Through the Decades – The 1980s


The 1980s were a period of expansive growth for The Austin Company. Legacy clients continued to trust Austin with their facility design, engineering, and construction needs. And new clients in Aviation, Aerospace and Defense, Automotive, Broadcasting, and Entertainment benefited from Austin’s expertise.

Aviation, Aerospace, and Defense

·         Douglas Aircraft Company (today a part of Boeing)

Representative clients and projects during the 1980s included:

  • Douglas Aircraft Company (today a part of Boeing)
  • Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems
  • Lockheed Missiles and Space
  • Northrop Corporation (today, Northrop Grumman)
  • Northwest Airlines

Northrop Corporation (today, Northrop Grumman) Northwest Airlines

For Douglas Aircraft Company (a division of McDonnell Douglas Corporation – now a part of Boeing), Austin designed, engineered, and constructed a 1.1 million SF high-bay aircraft assembly building in Long Beach, CA.  (2022 Construction Value:  Over $400 million.) The complex produced the well-known C-17 Globemaster III airlifter.

For Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems (Skunk Works) Austin designed, engineered, and constructed two major projects:  a 200,000 SF composites manufacturing facility – Building 636 and a 125,000 SF metallic fabrication center – Building 637 in Palmdale, CA.  (2022 Construction Value:  Just under $250 million.)

The Skunk Works is well-known for its work in advanced aircraft design.  Austin recently completed (Spring 2022) Lockheed Martin’s Building 648 Advanced Aerospace Manufacturing Center at the Palmdale complex, [insert link to project profile] some 35 years following the relocation of Skunk Works to Palmdale in the 1980s.

Austin also did work for Lockheed Missiles and Space during the 1980s in Sunnyvale, CA, and at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

For Northrop Corporation, Austin designed, engineered, and constructed a 240,000 SF advanced production development center for the F-5G in Hawthorne, CA. (2022 Construction Value: Over $82 million.)

Austin has served Northrop Grumman in California and nationally on a nearly continuous basis since the 1960s.  Within the past ten years, Austin’s Western office led the implementation of three major projects for Northrop Grumman in Florida and California. Austin is presently working on multiple projects at Space Park in Redondo Beach, CA, where it has served Northrop Grumman for more than 35 years.


Toyota Motor Sales

Representative clients and projects during the 1980s included:

  • American Honda Motor Company
  • Toyota Motor Sales

For American Honda, Austin designed a series of Rider Education Centers for street and off-road motorcycles, ATVs, and SXS off-road vehicles. These facilities included plants located in Georgia, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas.

For Toyota, Austin designed and implemented the interiors for Toyota’s U.S. headquarters (then in Torrance, CA), and designed, engineered, and constructed a parts distribution center in San Ramon, CA.  (2022 Project Value: Over $75 million.)

Broadcasting and Entertainment

KVVU – Channel 5, Henderson, NV

Representative clients and projects during the 1980s included:

  • Meredith Corporation (Television Broadcasting)
  • National Broadcasting Company (NBC)
  • The Walt Disney Company

Austin continued its work in the broadcast industry begun in the 1930s, designing, engineering, and constructing a new 31,700 SF television broadcast station, KVVU-TV, in Henderson, NV for the Meredith Corporation.  This was the first in a series of new television broadcast facilities that Austin would do for Meredith across the country.  (2022 Value: Just under $12 million.)

For National Broadcasting Company (NBC)Austin continued its work at the Burbank Studio, which began in the 1950s, completing the site’s development.  Among other projects, Austin designed, engineered, and constructed the last new production studio – Studio 11, totaling 62,000 SF. (2022 Construction Value: Over $22 million.)

The Walt Disney Company. In 1988, Austin began a nearly 35-year service relationship with Disney at the Disneyland Resort that continues to this day.

Data and Operations Centers

Bank of America – Orange County

Representative clients and projects during the 1980s included:

  • Arizona Public Service
  • Cedar-Sinai Medical Center
  • Chevron Oil Field Research
  • Douglas Aircraft Company
  • First Security Company
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
  • Salt River Project
  • Security Pacific National Bank (today a part of Bank of America)
  • Southern California Edison

While the 1980s were big for Aviation, Aerospace, and Defense projects, it was also a momentous decade for Austin in Data and Operations Centers, with ten major projects (listed above) totaling millions of square feet.

Security Pacific National Bank. Representative of Data and Operations Center projects was Austin’s work for Security Pacific. Austin designed, engineered, and constructed a new 688,000 SF operations center in Brea, CA. This was the fourth data center for Security Pacific by Austin. Truly state-of-the-technology at the time, the operations center could process over 3 million checks per day, with an employee population of 2,500.  Operational reliability was critical.  Supporting this reliability was an uninterrupted power supply, served by a gas-turbine-powered cogeneration system, which produced all power required for the building (the public utility was the backup supply).  Although the Brea Operations center represented the leading edge of data-processing technology (in the 1980s), it was designed with the flexibility to accommodate future changes in technology. (2022 Construction Value: Over $325 million.)

Bank of America (including heritage Security Pacific National Bank) operated the facility for over 39 years – in recent years, as a call center.  In late 2021, Amazon acquired the facility for its use as a call center.  Photos of the building look the same as they did on that opening day in 1982.

Logistics / Distribution

US Army Lathrop, CA

Representative clients and projects during the 1980s included:

  • Kaiser Permanente
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Postal Service

For Kaiser Permanente, Austin designed, engineered, and constructed a central pharmacy facility in Downey, CA.

For the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Austin designed and engineered a series of three Area Oriented Supply Depots in California, Pennsylvania, and Texas.  Representative of these three depots is the Lathrop, CA facility serving ten Western states and the Pacific.  At 832,00 SF, the facility contains inventories of 157,950 small items and 83,600 pallet-size materials. Austin also implemented and installed computer-controlled warehouse material handling systems.

For the U.S. Postal Service, Austin designed and engineered a 318,000 SF General Mail Facility in Santa Ana, CA.

Other Industries

Other industries served by Austin in the 1980s included Food and Beverage, Newspapers, and Real Estate Development.

Join us next month as we discuss the 1990s.


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