New air traffic control tower to be tallest building in Alaska

Tower and radar operations building will be built to numerous upgrades to existing infrastructure, including earthquake protection
A new project is ramping up that will put a new name at the top of the list of tallest structures in the state.
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 9:59 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A new project is ramping up that will put a new name at the top of the list of tallest buildings in the state.

A new traffic control tower is scheduled to be built at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, replacing the old one that has been in operation since it was constructed in 1977.

The new tower will rise over 300 feet tall, almost twice as high as the current tower, according to Stantec, the engineering and design company that was selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to oversee the project. The current tallest building in Alaska is the Conoco-Phillips building in downtown Anchorage, which stands at 296 feet tall.

Stantec said the new tower will feature 12 sides to its viewing cab at the top, opening up more room and sight lines for traffic controllers than the current tower, which only accommodates four air traffic controller positions.

It’s a crucial step for traffic control at the airport, which is one of the busiest cargo airports in the world, and Lake Hood, the world’s busiest floatplane base. Stantec said about 5.7 million passengers and over 3 million tons of cargo pass through Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport each year.

“The position of the current tower was designed for the original terminal, and a lot of that activity now is towards, to the north, so they extended the runways and the big FedEx and UPS hubs require more central visibility,” Ross Timm, a project architect, said. “This will be a more centralized location for both the runways and Lake Hood.”

Construction will also include a terminal radar approach control base building, or TRACON, a two-story building that will sit adjacent to the tower. Stantec said the 35,000-square-foot building will house radar-approach operations, environmental, and administrative functions.

Stantec also said the tower will be engineered to withstand powerful earthquakes and extreme seismic events. Officials say the original traffic control tower at the airport was destroyed in the magnitude 9.2 earthquake that hit Southcentral Alaska in March 1964. The current one has also withstood its share of tremors, including the November 2018 quake that registered a 7.0 magnitude.

“This Risk Category IV building will include floor plans that optimize operations and maintenance and include energy-efficient mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems,” Stantec said in a statement. “Structurally, the (tower) 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.”

New traffic control tower to be tallest structure in Anchorage
New traffic control tower to be tallest structure in Anchorage(Courtesy Stantec)