Flying Heritage Collection
Clear communication kept the project on track.
Butler helped accelerate construction while delivering a unique design.
Setting The Stage
The building needed to match the quality of the machines it housed.
A Boyhood Obsession Takes Flight
New Space Houses Expanding Collection Of Rare Aircraft
Paul Allen made his fortune in the technology industry as co-founder of Microsoft Corp., but he grew up keenly interested in airplanes and flight, thanks in large part to his father. Allen, the 43rd wealthiest person in the world according to Forbes, spent his childhood building World War II model airplanes with his father while listening to stories about his military service.
With seemingly endless wealth at his disposal, Allen’s generosity often is visible in his commitment to giving the public hands-on history lessons. Look no further than the Flying Heritage Collection (FHC), a premier aviation attraction featuring Allen’s collection of restored airplanes, mainly combat aircraft from World War II, to see that generosity come to life.
Too Many Birds For One Nest
Located at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, the FHC sits among several important aviation museums as well as a major Boeing construction facility — making it the highlight of what many consider to be the hotbed for aviation enthusiasts.
The FHC features rare military aircraft, including planes from Germany, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The collection highlights some of the most important and iconic military machines of the 20th century. After opening the FHC in 2004, Allen added to his airplane collection until his acquisition rate outpaced the available space in the original facility, a 1940s-era hangar.
Networking and the Butler® Connection
As Allen’s parent company, Vulcan Inc., searched for a builder to expand the original FHC, it was important to Allen that the building be more than just a metal hangar for restored airplanes. The building needed to be special, appeal to the public and match the quality of the machines it housed.
Vulcan’s design and construction team reached out to Butler Manufacturing™ for recommendations on builders in the area. Butler suggested Vulcan get in touch with Ryan General Contractors, a 20-year Butler Builder® from Woodinville, Washington, specializing in design-build construction across the Northwest.
“Vulcan has a high level of understanding for engineering, and they demanded quality. We were able to show them the Butler roofing system, how it’s superior to other manufacturers and demonstrate how Butler is a cut above from an engineering standpoint. That sealed the deal.”
Ryan McIntosh, Ryan General Contractors (RGC)
Form Matches Function
The project’s needs went beyond the addition of space for airplanes. The FHC requested a theater that would seat up to 50 people, along with a reception area for merchandising opportunities. RGC worked with Vulcan and Concept Architecture, LLC, to ensure the new structure complemented the original facility.
“We liked that the building materials were pre-engineered without being cookie-cutter, which sped up the building process. Beyond that, it was impressive how well the new building and the old building blended together.”
Liz Davidson, Flying Heritage Collection
There was another functional design requirement: two 80-foot hangar doors. Because the planes are fully restored and taken out regularly to fly, the aircraft frequently are on the move. It’s not the standard museum environment where planes stay put.
“The building, while industrial in nature, is pretty commercial, and it doesn’t take away from the incredible machinery it’s home to. This was such an exciting project because we were able to bring exposure to an amazing collection of planes.”
Ryan McIntosh, RGC
RGC went above and beyond to keep the project on schedule. The company even moved a project manager into a camper on-site to stay on top of the project. This on-site commitment, along with RGC’s direct line of communication with Butler staff, impressed Vulcan while also driving building efficiencies.
Beyond great design and facility functionality, the FHC achieved LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program by incorporating reused materials and LED lighting. With Allen’s commitment to collecting and restoring planes showing no signs of slowing down, there looks to be great opportunity for the continued partnership between RGC and Vulcan.
“This expansion allowed us to grow the collection from 12 aircraft to 19. We definitely have more planes coming.”
Liz Davidson, Flying Heritage Collection
Images were photographed by Tim Rice