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Artist concept NFIC-Future of Flight Aviation Center

The Future of Flight Aviation Center is built


In September 2004, from among seven bidders the county selected the Howard S. Wright company to build the facility. The airport had had some sewer line installation work done in late 2003. Construction of the building itself began on November 1, 2004. It proceeded on schedule and within budget.

Initially there was not enough money in the budget for the observation deck and an elevator and an interior staircase to it. An additional $1.8 million from the PFD enabled inclusion of these features. A couple of months before construction was completed, Governor Christine Gregoire visited the site. Barry Smith described to her the terrific view visitors could see from the top of the building. The Governor asked how she could get up to that location, and proceeded to gamely climb up ladders to the roof. Taking in the panorama, she said, “Now I really know what you mean.”

The project was honored by Northwest Construction magazine as the “Best Public/Private Project of 2005,” based on criteria including safety, innovation, and contribution to the community. The awards article mentioned the use of a Grasspave permeable surface system in the parking lot and the installation of a Rainstore chamber to collect runoff and recharge ground water resources (rather than the usual retention ponds, which would attract birds – a hazard to the aircraft taking off and landing nearby).

Several concepts were considered for the new facility, including connecting the building to a Boeing 747, parking a Boeing 727 and a B-52 bomber at the entrance,and having separate “aircraft-exhibit hangar” and museum buildings. Freiheit and Ho of Bellevue and Krei Architecture of Seattle produced the final design, which was a single building.

At the same time that the Future of Flight was being built, a Hilton Garden Inn was constructed across the street to the north. It opened in October, 2005

The completed Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour had 73,000 square feet of interior space. Within the new building were:

  • A 28,000 square-foot, 48-foot tall gallery for exhibits and displays;
  • A 9,000 square-foot rooftop observation deck overlooking Paine Field, with a panoramic view of the Cascade Mountains in the distance to the east, Possession Sound, Mt. Baker to the north, and Mt. Rainier to the south.
  • Conference space for 250 people; special event space for groups of up to 1400 people;
  • A 125 seat café;
  • The Future of Flight Gift Shop;
  • The Boeing Tour center, where visitors start and finish their visit to the plant in which The Boeing Company assembles its 747, 767, 777 and 787 airplanes, including
    • A 240 seat theater,
    • The Boeing Store,
  • Office space

The north side of the building is set into a slope (Barry Smith’s “small hill”), so that the public entrance is on the second floor. The lobby, ticket and information counters, the Future of Flight Gift Shop, restrooms, Foundation offices, Boeing Tour offices, conference rooms, café, the Boeing Tour theater, and the Boeing Store are on that upper level. The lobby area overlooks the exhibit gallery, which is on the lower, first floor – at the same level as the runway ramp area that abuts the building’s south side.

The Future of Flight’s address is 8415 Paine Field Blvd., Mukilteo, WA 98275. Paine Field is mostly within the city of Everett and unincorporated Snohomish County, but a small triangular portion of its northwest corner is in the city of Mukilteo. The municipal boundary line cuts north-south across the Future of Flight building just about in the middle.