Airport Towers: A New Generation

by Lee Harper, (M.ASCE), Assoc. Vice Pres.; Holmes & Narver, Inc., 999 Town & Country Road, Orange, CA 92668,
Joseph M. Madda, Mngr. of Arch.; Holmes & Narver, Inc., 999 Town & Country Road, Orange, CA 92668,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1993, Vol. 63, Issue 11, Pg. 65-67

Document Type: Feature article


Airport control towers are a unique building type with monumental significance, both for the cities that own and operate the airports, and for the FAA which owns and operates them. Airport expansion has made many towers obsolete in size, siting and technology. New control towers soon to be constructed at Chicago and Los Angeles typify the Federal Aviation Administration's 20 year plan for modernizing the national control system. A tower cab is basically a single room, glazed on all sides, filled with sophisticated electronics and located high up for maximum views of the surrounding runways. Supporting the cab is a shaft structure which generally contains only stairs, elevators and necessary utility spaces. Adjoining each tower is an administrative and/or a Terminal Radar Approach Control base building, usually from one to five stories high and up to 50,000 sq ft. The towers merit special status in most building codes, but some municipalities have more stringent ordinances. All, however, must be designed to remain on line in all weather and survive earthquakes, fire and other destructive events.

Subject Headings: Airports and airfields | Federal government | Control systems | Airport and airfield pavements | Shafts | Stairs | Elevators | Space structures | United States | Chicago | Illinois | Los Angeles | California

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