In November of 2018, Alaska Airlines unveiled its new hangar at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, built to house two of its largest Boeing 737 aircrafts. The new 100,000 square foot hangar is twice the size of the old facility, which dates back
to the 1950’s. It is part of Alaska Airlines “2020 Great Land Investment Plan,” an investment of over $100 million across the state of Alaska.
The challenge in making sure aircraft in Alaska are well-maintained is combating the state’s inclement weather and remote location. Alaska Airlines took these two challenges into account during the design of its new hangar, choosing to use more
than 72,000 square feet of insulated metal panels (IMPs).
The new hangar was designed by the Anchorage office of MCG Architecture, which chose to utilize Kingspan KS Micro-Rib panels. The project was completed on schedule and on budget.
“Our existing facility served us well for many years. But as we grow and add larger planes to our fleet, the time was right for us to upgrade our northernmost maintenance facility,” said Kurt Kinder, former Alaska Airlines vice president of
maintenance and engineering, on the company’s website.
The decision to use IMPs was due to several factors: schedule, durability, efficiency, the one-shot envelope and perhaps most important - speed. The designers specified large panels for the massive hangar – 34 feet long and four feet wide, using
24-gauge steel. Kingspan KS Micro-Rib panel’s corrugated structure helps prevent “oil canning,” an important factor for panels of that size.
The speed of IMPs was key in handling Alaska’s shortened construction season. Generally, earthwork stops in October and doesn’t begin again until March or April.
“Once we got the product on site it was very easy to install the panels and almost instantly have a building enclosure,” said Jason Gamache, principal architect and director of sustainability for MCG. “Any work inside the building, like
painting or concrete work that are temperature-sensitive, are schedule-dependent on us being able to close the building.”
IMPs also helped keep costs down by reducing the number of trades needed during construction, as well as reducing layers of operation. Immediately after installation, it was a finished assembly both inside and out.
A notable challenge the architects faced was the color of the panels. Alaska Airlines requested a specific shade of blue to meet the branding, and to match this color, Kingspan had to make a custom color. The airline only had this color in a digital version,
so it had to be translated in a printed color. After several rounds of color testing, there was a perfect match.
Sustainability was another goal that insulated metal panels helped with, as the building went through the LEED precertification process. Using a single product for cladding and insulation reduced a tremendous amount of waste.
“When we use drywall to finish the interior of a building, 15-percent of that ends up as waste – that’s material that was paid for and is going straight into the dump, and then you pay again for dump fees,” said Gamache.
The new hangar is designed to meet Alaska Airlines fleet additions for the next 30-50 years. It can house over 80 employees and was created to become the company’s new regional headquarters for the state of Alaska.