Seattle-Tacoma International Airport – International Arrivals Facility

The artful, technologically-advanced new facility nearly doubles the airport’s capacity to swiftly process international flights. For travelers, the design offers intuitive navigation and a sublime connection to the landscape of the Pacific Northwest.

Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2022
  • Design Finish Year 2019
  • Size Site Area: 220,000 square feet Building Height: 115 feet Number of Stories: 3 Building Gross Area: 494,839 square feet
  • Awards 2021, Excellence in Structural Engineering - New Bridges or Transportation Structures, National Council of Structural Engineers Association
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED BD+C NC (New Construction) Silver, BD+C, Silver
  • Collaborators
    Arup Group Limited The Miller | Hull Partnership Patano Studio Architecture Clark Construction Group, LLC KPFF Consulting Engineers Schlaich Bergermann Und Partner
Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2022
  • Design Finish Year 2019
  • Size Site Area: 220,000 square feet Building Height: 115 feet Number of Stories: 3 Building Gross Area: 494,839 square feet
  • Awards 2021, Excellence in Structural Engineering - New Bridges or Transportation Structures, National Council of Structural Engineers Association
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED BD+C NC (New Construction) Silver, BD+C, Silver
  • Collaborators
    Arup Group Limited The Miller | Hull Partnership Patano Studio Architecture Clark Construction Group, LLC KPFF Consulting Engineers Schlaich Bergermann Und Partner

Greater capacity, more flexibility

The International Arrivals Facility (IAF) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) replaces a fifty-year-old arrivals facility with a dynamic structure that is nearly five times larger, dramatically improves the passenger experience, and readies the airport to nimbly adapt to future demands. Flexibility is the defining principle of the design: the project involved reconfiguring the existing Concourse A to create a dual-purpose aircraft secure corridor that is able to serve both international and domestic flights. This increases the number of gates capable of receiving international wide-body aircraft from 12 to 20. The IAF also offers a faster, more enjoyable arrivals process in a 450,000-square-foot multi-level space that can smoothly accommodate the arrival of 2,600 passengers an hour.

© Dave Burk | SOM
© Dave Burk | SOM

A record-setting aerial walkway

After long international flights, travelers ascend 85 feet to cross a soaring glass-enclosed aerial walkway with panoramic views of the Pacific Northwest. The walkway replaces a windowless underground train connection between the buildings. Spanning 780 feet, the pedestrian bridge is the longest structure across an active taxilane in the world, surpassing the previously held record by Gatwick Airport in London. The design team developed a unique system that allows for maximal daylight, expansive views, and an efficient flow from the S Concourse to the International Arrivals Facility. This was achieved through an elegant hybridization of cable-stayed and king post truss designs. The configuration allowed for the center span of the bridge to be fabricated off-site, and then hoisted into place at a late stage of construction. Airport operations were able to continue with minimal interruptions using this phased approach.


Improving the passenger experience

The building design minimizes connection times and provides direct access to ground transportation for passengers staying in the region. The facility achieves efficiency with new, reconfigured, and expanded systems. The Grand Hall houses a Bags First U.S. Customs and Border Protection system–the first of its kind in a major hub airport, which streamlines the customs and arrival process. With 1,806 linear feet of baggage carousel, the Grand Hall baggage claim capacity is nearly triple that of the former facility. The new hall has also increased the number of passport check podiums at SEA from 30 to 80.

© Dave Burk | SOM

This is an all-new welcome to our region and airport for an international traveler, and it’s a dramatic improvement. Everything from the views out the windows, the iconic walkway, and the intuitiveness of the facility make this an exceptional customer experience.


Pacific Northwest placemaking

The design immediately situates travelers within their new geographic context. The aerial walkway is designed to immerse arriving travelers in 360-degree views of Mount Rainier, and the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges. The IAF, visible from the bridge, has a sweeping roof which tilts and arcs reflecting the motion of a landing plane, creating large windowed expanses underneath. In a place where northern sunlight breaks through clouds at low angles and glistens across often-wet surfaces, the design maximizes natural light, bright reflective finishes, and elevated views. 

© Lucas Blair Simpson | SOM

Materials throughout the facility reference distinctive elements of the Pacific Northwest–its rich organic terrain, and topography carved by glacial scouring. The Grand Hall features a terrazzo floor with local stones, and Douglas fir clads the thresholds. Many materials were sourced within 100 miles of SEA as part of the Port of Seattle’s emphasis on environmental stewardship. As passengers depart the Passport Control area, an exit path alongside a grove of evergreen trees, which culminates at ground level in a landscaped creek with native ferns and plantings nested between granite slabs.


Integrating public art

Complementing the architecture, the art commissioned for the IAF evokes the spirit of aviation and the character of the Pacific Northwest. An intricate topographical map of Mount Rainier by SOM’s graphics + brand studio greets visitors before passport check. Travelers are greeted by new additions to the airport’s public art collection such as “Magnetic Anomaly,” a set of three kinetic artworks created by Ned Kahn, spins in suspension over the Grand Hall. Artist Marela Zacarías drew inspiration from the sunsets and waterways of the San Juan Islands for Chalchiutlicue,” a five-piece sculpture which floats above baggage claim carousels.