beach, California.

­eginning, including clouding, poor particle b entrainment and high concentrations of solvents in the hangar. Austin was ultimately called to fix the problems. Austin’s engineering team tackled the issues by completely redesigning the airflow system to address the operational, maintenance and quality problems, and enhancing the facility’s ability to handle a variety of aircraft types and sizes in addition to the C-17. Austin converted the paint hangar to a system that utilized both horizontal and vertical airflow components, with the introduction of a significantly greater quantity of air at the nose of the aircraft, and additional exhausting at the rear of the aircraft (high tail of the C-17). The new system made for a state-of-the-art ventilation system that was not only more effective, but also safer for the facility’s employees. Due to the significant size and weight of the new mechanical systems, extensive structural steel framing also was installed for support,

A crane is used in the construction of the C-17 Globemaster facility.

including towers, stacks and trusses that took into consideration not only support, but also wind and seismic conditions.


Lockheed Martin— Palmdale, California

Designing and Constructing Classified Facilities for the “Skunk Works®”


he Austin Company began the move of Lockheed Martin’s famed “Skunk Works®” from Burbank, California, to the company’s Palmdale, California, site in the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles in 1987. The first of these projects planned, designed, engineered and constructed by Austin was Lockheed’s Composites Manufacturing Facility, a 200,000-square-foot facility named Building 636. This facility develops, manufactures and tests nonmetallic military aircraft components. The pieces and parts are fabricated from plastics, resins, carbon fiber and other nonmetallic materials, which are instrumental in “stealth” capabilities for the military in replacing standard metals normally used in aircraft construction. Building for a Century of Flight

Austin’s design for this facility included a state-of-the-art central emissions control system and what was the second-largest thermal oxidizer in the U.S. A centralized building management and control system monitors the environmental-control equipment and instantly alerts operators in the event of a malfunction. One of the challenges of Building 636 was Lockheed’s Advanced Development Company (LADC) had been based in Burbank for 50 years before it began its move to Palmdale in 1987 (Lockheed merged with Martin Marietta in 1995 to become Lockheed Martin).


the necessary secrecy of how Lockheed Martin uses the facility. Due to the classified work that takes place within Lockheed Martin’s walls, Austin’s team of planners, architects, engineers and constructors were not allowed to know what each space or room within the building would contain or the objects that would be moved into and out of rooms. “Lockheed Martin had about 90 different classified programs that would be going on inside Building 636 and we couldn’t easily get the information that we needed to design the building,” says Dan Wiegandt, manager of engineering for Austin and then project architect, explaining that they had to use analogies to learn the processes that were to be in the rooms. For example, one room was called the “Brick Room” because the materials being developed and researched in that room were made like an adobe brick.

“That’s the analogy we used in order to get an understanding of the things that were going to be in the room. We never really knew the room’s official use,” he said. Similarly, Austin’s team had to create ‘threedimensional parts envelopes.’ “We weren’t allowed to know the objects or the classified program they were associated with,” Wiegandt explains. “We had a series of generic shapes to develop doorways, aisles and turning radiuses, and to determine material handling equipment.” Austin followed with the design and engineering for a new Metallic Fabrication Center, Building 637. The center is a 125,000-squarefoot facility that provided flexibility to expand the sheet metal, tubing and other metal shops and the chemical milling area. That project included the design and installation of HVAC, oil mist filtration, particulate exhaust, solvent exhaust, chemical exhaust, ovens, cranes and

An exterior view of Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works® facility.


Origin of Skunk Works® Skunk Works® is the official alias of Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs, formerly Lockheed Advanced Development Company. While the work that’s done by this elite team of engineers and manufacturing wizards is essential to national security and is top secret, the team’s name actually traces back to a comic strip. In June of 1943, a young, hand picked team of the best and the brightest was put together by Lockheed at its Burbank, California, facility to develop the United States’ first jet fighter, the XP-80 Shooting Star. The team was elite and its development work exceptional. It was 1943 and at the peak of the war effort and there was no space available for the team at the Lockheed

The Skunk Works® facility in Palmdale, California.

special security access requirements. It also included chilled and cooling water systems. Austin also designed, engineered and constructed an addition to Building 636, an Advanced Materials Laboratory, which is an 18,000-square-foot lab used for electromagnetic, structural, instrumentation, general chemistry and ceramics research and development. In 1992, Lockheed Martin made the decision to move the balance of its “Skunk Works®” Building for a Century of Flight

The Skunk Works® logo appears on the side of the facility in Palmdale.

Burbank site. Undaunted, the team set up shop in a rented circus tent next to a manufacturing plant that produced a strong odor that permeated the canvas tent. One of the engineers, Irv Culver, was a fan of Al Capp’s syndicated cartoon strip, “Li’l Abner,” in which there was a running joke about a mysterious and malodorous place deep in the forest called the “Skunk Works®.” There, a gurgling still produced a pungent brew from skunks, old shoes and other strange ingredients. One afternoon, Culver’s phone rang and he answered it, “Skunk Works®, … Culver speaking.” Fellow employees quickly adopted the oddly appropriate name and the mysterious division of Lockheed became known as “Skunk Works®.” research and development arm from the Burbank facility to the Palmdale campus. Sherm Mullin, then-president of Lockheed Advanced Development Company (LADC), committed to getting the design and construction finished in just three-and-a-half months. The plan was to do a complete renovation of Building 608. The schedule commitment meant only 109 calendar days to completely renovate an existing two-story, 61,000-square-foot building, and 35

Austin’s rendering of the Lockheed Martin’s Nonmetallic Facility Building 636.

turn it into a modern, top-security, advanced technology aeronautics headquarters for classified programs. This was a classic highly accelerated design and construction situation for The Austin Company. Mullins tapped Austin for the project — working under extremely tight deadlines had become Austin’s hallmark, and the company was up to the job. The renovation of Building 608 was a major task and included: asbestos abatement, gutting the interior, rebuilding it to conform to a new layout Austin had designed, meeting strict building codes to comply with the City of Palmdale and the L.A. County Fire Department, and, because of the highly classified work done by Lockheed, installing state-of-the-art security and communications systems. Dan Wiegandt again served as the project architect for the project. “That was a screaming fast job,” he said, recalling the quick work in taking the project from “cocktail napkin to construction completion.”

Wiegandt said one of the keys to meeting the aggressive schedule was having a team that made intelligent early design decisions. He said that the project called for Austin’s design and procurement departments to literally work side-by-side. “We brought procurement in and had them ordering things like doors and door frames before we ever designed the rooms,” Wiegandt explained. Another key was ingenuity. Included in the renovation of Building 608 was the need to add an elevator for accessibility compliance. The typical time frame to order an elevator is six weeks, with an additional 12 weeks to have it manufactured, delivered and installed. “We clearly didn’t have time for that,” Wiegandt said. Incredibly, Austin’s procurement team found an elevator that had been ordered but wasn’t going to be used by another company. “We got the elevator and customized the building to fit the elevator,” he added. When the target date in late December 1992 came for the Lockheed Advanced Development


In 1992, The Austin Company completely transformed a 61,000 square-foot building into a modern, top-­security, advanced technology aeronautics facility for Lockheed Martin.

Austin’s rendering of Lockheed Martin’s Metallic Fab Center.

Building for a Century of Flight


team to move into its new headquarters, not only was the building ready, but the ­construction had been completed two days ahead of schedule. In a letter to The Austin Company shortly after the project was completed, the LADC’s Director of Facilities, Stan Kramer, wrote, “I have witnessed perhaps one of the most professionally, cooperatively and aggressively managed design/construction building projects since becoming the director.”

Electromagnetic & Avionics Lab Design and construction were also Austin’s duties in the development of a new 12,000-square-foot Electromagnetic & Avionics Labor­ a­ tory, in Building 601 on the Palmdale campus. That facility was comprised of labs that handled electromagnetics, optics, fiber optics, RF or radio frequency, instrumentation, and research and development for classified military programs. Buildings 636, 637 and the transformation of Building 608 are just examples of projects that Austin would be tapped to work on for

Lockheed Martin. In Palmdale alone, Austin has completed projects for Lockheed Martin totaling more than 500,000 square feet, supporting aircraft assembly, painting, avionics, research and development labs, corporate, general usage, and engineering offices. Austin also performed services in support of Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale campus south of San Francisco, where the company undertakes a good portion of its missile and space work. This included design and engineering for a Composites Manufacturing Facility, Building 54. The 250,000-square-foot facility needed to be a state-of-the-art nonmetallic components production facility and include: extensive security, shielding, an Access Control and Security System, isolation and vibration control, sound control, instrumentation and air quality controls, hazardous materials and explosion controls, and several additional high-tech features. Decentralized dust collectors and scrubbers with replaceable activated carbon absorption processes were included in the design of the HVAC system.


