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Anchorage set to boast tallest airport ATC tower in Alaska


Anchorage’s Ted Stevens International Airport is set to become home to Alaska’s tallest air traffic control tower following the unveiling of plans for a new 300ft high facility.

Designed by Stantec at the request of the FAA, the new airport traffic control tower (ATCT) and terminal radar approach control base building (TRACON) will provide air traffic control for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) and Lake Hood Seaplane Base, the world’s largest seaplane base.

ANC is the gateway to Alaska and the US with approximately 5.7 million passengers and more than three million tons of cargo passing through the airport each year.

The airport, including the future ATCT and TRACON, sits on the traditional land of the Dena’ina people.

Outgrowing the current tower

The current tower was constructed in 1977 and designed to accommodate only four air traffic controller positions. Since then, the airport added new runways, expanded its terminals, and increased the capacity of its cargo operations at ANC, which is the busiest cargo airport in the US and among the busiest in the world.

However, the substantial increase in aircraft movements created a need for more air traffic controllers, leading to tower overcrowding.

Air traffic control tower

The ATCT serves as the heart of airport operations at ANC, which is among the top five global airports for cargo throughput and home to the world’s busiest floatplane base.

When complete, the ATCT will be a feat of structural engineering and the tallest structure in Alaska at more than 300 feet tall, nearly twice as tall as the existing tower.

Clad with a durable metal panel rain-screen and glazing, the 12-sided cab will improve technology and viewing to control aircraft movements.

According to Stantec, its design addresses overcrowding, incorporating additional space for supervisory and support staff, as well as National Air Traffic Controllers Association representatives.

Terminal radar approach control base building

The two-story building, adjacent to the ATCT, serves as a base for radar-approach operations, environmental, and administrative functions. Stantec’s design for this 35,000-square-foot building will include a metal panel rain-screen exterior façade and a low wall and roof-to-floor area ratio to improve energy efficiency.

“It’s an honour to work with the Federal Aviation Administration again to upgrade the air traffic control and radar approach facilities at Anchorage International Airport,” said Alex Thome, principal in Stantec’s airport practice.

“This facility is critical to the future safe movement of millions of passengers and much of the air cargo entering and exiting the United States. Combining Stantec’s Alaska-specific design experience from our Anchorage staff with our global aviation-design expertise allows us to provide the FAA the best of both worlds.”

Resilient design in a challenging climate

The baseline elements of the ATCT design are strong, simple shapes without extraneous angles, a high-performance façade, and exterior finishes that are robust, virtually maintenance free, and exceedingly durable.

Most importantly, Stantec will focus on keeping the design of the ATCT/TRACON operationally efficient, emphasising design elements that support safety, sustainability, and the facility’s mission-critical purpose.

This Risk Category IV building will include floor plans that optimise operations and maintenance and include energy-efficient mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. Structurally, the ATCT will meet the needs of high seismic performance in a cold region to provide ANC staff with a safe and steady work environment in all conditions.

Seismic risks

This essential facility is in a highly seismic zone, requiring the new facilities’ design to accommodate significant ground motions with additional structural and life-safety precautions to keep air traffic controllers and FAA staff safe.

The airport’s original air traffic control tower was destroyed in the 1964 magnitude 9.2 earthquake, the most powerful ever in North America, and rebuilt in 1977.

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