With business from legacy clients and the addition of new—including international—clients, the 1990s were a period of continued growth. The office produced major projects for aviation, aerospace, and defense, as well as key projects in broadcasting and entertainment, newspaper printing, and publishing. This work, coupled with a significant contract with Southern California Edison and international projects in Japan, China, South Korea, and The Philippines, kept the office fully utilized.

Aviation, Aerospace, and Defense

In the 1990s, no market growth was greater for Austin than in aviation, aerospace, and defense. Austin worked on over 150 projects for multiple companies in the industry, including Boeing (and its heritage companies), BF Goodrich Aerospace and Rohr, Inc. (today both are a part of Collins Aerospace), Hughes Aircraft Company (now a part of Raytheon), Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman (and its heritage companies), totaling nearly $1 billion in today’s market.

Boeing Space Delta IV Launch Vehicle Manufacturing and Assembly Facility

The largest of these projects was for Boeing Space Systems. The project supported the race to win a large share of the rapidly growing space launch market. Already a key rocket supplier, McDonnell Douglas Aerospace (now a part of Boeing), headquartered in Huntington Beach, CA, selected Austin in early 1997 to begin conceptual design for a new rocket manufacturing plant. It was the first such facility in nearly 40 years and was designed to produce what would be its newest product, the Delta IV rocket series. Austin completed the conceptual design within five weeks and proceeded with further design and cost estimating.

In June, Austin was released on the preliminary design and development of a 1.5 million SF Satellite Launch Vehicle Production Center. In late November, Austin was awarded a design-build contract for the project partnering with J.S. Alberici of St. Louis, MO. Austin served as the A/E of record.

Design activities ramped up dramatically through March 1998. Austin’s A/E team refined the design through the application of value engineering and the use of principals identified with the worldwide trend toward the “Lean Aerospace Initiative.”

Following a demanding 26-month construction schedule, the facility was completed in late 1999, allowing initial production to begin in February 2000.

  • Over 2,000 drawings were issued for the project
  • Over 4 million cubic yards of earth were moved during grading and excavations
  • 14 miles of pilings were driven
  • At its peak height, the building soared to 140 feet and averaged 75 feet
  • Truss lengths up to 220 feet created clear spans and supported 33 bridge cranes with capacities of up to 30 tons
  • The entire facility was environmentally controlled to 72 degrees Fahrenheit 24/7/365
  • At its peak, the construction workforce numbered 1,400
  • In today’s market, the project would be valued at nearly $600 million

Today, the complex is operated by the United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint-venture company of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The complex produces the well-known Delta IV, Atlas V, and Vulcan Centaur rockets.

Boeing Sea Launch, Austin implemented upgrades to over 200,000 SF of existing facilities and constructed two new buildings, including a Payload Integration Facility at a 75-acre site formerly occupied by the U.S. Navy in Long Beach, CA. A project worth $40 million in today’s market.

Northrop Grumman. The 1990s was a busy time with a list of more than 50 projects in Southern California. Austin designed, engineered, and constructed facilities at Northrop Grumman’s El Segundo, CA facility to accommodate the relocation of B-21 Labs from Pico Rivera, CA. This project would amount to nearly $40 million in today’s market.

Austin has served Northrop Grumman in California and nationally since the 1960s – over 60 years.

During the 1990s, Austin also designed, engineered, and constructed multiple projects for Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems (Skunk Works). This included expansions to Buildings 636 and 637 in Palmdale, CA, (originally built by Austin in the late 1980s). Austin also supported Lockheed Advanced Development Company’s move to Palmdale.

Austin recently completed (Spring 2022) Lockheed Martin’s Building 648 Advanced Aerospace Manufacturing Center at the Palmdale complex, some 35 years following the 1980s relocation of Skunk Works to Palmdale.

Broadcasting and Entertainment

KPDX-TV, in Portland, OR

As the digital broadcast era began to take hold in the 1990s, Austin was active globally in new television broadcast facilities. Austin was instrumental in replacing aging 1950s facilities through modernization and upgrades to existing facilities.

Austin completed more than 60 projects for broadcasting and entertainment clients during the 1990s, including projects for ABS-CBN Broadcasting (Manila, Philippines), Fox Television, Meredith Corporation (Television Broadcasting), Munhwa Broadcasting (Seoul, Korea), National Broadcasting Company (NBC), Republic Broadcasting (Quezon City, Philippines), Tribune Broadcasting (KTLA-TV5), and The Walt Disney Company.

KPDX-TV, in Portland, OR

A prime example of the California office’s work during this time was two projects for Meredith Corporation. This work included a 45,800 SF television broadcast station, KPDX-TV, in Portland, OR, and a 53,900 SF television broadcast station, WGCL-TV, in Atlanta, GA.

Austin continued their relationship that had begun in 1988 with The Walt Disney Company. Austin undertook 25 design and engineering projects at Disneyland in this decade and our first construction project at the park, Tomorrowland.

Newspaper Printing and Publishing

Newspaper print circulation in the US peaked in the 1980s, and Austin’s business in this market was booming in the 1990s. Austin’s California office did work for Copley Newspapers (San Diego Union-Tribune, Torrance Daily Breeze, and multiple papers in Illinois), Cox Arizona Publications, The Daily News (in Valencia), Dow Jones & Co., Imperial Valley Press, Oxnard Press Courier, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, and West Coast Community Newspapers.

Southern California Edison

Southern California Edison

In 1997, Austin signed a major seven-year agreement with Southern California Edison as their sole facilities design, engineering, and construction partner. Between that signing and the end of 1999, Austin was awarded 95 projects. Representative projects included call centers, data center upgrades, a complete renovation of the Rosemead Headquarters (including a new central plant), regional service centers, training centers, and even a pole climbing school. Austin implemented more than $120 million in projects.

International Projects

Austin’s California office supported a series of international projects throughout the Pacific Rim. These included projects in Japan, China, South Korea, and The Philippines.

In Japan, Austin participated in six major projects in partnership with a consortium of Japanese companies as a part of the US/Japan construction agreement reached in May 1988. Under the agreement, the Japanese government ensured that American companies could participate in competing for the construction of public works, such as airport projects. Austin’s responsibilities on these projects included value engineering, selection of subcontractors, and construction management.

Projects included the 800,000 SF Wing B of the Asia and Pacific Trade Center located on Nanko Island in Osaka Harbor, a 290,000 SF passenger terminal at the Hiroshima Airport, and a 1.3 million SF air cargo terminal and baggage handling system at the Kansai Airport. The Kansai Airport project represented the largest civil construction project in which an American company participated since the US/Japan construction agreement was signed.

Other Industries

Other industries served by Austin Western in the 1990s included food and beverage, general manufacturing, and continued work for the U.S. Postal Service.

Join us next in the next blog as we discuss the 2000s.


Vice President and Project Executive

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