The Boeing Company — Everett, Washington

Boeing’s Everett Expansion: Building for the 777


n the early 1990s, Boeing and The Austin Company set out to increase the size of the world’s largest industrial building. To accommodate the production of Boeing’s newest jetliner — the 777 — Austin was charged with the task of increasing the enormous existing plant with a 1.9-million square-foot expansion. The expansion added more than 140,000,000 cubic feet, more than doubling the original size. By the end of 1990, Boeing already had orders for dozens of the twin-engine wide-body jet and the Boeing produced three to four 777s monthly in their Everett, Washington, facility.

Building for a Century of Flight

first 777 was scheduled to roll out of the facility in 1994. Austin had unparalleled experience with Boeing’s behemoth facilities in Everett. The Company had previously designed and built the original Everett 747 plant in 1966-1967 and the 767 expansion in 1978-1979. “For this expansion, we added nearly 44 acres. That’s a big farmer’s field,” says Jim Peterson, a retired Austin vice president who served as Austin’s program manager for the 777 The first 777 — named “Working Together” — rolled out of the Everett facility on April 9, 1994. There were 15 ceremonies — and more than 100,000 guests — at the Boeing plant that day. The first flight took place two months later, which began an 11-month flight test. Following the flight test, Boeing delivered United Airlines’ first 777 jet on schedule, in May 1995.


In the late 1980s, Boeing recognized the need to develop a new jetliner that brought more value to airlines. According to Boeing archives, the company invited eight global airlines to participate in designing the 777. In March 1990, the group met in Everett and shared ideas that would eventually be used in the design of the jet. The collaborative group was comprised of American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Quantas, United, All Nippon Airways, British Airways and Japan Airlines. Asking customers for their input on the design of an aircraft was unheard of, but Boeing compiled the survey data and feedback from meetings and incorporated The Gang of 8’s suggestions. The result of the collaboration was a jet that featured a cabin cross-section that was similar to the 747, with a capacity of up to 325 passengers, flexible interiors, a glass cockpit, fly-by-wire controls, and a 10-percent improvement to seat-mile costs over the Airbus A330 and McDonnell Douglas’s MD-11. Boeing’s 777 was the first commercial aircraft designed entirely with computerexpansion. He oversaw the design, engineering, procurement and construction of the project. While the schedule to design and construct this expansion was longer than the original construction project, the time frame to complete the design and construction was aggressive. The Boeing and Austin facilities planners found ways to continually optimize the space created by this huge manufacturing plant. The space became more complicated, more complex, and a more efficient environment, and each expansion led to improvements in the existing structure.

In the early 1990s, Austin partnered with Boeing to transform 100 acres into a facility to build the 777 jetliner.

aided-design (CAD). The design and production were so accurate that a prototype wasn’t needed. The 777 project was launched with an $11 billion order from United Airlines for 34 Pratt & Whitney powered airframes. Since its debut in the mid-1990s, Boeing’s 777 has received more orders than any other wide-body airline. It has been one of Boeing’s best-selling models. Over the past 20 years, more than 60 customers have ordered nearly 1,900 of the jetliner (all variants). In the spring of 1991, construction began and with Austin’s method of simultaneously designing, engineering and constructing facilities, the company’s team of architects, engineers and construction crews worked together to develop the expansion that ultimately included five assembly buildings. Within those buildings were high-bay support towers, assembly lines, office space, storage, cafeterias, tunnels and trenches that were needed to build the 777. Peterson says that more than 700 Austin employees and contractors worked on the project that wrapped up in March 1993.


The utility tunnels and trenches required to build the big jetliners are an intricate underground maze that runs throughout the facility. Altogether, Austin dug 6,500 feet of tunnels to accommodate utility mains and emergency evacuation, and 11,500 feet of trenches for branch utility lines. More than 140,000 cubic yards of concrete were poured for the foundation. Above ground, the expansion featured clear spans of 350 feet, with internal clear heights of 87 feet. The 777 is smaller than the 747, but still has a wingspan of nearly 200 feet. Its length is just over 209 feet. Eight cranes were added to the plant’s overhead crane system. Each crane was capable of lifting 40 tons and was used to handle components and subassemblies — and to move airplane parts from one assembly position to another. Peterson explains that cranes move the components and assembled sections along the line. “None of the components touch the floor until the wheels are installed on the plane,” he

says. “It’s an amazing process.” The expansion also had to account for new technology. In addition to computer-aided-­ design (CAD), other innovative methods were going to be used in the construction of the 777s. One of these methods was the installation of a barrel-turning machine that could rotate fuselage subassemblies 180 degrees. This allowed Boeing’s employees easier access to the jet’s upper body sections. By September 1992, Boeing moved more than 6,000 members of its 777 design team from its Renton facility to Everett. At the beginning of 1993, employees started assembly of the first 777. About 14 months later, the new jet was ready to roll out of the expanded facility. Soon after, Boeing employees were producing three to four 777s each month. For the past five decades, Boeing’s Everett plant has evolved to meet the demands of the aerospace industry. The facility continues to produce 767s, 777s and 787s.

The 777 expansion tool and jig installation.

Building for a Century of Flight


As construction of the 777 expansion began in 1991, The Austin Company was recognizing its 75th anniversary in the aerospace industry — and its nearly 70-year partnership with Boeing. With a long history of partnership with Boeing, it seemed fitting that Austin was selected to design, engineer and build a plant that would be critical to the future of the aircraft manufacturer. In addition to the 777 expansion project, Austin has designed and/or constructed over 18.4 million square feet of aviation and aerospace facilities for Boeing since 1924. Here are just a few highlights: 1924

Assembly Building Addition. Seattle, WA.


Plant II. Seattle, WA. 300,000 SF


Boeing Corporate Headquarters. Seattle, WA. 250,000 SF


Additions to Plant II. Seattle, WA. 289,000 SF


Assembly Buildings. Renton, WA. 1,713,800 SF


Renton Assembly Facilities. Seattle, WA. 770,400 SF


Office Building. Renton, WA. 327,700 SF


Office Building – Developmental Center. Seattle, WA. 552,200 SF


Fabrication Facilities. Auburn, WA. 1,502,214 SF

1964-1965 727 Assembly Building. Renton, WA. 708,500 SF 1965-1966 747 Assembly Buildings. Everett, WA. 1,800,000 SF 1978-1980 767 Aircraft Assembly Facility. Everett, WA. 820,000 SF 1981

ALCM Missile Manufacturing Facility. Kent, WA. 290,000 SF


Building 9-101 Annex, Composites Manufacturing. Seattle, WA. 100,000 SF


Building 18.61 Research & Development Labs. Kent & Seattle, WA. 494,000 SF


Building 40.05 Light Manufacturing, Warehouse. Everett, WA. 160,000 SF


Building 17.45 Production of Sheet Metal Parts. Auburn, WA. 880,000 SF


C-17 Assembly Facility, Long Beach, CA. 1,100,000 SF


Expansion of 737-757 Final Assembly Building. Renton, WA. 570,000 SF

1991–1994 777 Aircraft Assembly Buildings. Everett, WA. 1,914,000 SF 1996–1997 High Bay Factory Office. Everett, WA. 300,000 SF 1998

717 Final Assembly Upgrade, Building 84. Long Beach, CA. 200,000 SF


North American Space & Defense Group Operations. El Paso, TX. 250,000 SF

1997-2002 High Bay Plant Improve Seismic Performance. Everett, WA. 4,000,000 SF 1998–2002 Delta IV Rocket Manufacturing Plant. Decatur, AL. 1,500,000 SF 2007

New Fitness Center. Long Beach, CA. 14,000 SF


A New Millennium “Aviation and aerospace is in our DNA. We are a part of the industry’s history. And while

we wonder what the next century will bring, one thing is for certain — Austin’s first one hundred years is a pretty good start.”

