San Francisco Int'l Airport Air Traffic Control Tower
Engineering Safer Skies: Innovative structural design makes SFO travelers safer
The seventh-busiest airport in North America, San Francisco International (SFO) is also one of the most challenging for air traffic controllers who safely guide more than 1,000 aircraft daily on four runways. New technologies and a seismically vulnerable existing tower — just four miles from the San Andreas Fault — led SFO to develop a new facility that exemplifies structural engineering innovation as it provides a safe, stable, and best-in-class workspace for controllers.
The iconic new structure is the first air traffic control tower delivered through a partnership between an airport and the FAA. Structural engineer Walter P Moore established several industry milestones with the tower design.
- First application in an air traffic control tower of a vertical post-tensioned system to self-right the structure
- Performance-based seismic design assures tower remains operational after a magnitude 7.5 earthquake
- Tuned mass damper system limits perceived sway accelerations during high winds
- First application of tuned mass dampers in a seismically controlled structure
- Tallest vertical post-tensioned structure in California
The distinctive, offset circular cab ensures unobstructed views of all four runways and includes the latest technological advancements in air traffic control, increasing safety for the 47 million annual travelers through SFO.
For more detail about the San Francisco International Airport Air Traffic Control Tower, see our case study.