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Unveiled> San Francisco International Airport
Fentress Architects and Hensel Phelps team up to design energy-efficient air traffic control tower
Courtesy Fentress Architects

San Francisco International Airport
Air Traffic Control Tower

Architect: Fentress Architects and Hensel Phelps
Client: San Francisco International Airport
Location: San Francisco
Completion: 2015

Sexy and solid best describe a new $102-million air traffic control tower currently rising between Terminals 1 and 2 of the San Francisco International Airport. Originally designed by HNTB Architecture, then turned over at 45 percent to the design-build team of Fentress Architects and Hensel Phelps, the structure is a 221-foot-tall, aluminum-clad, torch-shaped tower with an LED-lit glass incision.

Slotted between the terminals on a “postage-stamp sized lot,”as Fentress project manager Susan Cheek put it, the tower features a 650-square-foot controller work area and includes a three-story, 44,000-square-foot base for administrative offices and computer equipment. Solar panels, reflective roofing, and energy-efficient mechanical and electrical equipment will be incorporated to achieve LEED Gold status. A secure corridor runs between the terminals and allows transiting passengers a skylight view of the new tower without permitting access.

The tower is built to withstand a magnitude 8.0 earthquake and incorporates a post-tension system that prevents it from swaying even in strong gales. “It’s one solid piece of architecture,” commented Cheek. An upgrade to a 1980s tower no longer within seismic standards, the structure will house NextGen satellite technology that handles takeoffs and landings more efficiently. Construction will be completed by August 2014 and the tower will be fully operational in 2015.

Carren Jao