—Mike Pierce President



The Boeing Company — Decatur, Alabama

Launching into the 21st Century


he end of the 20th century launched an amazing opportunity for The Austin Company — a chance to further its longtime partnership with Boeing by designing and building facilities needed for their new Delta IV family of rockets. The history of the Delta rockets can be traced to the late 1950s and early 1960s when the U.S. government responded to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik in 1957. Even though the early Delta rockets could only lift a payload of about 100 pounds, they were the primary launch vehicle for communication, weather and science satellites throughout the 1960s and 1970s until the government began using the Space Shuttle to place satellites in orbit. In 1986, President Reagan announced that the Space Shuttle would no longer provide launch services for commercial satellites, opening the way for further Delta production and development. Building for a Century of Flight

The Delta II and Delta III rockets were developed throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, both of which greatly improved the payload capacity for the Delta family of rockets; howA view of the friction stir welding site at the Delta IV facility.


Austin developed more than 2,000 design and engineering drawings for the Delta IV facility.

Construction of the Delta IV plant began in the spring of 1998. Early in the project, Boeing revised its original plans — reducing the facility from 2.5 million square feet to 1.5 million square feet.

ever, the market continued to demand larger and more powerful rockets. During the mid1990s, a shift began to occur, predicting greater commercial applications and a larger class of rockets capable of a much higher payload. In response, Boeing began developing the larger Delta IV rocket. Concurrently, Lockheed Martin was also developing their Atlas V vehicle for commercial applications. Although the government was the primary customer of all early launch systems, the heightened demand for commercial products led the government to limit its initial order to both Boeing and Lockheed Martin, offering only a partial order to both companies with the balance of the order to be awarded later, based on certain criteria. A race was on to see who would get the balance of the government order. At the time, Lockheed Martin was a bit ahead of Boeing in the development of their rocket, which placed extreme pressure on the Delta IV program, both in development and pro-


duction. Much of the Delta IV rocket could be manufactured in various Boeing plants around the U.S.; however, due to the massive size of this new rocket, certain portions would require new facilities to allow production to continue. While building portions of the initial prototype rocket in various locations would work to meet the early deadlines that were established, moving parts all over the country would not allow the team to meet the requisite competitive cost targets. Ultimately, a focused factory, specifically designed to produce the Delta IV rocket, would be required. After months of supporting Boeing in preliminary planning and development of a focused factory concept, in the fall of 1997, Boeing awarded Austin a contract to finalize the design, engineer and construct a 2.5-million square-foot facility that would be used to build the largest

Delta rocket. The new Delta IV would have the capability of carrying a much heavier payload — over 63,000 pounds, the equivalent of nearly five African elephants, into a low Earth orbit. On March 2, 1998, when the core construction team began mobilizing on-site in Decatur, Alabama, much of the initial engineering and rough grading of the site had been completed for the 2.5-million square-foot factory. In midMarch, however, plans took a sudden turn when Boeing gathered its own engineers, along with Austin’s designers, engineers and constructors to challenge the team to implement LEAN manufacturing practices. “Boeing called it their “Men in Black” exercise — like the movie that was popular at the time,” says Matt Eddleman, Austin’s senior vice president. “With the new LEAN principles, we were told to forget our pre-conceived ideas of

Construction of the state-of-the-industry facility began in the spring of 1998 and was completed in late 1999.

Building for a Century of Flight


Rocket Factory Facts • More than 2,000 design and engineering drawings were developed for the project. • Six cranes, each more than 250 feet high and with capacities of 300 tons, were used to lift the trusses and steel beams in erecting the building. • Ten semitrailer loads of bolts — more than 115 tons — were used in construction. • The floor system used more than 35,000 cubic yards of 4,000 psi steel-reinforced concrete. Nearly 2 million pounds of steel fibers were manufactured specifically for the concrete reinforcement. • The entire 1.5 million square-foot facility is environmentally controlled and air conditioned to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, 24/7/365. • At its peak, the construction workforce numbered 1,400 employees. how a rocket is manufactured.” The 2.5-million square-foot facility was ultimately reduced to 1.5 million square feet. “It was a drastic reduction in the size of the facility, and what made this even more challenging was that we had already started constructing the underground tunnels and over half the structural steel was ordered. Some things were already fixed in place,” said Eddleman. Despite the change in the square footage of the plant, the deadline to complete the facility didn’t shift — remember, the race to get the balance of the government orders was still on. Austin delivered results. In February 1999, the most schedule-critical section of the entire factory was delivered — the Chemical Processing area, where the outer skins were cleaned, etched and coated, along with the Weld Shop, which was large enough to perform vertical and horizontal welding of the rocket

The first launch of the Delta IV for Eutelsat at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on November 20, 2002.

Boeing required that the building be as environmentally friendly as possible. Austin implemented numerous state-ofthe-art practices to reduce waste. One of the practices was the use of a trench system that gathers scrap aluminum from the milling phase. Enormous sheets of aluminum, weighing more than four tons, are milled with a grid pattern that cuts away much of the aluminum to create a structurally sound panel, while greatly reducing the weight of the rocket skins. booster. These two manufacturing processes could not be accomplished anywhere else in the world, and it was paramount that these areas be delivered to maintain the critical production schedule established by Boeing. These critical manufacturing areas were


located near the center of the building. To ­complete these areas as fast as possible, construction began in the center of the plant and progressed from the center out to the north and south, simultaneously. The facility was designed around four product centers: 1. Skin, Ring and Dome Center — machining, inspection and anodizing of the skins and rings 2. Tank Center — welding, inspection, pressure testing and application of thermal protection 3. Major Structure Center — assembly of the metallic and composite structures 4. Stage Center — final assembly and testing The Delta IV rocket is composed of five vehicles based on a common booster core (CBC) first stage. The CBC is approximately 134 feet in length and 17 feet in diameter — roughly the size of a Boeing wide-body airplane fuselage. To accommodate the production of the

enormous CBCs and the assembly of the rocket, the building includes 33 bridge cranes, some spanning up to 220 feet and some capable of lifting 30 tons. A crane system is used for three phases of the assembly: skin and ring material delivery, chemical processing of the tank line, and skin/ring/dome delivery. Eddleman noted that the system includes manual cranes for transporting the skin/ring assembly, while a series of automated cranes were provided for the chemical processing area. The cranes are vital to the entire assembly process, from the initial unloading of giant slabs of aluminum and other raw materials, through the milling and fabrication process to the chemical treatment processing, then to testing, and finally to assembly. Following the testing and application of a foam insulation, the components are moved to the integrated assembly and checkout (IACO) work center. There, the components and rocket

Boeing’s family of Delta IV rockets are assembled in its 1.5-million square-foot facility in Decatur, Alabama.

Building for a Century of Flight


engine are connected and prepped for loading onto a custom vehicle that delivers the rocket to the Tennessee River, where it will be shipped south to the Gulf of Mexico for its destination at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The first Delta IV rolled out of production from the Decatur site by mid-2002 and was launched on November 20, 2002, delivering a communications satellite into orbit for Eutelsat. Eddleman says the Boeing Delta IV project was very rewarding for the entire team. It is rare that companies get to work on a single project such as this one, but Austin has been fortunate to partner with Boeing on many tremendous and record-setting projects over the past 100 years.

Even though Boeing won the race and was awarded the balance of the government orders, shortly after the first launch of the Delta IV, the government suspended the Delta program in July 2003. Taking advantage of the state-of-theart facility designed and built by Austin, Boeing subsequently moved production of the Delta II rockets to the Decatur facility. An even greater testament to this remarkable facility is that when Boeing and Lockheed Martin merged their rocket businesses in a joint venture in 2005, known as United Launch Alliance, the Decatur plant was the factory selected to manufacture both the Delta and Atlas rockets.

The first Delta IV rocket rolled out of the Decatur facility in 2002.


