Long lines. Flight delays. Ever-changing security regulations. It’s hard enough for passengers to negotiate the confusion of an airport. Now imagine you’re a construction company tasked with a major renovation of that facility — a renovation that must happen while the airport stays up and running, providing service to hundreds of passengers a day.
That was the challenge faced by Cornerstone General Contractors Inc., which was selected by Alaska Airlines for a $4.2 million renovation of its 12,500-square-foot terminal in Kodiak. As the airport’s busiest terminal, serving over 67,000 passengers in 2016, it was imperative that the Alaska Airlines terminal stay open while Cornerstone led its team of subcontractors through the renovation, which began in August 2016.
The project is part of the airline’s Alaska Facilities Reinvestment Program, a multiyear initiative aimed at improving the design and function of Alaska Airlines’ 11 facilities in the state.
Keeping the terminal operating while the airline maintained service, despite the construction, meant getting creative.
“We’re used to working in tight spaces, but this was a new element, being an occupied space as well,” said Cornerstone Field Engineer Wayne Flesch. “Somewhere in the neighborhood of about 500 people go through here a day.”
Cornerstone strategically sectored off small portions of the building, trying to focus its work on one section at a time. Anyone who has traveled through Kodiak’s Alaska Airlines terminal, though, knows the building was small, so construction crews had to complete their work in extremely constricted spaces.
Cornerstone’s team alleviated congestion by reaching out to neighboring businesses, which accommodated passengers by providing waiting areas during construction.
One of the biggest challenges turned out to be maintaining a functioning bathroom inside the facility for the duration of the project.
“The tight space wasn’t just hard on us but on the passengers too, so we tried to mitigate it the best we could,” Flesch said. Part of the solution was to work nights as often as possible.
“We also built the new bathrooms, which are in a new location, before we closed down the old ones,” added Joe Jolley, president of Cornerstone. “We focused on turning over the new spaces before we took away the old ones so the passengers weren’t as impacted by the construction.”
In addition to the passengers who pass through the terminal daily, Cornerstone juggled accommodating Alaska Airlines and Ravn Alaska, both of which operate out of that terminal, as well as the U.S. Department of Transportation and TSA. “Trying to renovate a functioning airport is quite a hurdle when you take into account all the IT, all the building systems, all the safety systems and ground-to-air radios that have to be 100 percent functional the whole time during construction,” Flesch said.
Despite those hurdles, the result is a complete overhaul. “When people walk in the building, nothing will be familiar,” Jolley said.
The renovation includes new bathrooms, new ceilings and walls, a new baggage carousel system for baggage return and full LED lighting. Cornerstone also upgraded and reconfigured the ticketing area, TSA passenger and baggage screening, hold rooms and other support areas.
“One of the most special-order products we used in this building was the flooring system,” Flesch said. “It’s a resin flooring application from Stonhard, and it’s actually quite the hurdle to place in a functioning space, but it’s nearly indestructible, and it’s got a nice, distinct wave pattern. It’s a very clean, easy-to-maintain flooring system.”
On the outside, new durable exterior paint in the airline’s colors was applied. A new ADA-compliant ramp and entry stairs, energy-efficient doors and windows, and new overhead doors in the cargo area were also installed.
Slated to be completed in May, the project recently underwent trenching for the placement of new fiber optic lines and a new power supply.
Major subcontractors include Midnight Sun Electric, Klebs Mechanical, Great Alaska Flooring Inc., Carl’s Drywall & Paint LLC, Elite Acoustics, B&R Fish By Products (civil), Five Star Airport Alliance Inc. and Stonhard Inc. Team partners include Alaska Airlines Kodiak, RSA Engineering Inc. and architect Jae Shin with KPB Architects.
“It was a challenging job but a fun project nonetheless,” said Brian Ginder, project manager. “The people of Kodiak have really been team players, taking it all in stride, especially the staff at the airport in Kodiak. They’re really second to none, really supportive of what we’re trying to do, and we’ve done our best to accommodate them. They’re stellar teammates.
“The work itself was really straightforward, but the element of keeping the facility open was the challenge, and those guys have been great in supporting us to do that.”
Jamey Bradbury is a freelance writer who lives in Anchorage.
The exterior of the Alaska Airlines terminal is being painted as preparations are made to upgrade the main entrance and cargo receiving areas. This view is from the public parking lot; the tarmac is on the opposite side of the building.