2016 Grand Conceptor Award Winner

Air Traffic Control Tower & Integrated Facility, San Francisco, CA

Walter P Moore, San Francisco, CA

To view descriptions of the top 2016 winners, and the listing of all National Recognition Award winners by state, click here.


The dazzling new air traffic control tower for the nation’s seventh busiest airport features pioneering seismic engineering that provides both toppling resistance and a self-centering capability during an earthquake. The previous tower was temporarily knocked out of commission during the 6.9 magnitude 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake compromising air safety.

With the San Francisco airport situated just four miles from the San Andreas Fault, the new tower features a cast-in-place; reinforced concrete core cylinder with an innovative vertical post-tensioning system designed to withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. When large seismic forces cause the core to bend, the post-tensioning strands will respond by applying a clamping that works to snap the tower back to its initial position.

The tower design also utilizes a tuned mass damping system — two 40,000-pound steel damper blocks installed below the cab — to limit sway of the slender tower during high winds common in the region, and to increase comfort of air traffic controllers.




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