Airbus — Mobile, Alabama

Designing Airbus a Sweet Home in Alabama


our years ago, with airlines throughout North America increasing their demand for one of Airbus’s popular fuel-efficient jetliners, the aerospace giant was eager to put its footprint in the United States. It wanted to establish an A320 manufacturing facility in the United States and after narrowing down its search, the European aircraft maker eventually chose Mobile, Alabama, for its first U.S.-based plant. There was a backlog of orders for hundreds of the A320 family of aircraft and the new facility was expected to deliver its first aircraft to JetBlue by spring 2016. To hit that deadline, Airbus needed to transform a 116-acre former air force base into a state-of-the-industry aerospace manufacturing facility by mid-2015. For that incredible task, the aircraft manufacturer needed to rely on an experienced design and engineering partner. Building for a Century of Flight

By 2012, when Airbus announced its decision to build its facility in Mobile, The Austin Company had nearly a century of experience in designing and constructing aerospace facilities in the U.S. and abroad. Austin’s designers and engineers were ready to share their immense expertise and experience with Airbus. The Austin Company was ready to build on A rendering of the Airbus A320 facility. A former U.S. Air Force base was transformed into the aircraft manufacturing building.


The A320 is a fuel efficient, twin-engine single-aisle jet that’s often used on shortand medium-haul flights. In addition to the new site in Mobile, Alabama, Airbus has assembly plants in Toulouse, France; Hamburg, Germany; and Tianjin, China. According to Airbus, an A320 takes off or lands somewhere across the globe every two seconds. its reputation as a company that for decades has delivered more than just promises. In March 2013, Airbus chose Austin to provide design, engineering and construction administration for the most critical buildings of its new manufacturing campus. Austin partnered with Mobile-based Gulf States Engineering and they immediately set out to design and engineer the facilities. Transforming the former Brookley Air Force Base, which closed in 1969, in an extremely tight time frame called for innovation during the design stage. In response to the project’s

aggressive schedule, Austin expedited the design of the pilings and pile caps, allowing the construction work to begin just six weeks after the design contract was awarded. The Austin Company completed all design and engineering work for the complete construction documents five months after receiving the contract from Airbus. Dan Wiegandt, one of Austin’s Subject Matter Experts for aerospace facilities, served on the project team and was heavily involved in the facility’s design. “The site was just as you’d imagine an air force base to be,” he says. “It was a large flat plain with some runways. It wasn’t quite as flat as a pool table, but it was pretty close.” With its location near the Port of Mobile (a large deepwater seaport in the Gulf of Mexico), the former air force base is ideal for Airbus to ship major aircraft components from its overseas operations to the Mobile facility for assembly. The location also means that the new buildings would need to withstand southern Alabama’s soil and weather conditions.

A rendering of an aerial view of the Airbus facility, near the Mobile bay.


Airbus expects employees at the Mobile plant to produce four A-320 jets monthly by the end of 2017.

Wiegandt explains that an average of five feet of rain falls annually in the Mobile Bay area. “The soil conditions there are just this side of a wet sponge,” he says wryly. The design manager adds that those conditions were especially challenging in designing and constructing the tunnels beneath the facility. “There were some things that needed to be underground, but we worked to limit what was placed down below,” Wiegandt adds. While Airbus wanted the Final Assembly Line (FAL) facility to be similar to its “sister” plants in Tianjin, China, and Hamburg, Germany, adjustments to the design and construction had to be made based on the Gulf Coast location. “What Airbus had envisioned had never been built in a hurricane zone,” Wiegandt explains. To account for the wet and sometimes harsh weather conditions, Austin’s engineering designs took into consideration flood protection, local heavy rain, corrosion protection, deep Building for a Century of Flight

foundations and the influence of hurricanes, including gale-force winds up to 135 mph. Colin Wemer was Austin’s senior project manager for the Airbus facilities awarded to Austin. He explains that an additional study was provided at Airbus’s request. Austin developed a simulation plan to determine the number of finished A320s that could be moved into a hangar in the event of high winds or damaging storms. “Airbus parks the finished planes outside on a large lot and they’re out there until the customer picks them up. They wanted to know how many could fit inside the hangar in case they get bad weather,” Wemer says. “We did the study and they can get six planes in there, away from hurricanes and high winds.” Wiegandt says the project’s priority was the FAL because of its integral role in the assembly of the A320s. “This building had to be done first,” he says. “So, while we’re still in the design 53

stage, Airbus awarded the steel and exterior skin. Needing that much structural steel fabricated and shipped was a huge deal.” As the exterior of the FAL was being erected, Wiegandt says their focus was on the design, engineering and construction of the facility’s interior. “They were literally designing and creating the skin while we worked on everything inside that box,” he adds. Wemer echoes Wiegandt’s overview of the project and explains that the FAL includes features that are unique to Airbus. These include special pop-up stations that rise from below the floor (much like a stage or an orchestra pit at a theater) that allow the plane to be moved along the assembly line and then plugged in for evaluation. “It was a massive project — a very large, very tall building. This was not a Walmart® box buildTo the Austin team, the partnership with Airbus was more than a tremendous opportunity to create a state-of-theindustry facility for the European aircraft manufacturer. The project gave Wiegandt, Wemer, and several architects, mechanical, electrical and structural engineers a chance to travel to two of Airbus’s A320 facilities. Wiegandt said it was important for Austin to see the “sister” facilities, but it was just as valuable to get to know Airbus and learn their culture. “We spent time in the Tianjin (China) plant and crawled around the building for about one week,” he explains. “And every

The Airbus facility is designed and constructed to withstand harsh Gulf Coast weather.

ing,” Wemer says. The plant was completed on time and Airbus began assembly of its first U.S.produced aircraft in early fall 2015. That jet was delivered on schedule in April 2016 to JetBlue Airways. By the end of 2017, Airbus expects the $600 million facility to produce four aircraft each month. evening, we’d spend time with our Airbus hosts. They took us to all kinds of restaurants — from the restaurants for people at the management level to restaurants for the regular workers. We got to know them and experience their culture.” Wiegandt and Wemer also went to Airbus’s Hamburg, Germany, location. “We were there to meet with senior Airbus officials, as well as tour the Hamburg plant and understand the reasons for the way it’s built,” he says, adding that the building was originally used to manufacturer seaplanes during World War II.


Northrop Grumman — Melbourne, Florida

Fast-Track to Excellence


hroughout its first 100 years of service to the aviation and aerospace industry, The Austin Company was repeatedly called upon to undertake projects with challenging implementation schedules to meet the business needs of its clients, as well as the wartime needs of the country. In 2013, Northrop Grumman put Austin to the test once again. Early that year, Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems Sector announced the designation of five Centers of Excellence to improve their strategic alignments with customers’ needs for innovative and affordable products. In doing so, multiple fastpaced projects would need to be implemented to meet the business objectives for two of these centers. Northrop Grumman selected Austin to put into place three new facilities at its two Centers of Excellence in Central Florida. Building for a Century of Flight

Melbourne’s “Building 228” The first of these facilities — located on Northrop Grumman’s Manned Aircraft Design Center of Excellence campus in Melbourne, Florida, was needed to support the company’s relocation of an entire program team and hundreds of employees from its Bethpage, New York, facility to the Melbourne campus. “In spring of 2013, Austin was asked to look at several existing buildings at the Melbourne campus to determine if modifications could be made to accommodate the program relocation,” explains Ken Stone, a vice president with Austin and project executive for Austin’s services to Northrop Grumman nationwide. Austin’s team quickly determined that existing buildings couldn’t be effectively modified and that constructing a new 210,000-square-foot facility was the best solution. 55

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is the U.S. Navy’s early warning radar aircraft that is launched from aircraft carriers. The plane is manufactured by Northrop Grumman and uses electronically scanned radar and highly advanced technology to detect threats from enemy ships, aircraft and missiles.

Northrop Grumman needed the new building (named “Building 228”) to be ready for occupancy in 58 weeks. “We had just over one year to plan, design and engineer, construct, and get all of the furniture and lab support systems in place,” ­ Stone says. “We went from napkin sketch to move-in within a year.” The typical time frame to plan, design, engineer and construct a building of the size and complexity of Building 228 is three years. Building 228 is home to the program management and engineering teams, as well as advanced aviation labs, for the design and support of the U.S. Navy’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeye early warning aircraft. Stone continues, “The schedule was extremely tight; we had to design and engineer everything simultaneously, and most i­mportant,

More than 1,200 tons of steel were used in the construction of Northrop Grumman’s Building 228.


