FAA Call-Out: Design a Sustainable Control Tower

Think you can design a cost-efficient, sustainable air traffic control tower?

The Federal Aviation Administration, (FAA) has more than 100 aging control towers at regional and municipal airports across the United States that will need to be replaced. So, the agency is launching a nationwide solicitation for a new design for control towers that can be built and operated sustainably.

The FAA points to the tower at Tucson International Airport (TUS) as an example of a sustainable tower building already in operation. The TUS tower is the first air traffic facility with net-zero energy consumption. It uses a 1,600-panel solar farm to generate power for all of its electrical needs. And it supplies unused power back to the grid. The solar farm also produces ice, which is stored in large containers and used to cool the building when solar panels are not generating electricity. 

You can read about the deadlines and the solicitation phases for the new tower RFP here.

But even if you’re not an architect or an engineer, note that the last time the FAA invited architectural firms to develop a modular design concept for new control towers it hired the company headed by then rising architect I.M. Pei. Several of the 16 Pei-designed towers—including at Chicago O’Hare, Sacramento, Madison, and Jacksonville international airports—are still operating.

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