San Francisco International Airport Replacement Airport Traffic Control Tower
San Francisco    

Owner San Francisco International Airport
Lead Designer Fentress Architects
Contractor Hensel Phelps Construction Co.
Structural Engineer Walter P. Moore

The design-build team of Hensel Phelps and Fentress Architects delivered the first air traffic control tower to employ a performance-based seismic design with vertical post-tensioning. It is also the tallest vertically post-tensioned structure in California, according to the team. The design was selected to provide a high-performance economical system that uses relatively easy-to-construct technology.

The control tower’s system consists of 26 vertical post-tension cables to support a height of 221 ft. A 650-sq-ft cab sits atop the tower with a 270-degree column-free view of the airfield. The cab glass enclosure consists of 24 6-ft by 11-ft panels. The tower core includes more than 1,100 cu yd of concrete. The core is surrounded by a three-story, 42,000-sq-ft integrated facilities building, which sits on 213 auger grout cast piles placed 140 ft deep.

The design-build team worked through a series of additions and changes during the project while continually providing updated budget information. Many of the additions to the scope could have negatively impacted the schedule. Team collaboration to address these issues saved the overall project an estimated $7 million over the course of design and construction.

Changes and additions to the project scope accounted for a 70% deviation from the initial estimated cost from the FAA and the airport. A progressive guaranteed maximum price contract was chosen because the team anticipated that the project would evolve. The schedule was also a driving force for the team, so the FAA agreed to use design-build for the first time on an air traffic control tower project.

The $142-million project also included a new secure connector bridge between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 as well as a non-secure corridor between Terminals 1 and 2.

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