Building 228 is designed and constructed to withstand hurricane-force winds along Florida’s Atlantic Coast.

in the order needed to support a rapid construction start and highly compressed project schedule. The first thing we needed to do was to order structural steel.” More than 1,200 tons of steel were used in the construction of Building 228. In order to complete the project in just over 12 months, the construction schedule set the sequence for completion of each aspect of the design and engineering. There was not the luxury of completing the entire design before starting construction. Stone explains that a Construction Control Schedule was utilized that established the timeline for completion of design and engineering packages to support trade subcontractor bidding and ultimately construction. The approach required flexibility to develop design and engineering drawings out of traditional sequence. Planning for the new building began in midApril and final design and engineering began mid-June 2013. Daily and weekly meetings were held by the full team to review the schedule and ensure the project was moving forward per plan. Building for a Century of Flight

The Austin Company and Northrop Grumman received the 2014 Merit Award from the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), as well as a 2014 Engineering News Record (ENR) Southeast Region Best Projects Merit Award for the Building 228 project. These awards recognize the design and construction of the Manned Aircraft Design Center of Excellence facility that met and exceeded owner expectations. Orders for structural steel and precast concrete panels were placed, and in August 2013, construction started just 12 weeks after the start of planning and detailed design. “This project required a lot of critical thinking and development of creative solutions — and it wasn’t just the tight time frame that was a challenge,” Stone adds, explaining that the Atlantic Coast climate and Northrop Grumman’s LEED® certification goals introduced additional requirements. 57

From the beginning of design for Building 228, Northrop Grumman set a goal of having the facility receive LEED® certification. Austin worked with Northrop Grumman to incorporate environmental and sustainability practices in the building’s design and construction. The project received LEED® Silver certification in September 2015. The project incorporated numerous LEED® features including: • Alternative transportation — preferred parking for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles • Water-efficient landscaping • Water use reduction • Optimized energy performance • Regionally sourced materials • Recycled materials • Construction waste management “At Northrop Grumman, we’re committed to protecting the environment and natural resources in the communities where we work and live,” says Bill Trillo, Director of Facilities for Northrop Grumman. He adds that Building 228 provides a safe and healthy workplace for employees and also was constructed in a way that minimized adverse impacts on the environment. “We put up Building 228 along the Florida Space Coast,” Stone says. “We needed to factor in hurricanes, high winds and heavy rain, not only in the design, but also into the construction activities.” While the facility had to be built to withstand periodic harsh coastal weather — including winds of up to 150 mph — Stone adds that

the construction crews were also at times hampered by wind, lightning and rain. “We broke ground during the rainy season and on days when there was lightning, we had to set the cranes down,” he says. Nonetheless, the schedule was maintained. Stone says, “his was one of the fastest complex aerospace lab projects in Austin’s history.” Nearly 1,500 construction tradesmen worked six days a week, in multiple shifts each day, through the 10-month construction schedule. Despite all the odds and impacting weather, the facility was completed ahead of schedule and ready to meet Northrop Grumman’s business requirements.

Melbourne’s “Building 229” The second of the three new facilities in Florida, located on Northrop Grumman’s Manned Aircraft Design Center of Excellence campus in Melbourne, was needed to support 900 Aircraft Design Engineers and Program Management personnel within a state-of-theart building that would provide the latest in computer technology resources and a highly “people-focused” work environment. At 219,000 square feet, Building 229 would be a “sister” building to Building 228. With Building 228 nearing completion, Northrop Grumman selected Austin to provide planning, project management and construction management for Building 229. Construction began in early summer 2014, and was completed in 42 weeks, from groundbreaking to occupancy. Once again, a Construction Control Schedule served as the project ‘guide-book’ and work plan for design, engineering and procurement activities. The design and engineering team was driven by the construction schedule and maintained close coordination with the Construction Management team.


Building 229 is a sister facility to Building 228.

During construction, Austin and its subcontractors held daily and weekly full-team meetings that included schedule reviews to ensure that the team was progressing as anticipated. In addition, the design and engineering team worked to deliver fast turnarounds on submittals and Requests for Information. Nearly 1,400 construction tradesmen worked on the project up to 18 hours a day in shifts, six days a week, over the course of the project. At any time, more than 300 construction tradesmen and supervisors were working on the project. Like Building 228, Building 229 was designed to accommodate both program and engineering offices for the design and support of military aircraft. With an anticipated 50-plus year buildBuilding for a Century of Flight

ing life, and changing program assignments, the facility affords a high degree of flexibility, capacity and security. Internal flexibility is provided by three large floor plates with open office layouts to facilitate spatial reconfiguration. Partitions are located on-module to minimize disruption in future reconfigurations. The facility responds to capacity needs by means of utility delivery to meet both current and anticipated future requirements for power and cooling loads. Security is viewed from two perspectives — physical access to and within the building, and protecting the building, its occupants and sophisticated equipment from the potentially harsh Florida hurricanes and flooding.


Delivering results...for decades For more than 70 years, The Austin Company has proudly built its relationship with Northrop Grumman. Project by project, Austin has delivered on its promises to the aerospace company. “Northrop Grumman has an expectation that we’re responsive and knowledgeable,” says Ken Stone, vice president with The Austin Company. “We’re carrying experience from one project to the next and they expect us to come up to speed very quickly.” Over the past seven decades, Austin’s experts have delivered. “They know us and our work. There’s a trust and confidence in place and they know we’ll jump to meet whatever challenges are placed before us,” Stone adds. “We had relationships with each of Northrop Grumman’s heritage companies,” he explains. “The relationship started long before Northrop Grumman became Northrop Grumman.” Starting in the 1940s, The Austin Company was designing and constructing facilities for Grumman Aerospace Corporation in Bethpage, New York. In the early 1960s, Austin served Northrop Aviation to design and build facilities in Southern California. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Austin began serving West Coast-based TRW Space and Electronics Corp. Through a series of mergers of those three aviation and aerospace companies, Northrop Grumman was formed in 1994. Stone says that while the merger has made it easier to engage with what is today a single entity, Austin doesn’t take the relationship for granted. “Northrop Grumman is a prime government contractor. This means that

Austin earns its business based on not only performance, but competitiveness as well,” he says. “We have to win our contracts one by one.” There are many elements to the successful partnership, but Stone says that Austin’s ability to deliver on its promises and the company’s emphasis on communication are key. “We’ve completed a number of projects for Northrop Grumman that are milestone achievements — not always by the size of the project, but also the capability that project brings to their organization,” he explains. “Every project has its challenges and we deliver on those challenges. Communication is so important; we communicate every day — not just a set weekly call. Through the years, we’ve developed a rapport and we’re able to work well together.” “Our job is to come up with options and solutions as fast as we can,” Stone says. “We’re here to deliver Results, not Excuses®. Our job is to get it done — not to tell them it’s impossible.” After Building 228 was completed, Bill Trillo, Director of Facilities for Northrop Grumman, praised the efforts of Austin’s team. “Finishing the facility in such a short time period was a Herculean task,” he wrote in a note to The Austin Company. “The fast-track, design-build project, resulting from 42 weeks of construction activity from groundbreaking, August 21, 2013, to beneficial occupancy, June 12, 2014, is a testimony to the dedicated hard work of The Austin Company, A/E and Construction Management staff, and their many trade contractors,” Trillo says.


Northrop Grumman — St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine’s “Building 100”


he project team’s incredible achievement of planning, designing, engineering and constructing Building 228 in a little over 12 months not only won industry awards, but it also ran parallel to another fast-paced project for Northrop Grumman 150 miles to the north at the company’s Aircraft Integration Center of Excellence in St. Augustine, Florida. In spring 2013, The Austin Company began planning for a new production facility for the E-2D Hawkeye aircraft. “Northrop Grumman had a need to manufacture more E-2D Hawkeyes than they could produce in vintage facilities that were undersized and not properly equipped to meet the requirement,” explains Duane Lofdahl, vice president with Austin. “Just like Building 228 in Melbourne, Northrop Grumman wanted to get this new Building for a Century of Flight

facility in St. Augustine online quickly,” Lofdahl adds. “They needed us to demolish the existing final assembly building, then put up a new building in its place that would encompass all aspects of the aircraft’s manufacture — all on a very tight site.” The Austin Company and Northrop Grumman received a 2016 Engineering News Record (ENR) Southeast Region Best Projects Merit Award for the Building 100 project. These awards recognize the design and construction of the Aircraft Integration Center of Excellence facility that met and exceeded owner expectations. The project received LEED® Gold certification in December 2016.


