FAA Selects Sustainable Design for Tower Replacements

 - April 20, 2023, 10:41 AM
The FAA is opting for a sustainable design that can be tailored to local environments for replacement of air traffic control towers at small airports. (Rendition: the FAA)

The FAA is eyeing the potential replacement of 31 aging air traffic control towers, primarily at municipal and smaller airports, with newly designed sustainable facilities. Some $500 million was set aside from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for site evaluation, preparation, and early construction activities, the FAA said, adding construction could get underway in 2024.

A design from Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) of New York was selected for the towers, the agency said. Not only does the design conforms to construction and operational cost requirements, it also meets sustainability qualifications and can be height adjusted (between 60 to 119 feet) per traffic and sightline standards.

The upgraded towers would incorporate all-electric building systems, use materials free from chemicals that could pose health risks, have a thermally efficient fa├žade, rely on ground-source heating and cooling when possible, and be built with high-recycled steel and metal products and renewable mass timber when available. While the design has standardized elements to reduce costs, the buildings will be tailored to the location and local climate, the FAA said.

Initial towers slated for replacement are functioning beyond their intended design life and are located throughout the country, from Key West, Florida, to Bellingham, Washington. “These new air traffic control towers will mean that smaller airports can handle more flights, more sustainably, and more affordably,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.