New Landmark on the Horizon at SFO

SFO Replacement Airport Traffic Control Tower by Fentress Architects

San Francisco, California (January 10, 2014) – At San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Design-Build Team will top out the steel erection for the new world-class Replacement Airport Traffic Control Tower and Integrated Facilities Building. Traditionally, when the last steel beam is hoisted into place, a topping out ceremony is held to mark a milestone in the construction of a building. On January 14, 2014, the final beam will be signed by trades-people, the design-build team and airport stakeholders. Then an evergreen tree and an American Flag will be attached to the beam before it is hoisted in place by crane.

The new iconic tower for SFO that will serve as a beacon and “gateway to the Pacific” sits directly between Terminals 1 and 2 and provides a progressive look at the curbside and in the public landside corridor between terminals. The 220-foot tower includes all the functions of a state-of-the-art FAA airport traffic control tower. Also included is an Integrated Facility in its base building for offices, support, and other airport functions.

The new work includes improvements to the connections between the recently-renovated Terminal 2 and Terminal 1, which will be renovated in the near future. The tower rises out of a three-story, 44,000-square-foot base building, that will house the FAA’s administrative offices, the most technologically-advanced computer equipment, and corridors through which passengers can transit between terminals. Given the prominent location and high visibility, the tower will be the first image traveling passengers see, whether by land or air. At night the tower features a backlit vertical band that will not only be visually appealing but also serve as a San Francisco landmark.


The existing Airport Traffic Control Tower no longer meets the current seismic design safety standards. Located only 2.5 miles east of the Northern San Andreas Fault, the new  tower is designed to withstand a magnitude 8.0 earthquake. The new tower boasts the tallest application of vertically post–tensioned self centering concrete, with 26 ducts composed of 15 to 19 strands each, ensuring the safety for technical operations of the controllers atop the tower. Underground there are 215 reinforced piers that are embedded in bedrock 140 feet deep topped by a 7-foot thick reinforced concrete mat. Twenty seven hundred (2,700) cubic yards of concrete was poured into the mat over a period of 14 hours.

Tower Cab

The 650-square-foot tower cab has an innovative 235-degree column free view assuring no view obstructions for the FAA controllers.


Solar panels, eco-friendly and efficient mechanical and electronic systems, along with sustainable building materials are being used in anticipation of reaching the LEED Gold certification. There is also a rooftop garden terrace nestled into the design that serves as an area for employees to take a break surrounded by living plants.

Job Growth

It is estimated that more than 400 construction jobs and more than 200 support positions have been created during the construction of the tower and associated facilities.

Construction Completion: November 2014
Size: ATCT & IFB: 54,150 Gross Square Feet
Expected Annual Visitors: 40,907,389
Architect of Record: Fentress Architects in association with HNTB
General Contractor: Hensel Phelps Construction
Structural Engineer of Record: Walter P. Moore in association with Rutherford and Chekene