The first phase of the Building 100 project was completed in just 16 months and included a 220,000-square-foot high bay facility.

The new 366,000-square-foot facility was rolled out in two phases. Austin provided planning, architectural design, engineering and construction on an accelerated schedule to meet E-2D production schedules. Phase One, delivered in just 16 months, focused on getting the majority of the new facility (named “Building 100”) constructed. This phase included: • 220,000-square-foot high bay • 60,000 square feet of office and support space • 13,000-square-foot auditorium and cafeteria • 14,000 square feet of initial-phase mechanical and electrical support space The team beat an originally projected 18-month schedule for this initial phase, despite heavy rains that impacted several months of construction. Production requirements necessitated large clear span floor areas with 40-foot clear height above the finish floor.

Structural steel was selected for the project due to its ability to accommodate the rapid fabrication and erection necessary to meet the project schedule and provide the required clear spans in the production space. Designing the facility as a structural steel-framed building topped with insulated metal, standing-seam panels provided greater efficiency for erecting the facility envelope as quickly as possible. The schedule required that the main ­structural steel framing design be completed in less than 12 weeks to support bidding and ­fabrication. This early release meant that final loading information for various building systems, such as HVAC and cranes, was not yet available, requiring that assumptions be made to complete the main structural steel framing design. Minor modifications to the structural steel supports were made upon final shop drawing review and design of various building systems. Steel trusses — 220 feet long — span the center high bay, along with 85-foot steel trusses spanning the north and south side bays. The long-span trusses were field assembled and


erected with long-reaching cranes due to the extremely tight job site conditions. The structural frame for the building has over 10,000 pieces of steel, weighing over 5,200 tons, connected with 100,000 high-strength bolts. The space between the 220-foot truss bottom chord and the top chord was carefully designed with eight platforms to allow for the housing of air-conditioning and air-handling units, as well as distribution ductwork and maintenance access catwalks. Truss loading accommodates a 12-ton overhead crane system in the 220-foot bay, and eight-ton cranes in the 85-foot bays. A total of six underhung bridge cranes suspended from the bottom chord of the trusses were provided for complete coverage within the high bay. The building’s exterior envelope is an architectural Insulated Metal Panel (IMP) system with low-e, high-performance and hurricane projectile-resistant exterior window glazing for the office mezzanine. In addition, the wall separating the offices from the production high bay was designed as a double wall system to block

manufacturing sound transmission from the manufacturing high bay. The building was designed to withstand hurricane winds up to 130 mph. The production center bay’s 215-foot clear-width bottom-rolling sliding door was specially detailed to run inside the clear opening of the door without any roof overhang to meet this requirement. Typically, most high bay door systems are designed to run outside of the clear opening for the door, resulting in a large overhang of the roof framing system and a soffit, not desirable in a high wind zone. To support the 30-foot high, bottom-­ rolling sliding door system, horizontal structural steel framing was designed to brace and transfer the load to the main roof truss bottom chord level at 40 feet above the finished floor. Phase Two. Upon completion of Phase One, Northrop Grumman moved operations into the new 307,000-square-foot production building. The second phase, consisting of 59,000 square feet of support shops, was implemented following completion of the first phase and demolition of additional existing buildings.

Building 100, in St. Augustine, Florida, is Northrop Grumman’s E-2D Hawkeye production site.

Building for a Century of Flight


Environmental Responsibility and LEED® Building 100 covers nearly 366,000 square feet of area on a site that also includes a t­ axiway for the newly constructed aircraft. Both the size and function of the facility posed unique challenges to obtaining LEED® credits; nevertheless, the project was designed and built to achieve LEED® Gold certification. The new building was designed around federally protected wetlands and trees, located adjacent to the building. The wetlands were preserved without increasing cost or impacting the effectiveness of the building layout. The wetlands serve as the site’s storm water retention and drainage systems. Combined with a newly constructed retention pond, these ecological systems provide irrigation to the site’s landscaping. Landscaping was chosen that requires minimal watering and blends in with the natural landscaping and site’s character. To reduce heat island effects, a highly reflective roof was selected and concrete was chosen over asphalt for the site’s parking lots. Construction activities addressed pollution in terms of dust and sediment control, erosion control and noise pollution. Construction waste management achieved a 90 percent recycling rate. An indoor air-quality plan was created and followed during construction that resulted in reduced dust and VOCs introduced into the air-conditioning system prior to occupancy. To promote low-impact commuting, preferred parking stalls, electric vehicle charging stations, and bicycle racks with changing rooms and showers were provided. Electric golf cart parking stalls with charging stations were also incorporated into the site’s parking. This encourages the use of electric carts in lieu of gasoline powered vehicles to travel within the overall site. Substantial water use reduction was achieved by means of water-conserving fixtures

Building 100 received LEED® Gold certification in December 2016.

and use of the site’s water retention ponds for landscape irrigation. The building’s exterior skin consists of insulated metal wall and roof panels and insulated, laminated glazing that exceeds Florida’s minimum thermal requirements. The combination of these materials creates a high-performing thermal envelope that is continuously insulated to exceed ASHRAE 90-1 requirements. Florida’s humidity is managed by a highly efficient chilled-water air-conditioning system. Optimized energy performance was achieved by the use of variable frequency drive (VFD) motors and high-efficiency equipment. LED lighting fixtures were provided in both the office and manufacturing high bay with carefully planned illumination levels. Green-e accredited Tradable Renewable Certificates (RECS) were purchased from the local utility in support of green power. Solar power is generated by Building Integrated Photo Voltaic (BIPV) thin film solar panels mounted to the building’s insulated standing seam roof. The solar panels are producing approximately 344 kWDC/312 kWAC of power. Through careful specification and procurement strategies, materials of recycled content sourced within 500 miles of the site were employed extensively.


Melbourne Airport Authority / Embraer — Melbourne, Florida

Austin’s Aerospace History Enters Its Second Century


hen the Wright brothers took off at Kitty Hawk in 1904, The Austin Company had already been designing and building industrial facilities for more than a quarter century. Twelve years later, manned flight was becoming a commercial reality and Austin was called upon to deliver its first aircraft assembly plant, a project for Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. Since first serving the industry in 1916, Austin has partnered with aircraft manufacturing companies including Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and others, to build some of the world’s finest, and largest, production facilities. In 2016, Austin began its second century of serving the aviation and aerospace industries by completing a project in Melbourne, Florida, for Embraer. By the end of the year, Embraer began production of a new Legacy 450 business jet at its new and expanded facilities that were built by The Austin Company. Building for a Century of Flight

Many things have changed since the Curtiss project in 1916, including the approach to contracting and facility ownership. In 1916, the contract was a simple handshake and one page agreement between Glenn Curtis and Wilbert Austin. In 2016, to provide Embraer’s new aircraft manufacturing facility, Austin contracted with the Melbourne Airport Authority to construct a facility that would be leased to Embraer. In An aerial view of the Embraer/MAA site in Melbourne, Florida.


Construction of the new assembly building for Embraer.

addition to the contracting approach, communication, planning and scheduling techniques and overall project collaboration throughout the construction process has also changed. But, even with all the changes the industry has seen, one constant remained — Austin’s unwavering commitment to providing a quality product on an extremely fast schedule, all while delivering Results, not Excuses®.

Embraer’s decision to locate in the Melbourne area came at a time when the massive work of the Space Shuttle program was winding down. While the cancellation of this program resulted in the loss of over 7,000 jobs for the men and women who lived and worked along the Florida Space Coast, the concentration of an available and skilled aerospace workforce created an opportunity for businesses to

Embraer uses the new facilities in Melbourne to produce its latest executive jet aircraft, the Legacy 450 and Legacy 500. 66

The foam fire suppression test that was conducted in the paint facility.

make investments and capitalize on the available talent pool. Embraer, Northrop Grumman and other companies in Brevard County and the surrounding areas continue to invest and expand their businesses. As with many aircraft programs, schedule is critical, and Embraer’s commitment to meet its first customer delivery was established long before the award of the construction contract. To ensure adequate time to build and paint the aircraft, and have a new facility from which to deliver the aircraft, Austin established a project schedule that phased completion of various areas to align with the aircraft manufacturing process. The approach of closely aligning the design and construction schedule with the manufacturing process is a technique that Austin has used since the early 20th century and Building for a Century of Flight

Highlights of Embraer’s Legacy 450/500 Jets The Legacy 450 and 500 executive jets are the fastest jets in the midsize segment and feature full digital flight controls. In addition, the jets offer the largest-in-class cabin — at 6 feet tall — and fully reclining seats. Legacy 450

Legacy 500


2,900 nm

3,125 nm




45,000 feet

45,000 feet

Maximum Operation Altitude


achieves the ultimate goal of delivering aircraft in the most expeditious manner possible. Like the cherished Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation’s factory of 1916, this new 236,000-square-foot facility, which more than doubled Embraer’s presence in Central Florida, will forever hold a special place in Austin history. The project marks the first aircraft manufactur-

ing facility of Austin’s second century serving this most auspicious industry. The Embraer facility is across the runway from Austin’s signature projects for Northrop Grumman that closed out Austin’s first century. How fitting that an airport runway marks the dividing line between the first and second centuries of serving this industry.

New Century…Same Old ‘Mother Nature’ Completing the expansion of Embraer’s Melbourne facility by the required deadlines was a remarkable achievement, considering that Mother Nature did her best during the winter of 2016 to thwart Austin’s efforts. “It seems every time we put a shovel in the ground in Florida, it rained. And it kept raining,” says Duane Lofdahl, vice president at The Austin Company. “In February, when we were working on the foundations for the new paint hangar, there was so much rainfall that we basically had swimming pools. It’s one thing when the water is three feet deep, but it’s another when it’s 10 feet deep.”

Lofdahl says that the Austin team made up for the rain delay by working multiple shifts over six-day weeks. “We had a lot of trades working on top of each other,” he says, adding that up to 250 workers were on-site at one point. To facilitate the construction, Austin implemented a Lean Construction planning process that brought together all trades to collaborate on a weekly basis to plan and coordinate work tasks. The Pull Planning strategy was a great success. It allowed the trade subconstructors to optimize their efficiency and control costs, while greatly minimizing unsafe conditions that can occur when construction activities are compressed.


The Austin Company

The Future of Aerospace Manufacturing Facility Design and Construction


o The Austin Company, the Melbourne Airport Authority / Embraer project is symbolically more than a single project for an important client. The project kicked off Austin’s second century of serving the aviation and aerospace industry. In 1916, when Austin made its debut in the design, engineering and construction of aviation manufacturing facilities, Austin’s leaders could not predict the industry’s tremendous growth. In a few short months, Austin successfully delivered the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation’s airplane manufacturing plant in Buffalo, New York. In the century that followed, Austin has been integral as the industry evolved from prop-driven warplanes to advanced military and commercial aircraft to rockets, satellites, manned spacecraft and unmanned aircraft. Building for a Century of Flight

“We’ve seen the airplane shrink the world — and Austin has been on the leading edge of facilities design, engineering and construction the entire time. That’s part of what makes this work so much fun,” says Matt Eddleman, Austin’s senior vice president. Eddleman remarks that today’s leaders at The Austin Company can’t predict the next 100 The Austin Company’s history includes the design and construction of airport facilities like this hangar in Pontiac, Michigan (circa 1930).


A rendering of an interior floor in a Northrop Grumman facility designed and constructed by The Austin Company.

years any more than Austin’s leaders in 1916, but he says that the Company’s team of designers, engineers and constructors is eager to push into the future to deliver building solutions that meet the demands of today and tomorrow. “As long as the industry manufactures indoors, there will always be a need for big steel trusses,” notes Eddleman. “There will always be a need for large, clear span aircraft and aerospace manufacturing facilities, even if it involves manufacturing driverless drones — like the ‘Jetsons’ or if 3-D printers are ‘building’ the aircraft or spacecraft. They will still need a large

place for the printer to put together the finished product.” As we move from the first century of flight and into the second, Eddleman notes that the industry’s growth has been in the southeast region of the United States. Over the next 100 years, he says Austin anticipates seeing additional global aerospace companies expanding throughout the U.S. “It’s already happening,” he adds, citing Embraer’s expansion in Melbourne; Airbus’s new A320 plant in Mobile, Alabama; Boeing’s Delta IV rocket facility in Decatur, Alabama;

Melbourne Airport Authority/Embraer Final Aviation Assembly Building constructed by Austin.


Northrop Grumman’s design and manufacturing Centers of Excellence across the U.S.; and Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner global manufacturing centers. A private venture company, Blue Origin, has successfully launched rockets to carry satellites into orbit and deliver payloads to the International Space Station — and, most important, return the rockets to Earth for reuse. In 1972, Apollo 17 Astronaut Eugene Cernan was the last man to walk on the moon. In an interview, Cernan said, “I’ve been tired of being called the end. Apollo 17 is not the end. It’s just the beginning of a whole new era in the history of mankind. Of course, at that time I said, ‘We’re not only going to go back to the moon,

Building for a Century of Flight

we will be on our way to Mars by the turn of the ­century.’ “ Man is not content with staying put. By nature, sometimes by necessity, man is driven to explore. The Austin Company’s legacy is one of engagement with the pioneers, explorers and industries they create. The second century of air and space travel is alive and well, and The Austin Company will continue to play its part in the future — a most exciting one. “…But the key is that we have to make the Mars thing work. If we’re going to have any chance of sending stuff to other star systems, we need to be laser-focused on becoming a multi-planet civilzation. That’s the next step.” — Elon Musk



References and Information “More aircraft have been assembled in Austin-

built facilities than in facilities designed or built by any other contractor.

There is a certain passion for this industry that is unmatched by other industries we work in.�

—Mike Pierce President



Aviation, Aerospace and Defense Client Listing From small firms to major manufacturing companies, The Austin Company has delivered custom-tailored solutions to every client served. Austin continues to expand its client base and increase its presence throughout the United States and worldwide. Aeronautical Products Aerospace Corp. Air Associates Airborne Instruments Laboratories Airbus Aircraft Braking Systems Aircraft Development Corp. Aircraft Plywood Company Alaska Airlines Alitalia Airlines Allison Division General Motors American Airlines, Inc. American Pacific Sales Corp. American Propeller Corp. Avianca Airlines Aviation Corp. Axelson Manufacturing Company Beech Aircraft Bell Aircraft Corp. Bendix Aviation Corp. BF Goodrich Aerospace Bombardier/Learjet Brewster Aeronautical Corp. Caribou Municipal Airport Carl L. Norden, Inc. Chandler Evans Corp. Charleston Air Force Base Chrysler Aviation Chrysler Technologies City of Muskogee City of Pontiac Consolidated Aircraft Corp. Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Continental Airlines Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company Curtiss Wright Export Corp. Dee Howard Aircraft Delta Airlines Douglas Aircraft Co. Eastern Aeronautical Corp. Eastern Airlines Easton Airport

Building for a Century of Flight

Elyria-Lorain Airport Embraer Fairchild Aviation Corp. Federal Aviation Administration Fleet Aircraft of Canada Ford Airport Frontier Airport G.B. Lewis Co. General Dynamics Goodyear Aircraft Corp. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Grumman Aircraft Engineer Corp. Hall Scott Motor Company Hamilton Standard Propellers Hanlon & Wilson Co. Harrisburg Airport Harvill Aircraft Die Casting Corp. Heathrow International Airport Hellenic Aerospace Hiroshima International Airport Holmes Airport Hormel Airport Illinois Tool Works Iran Aircraft Industries Jamestown Airport Joseph Kreutzer, Inc. Kansai International Airport Kollsman Instr. L.W.F. Eng. Company College Lancaster Airport Lenape Aircraft & Motors, Inc. Linde Air Products Co. Lockheed Martin Los Angeles Airport Louisville & Jefferson County Air Bd. Lukas-Harold Corp. Luscombe Airplane Corp. Madill Company Massachusetts Institute of Technology Matter Airport McDonnell Douglas Melbourne Airport Authority

N.A. Woodworth Co. Naha International Airport NASA National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics National Air Races Naval Aircraft Factory NAVFAC North American Aviation Northrop Grumman Northwest Airlines Oil City Airport Passaic County Airport Peoria Airport Pratt & Whitney Raytheon Rhode Island Airport Corp. Royal Saudi Air Force Saudia Airlines Scenic Airways, Inc. Scranton Airport Corporation Sea Launch Company Sikorsky Aircraft Sperry Gyroscope Co., Inc. Thai Airways The Boeing Company The Spartan Aircraft Co. Timm Aircraft Corp. Tinker Air Force Base Trans-Canada Air Lines Transcontinental & Western Airlines U.S. Army Corps of Engineers U.S. Department of Defense U.S. Naval Ordnance Plant United Aircraft Products United Airlines United Airport United Arab Emirates Air Force United States Army United States Navy Western Airlines, Inc. Worcester Airport, Inc. Zanesville Airport




2014, 2015 and 2016 ENR Southeast Region Best Projects Awards

Metal Architecture magazine (December 2015)

2014 DBIA Florida Region Design Build Awards

Modern Steel Construction magazine (Oct. 2014)

2015 AIA Orange County Design Awards

Modern Steel Construction magazine (Oct. 2000)

2015 and 2016 AISC IDEAS2 Awards

National Air and Space Museum

2015 BD+C Building Team Awards

Naval Air Systems Command: www.navair.navy. mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.displayPlatform&key=7A0B9668-52B6-4D81-B430A0638015EE31

airwaysnews.com/html/articles airwaysnews.com/blog/author/admin_sloan/ Feb. 15, 2014 airwaysnews.com — A History of Boeing’s Everett Plant Part Three: The Magnificent Seven airwaysnews.com — Boeing Everett Factory History Alabama Department of Commerce articles.latimes.com/2014/jan/13/business/ la-fl-mo-airbus-boeing-tallies-20140113 ASSEMBLY magazine, Jan. 5, 2016 (Austin Weber, senior editor) Aviation History Museum (www.aviation-history.com/ consolidated/b24.html) boeing.com/history/products/777.page boeing.mediaroom.com/1999-01-28-Boeing-signsagreement-for-Delta-IV-Integration-Facility Civil + Structural Engineer magazine (April 2015) coolrain44.wordpress.com/2009/07/31/ songs-about-airplanes-flying Crain’s Cleveland Business (Aug. 4, 2013) Defense Tech: www.defensetech.org/2014/10/20/navyto-deploy-new-e2d-advanced-hawkeye-radar-plane/ Dixie Contractor magazine (April 2016) djkeng.tripod.com/id5.html Eddleman, Matt, senior vice president, The Austin Company en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973%E2%80%9375_recession en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_777 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_C-17_Globemaster_III en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Everett_Factory en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Plant_2 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embraer_Legacy_500 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ List_of_largest_buildings_in_the_world en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Air_Force_Plant_42 Engineering News Record magazine (July 2015) Frank Spano, Managing Director, Austin Consulting Green Building + Design magazine (Nov.-Dec. 2014) lcweb2.loc.gov/master/pnp/habshaer/wa/wa0800/ wa0867/data/wa0867data.pdf

Lofdahl, Duane, vice president, The Austin Company military.wikia.com/wiki/Lockheed_Corporation

New York Times, May 29, 1991 Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (NGAS-15-0396) March 4, 2015 privatefly.com/press-releases/top-10-aircraft-inspiredsongs.html robertstepp.com/documents/Long_Beach_Economic_ Demographic_Profile_4.05.13.pdf Stone, Ken, vice president, The Austin Company The Associated Press — Phillip Rawls, July 1, 2012 (The San Diego Union-Tribune) The Austin Company archives The Boeing Company: A&M Environmental Technotes, May 1999 The Spokesman Review, June 23, 1978 — Everett approves Boeing Expansion U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission University of North Texas Digital Library Wemer, Colin, project manager, The Austin Company Wiegandt, Dan, manager of engineering, The Austin Company wikimapia.org/4006738/ Plant-42-Plant-10-Lockheed-Martin-Skunk-Works wikipedia.org (Consolidated Aircraft, B-24 Liberator, C-87 Liberator Express) Wikipedia — E-2D Hawkeye Wikipedia — Northrop Grumman www.456fis.org/Consolidated_Aircraft_Co.html www.aerospace.org/crosslinkmag/spring-2010/ market-forces/ www.af.mil/AboutUs/FactSheets/Display/tabid/224/ Article/104523/c-17-globemaster-iii.aspx www.ainonline.com/aviation-new/ air-transport/2016-02-12/ airbus-has-sweet-home-us-a320-production www.boeing.com/company/about-bca/everett-production-facility.page#/history www.boeing.com/defense/c-17-globemaster-iii/ www.boeing.com/history/products/delta-rocket.page


www.boeing.com/news/frontiers/archive/2004/august/ ts_sf.html www.boeing.com/news/frontiers/archive/2010/august/i_ history.pdf www.boldmethod.com/blog/lists/2014/11/16-littleknown-facts-about-the-boeing-747/ www.britannica.com/biography/ Glenn-Hammond-Curtiss www.businessalabama.com/Business-Alabama/ March-2014/Building-for-Building-Planes www.concretetech.com/project%20reports/boeingtunnel.html www.constructionweekonline.com/article-9044-top-10construction-world-record-holders/7/ www.dailybreeze.com/business/20140729/ first-boeing-team-finishes-its-work-on-the-last-c-17 www.defenseindustrydaily.com/ boeing-lockheed-merge-rocket-divisions-0458/ www.easyreadernews.com/75325/ aerospace-chronicles-industry-built-south-bay/ www.embraerexecutivejets.com/en-us/jets/legacy-450/ pages/overview.aspx www.embraerexecutivejets.com/en-us/jets/legacy-500/ pages/overview.aspx

www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-in-last-boeingc-17-takes-flight-as-california-aerospace-era-ends20151129-story.html www.library.ca.gov/crb/08/08-005.pdf www.lockheedmartin.com/content/dam/lockheed/data/ corporate/photo/multimedia/Innovation-with-Purpose. pdf www.lockheedmartin.com/us/aeronautics/skunkworks. html www.mh370investigation.com/2014/08/manufacturing-of-boeing-aeroplane-in.html www.onlineamd.com/article/austin-company-celebrates-100-years-aerospace-040516/ www.presstelegram.com/business/20140112/longbeach-a-history-of-hard-workers-making-big-important-things www.rbogash.com/Plant%202/Plant2.html www.ritchiewiki.com/wiki/index.php/ Boeing_Everett_Factory www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/ wrecking-ball-looms-for-historic-boeing-plant-2/ www.spacedaily.com/reports/Boeing_Advances_Delta_ IV_Development.html www.taphilo.com/history/wwii/usaaf/boeing/index.shtml

www.encyclopedia.com/topic/The_Austin_Company. aspx

www.theaustin.com/case-study/ boeing-company-747-aircraft-assembly-plant


www.theaustin.com/case-study/ boeing-company-747-aircraft-assembly-plant


www.theaustin.com/case-study/ lockheed-martin-palmdale-and-sunnyvale-california

www.heraldnet.com/apps/pbcs. dll/article?AID=/20120325/ BLOG48/703259916&template=PrinterFriendly

www.thespacereview.com/article/938/1 www.wow.com/wiki/Boeing

www.heraldnet.com/article/20160124/ NEWS01/160129689


www.history.com (American women in WWII)


www.kcet.org/socal-focus/ this-is-the-end-of-building-planes-in-long-beach

Building for a Century of Flight



Profile for The Austin Company

Building for a Century of Flight  

Commemorative book celebrating 100 years of design, engineering and construction excellence in the aviation, aerospace and defense industry.

Building for a Century of Flight  

Commemorative book celebrating 100 years of design, engineering and construction excellence in the aviation, aerospace and defense industry.

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