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ORD Progress Report – New South Airfield Air Traffic Control Tower Takes Shape

April 26, 2014 Airport No Comments Email Email

If you’ve been around O’Hare International Airport recently, you may have notice a tall structure beginning to take shape on the airfield.

South Airport Traffic Control Tower (SATCT)under construction at O'Hare

South Airport Traffic Control Tower (SATCT)under construction at O’Hare

One year ago this month, the contract for construction of the new South Airport Traffic Control Tower (SATCT) was awarded to Walsh Construction Company II.  Since then, the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP) team has been working around the clock to ensure that this facility is ready for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to begin the installation of their necessary equipment, currently scheduled for early next year.  This Tower will allow FAA controllers to manage the traffic on Runway 10R/28L, scheduled to be commissioned in October 2015.

The SATCT consists of the tower shaft building, ATC cab and base building.  With a unique architectural design, the tower shaft expresses itself with an open (see through) staircase protected from the environment by a continuous curtain wall.  The cab, which is currently under construction, will sit approximately 205 feet off the ground.  When completed, the South Tower will reach 219 feet.

Construction of the facility is currently approaching 60 percent completion with the concrete core and shell finished and work on the cab structure now underway. In fact, the OMP recently achieved a major milestone in the construction of this facility when the first section of steel for the tower cab was raised to the top of the concrete shaft and placed in its ultimate position.

CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino (center), senior staff and construction team at the top of the SATCT

CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino (center), senior staff and construction team at the top of the SATCT

As part of the project, BIM (Building Information Modeling) – an intelligent 3D model-based system, was used to coordinate the components so they fit neatly into their desired locations. Mechanical and electrical work will continue for several months, and finish elements will soon begin to take shape. In addition, exterior construction of metal panels on the base building and a glass curtain wall system on the tower will soon follow.

This facility follows the O’Hare model for sustainable design and construction guidelines as prescribed by the CDA Sustainable Airport Manual (SAM).  The base building will have a vegetated roof and the entire facility will rely on a geothermal heat exchange, a first at O’Hare which will reduce the building’s power demand during all-weather conditions.  Other green initiatives include sustainable site features, efficient water usage, energy performance optimization, selection of local and regional materials, use of recycled resources, and diversion of waste from landfills. The project is expected to receive a LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The FAA has committed more than $33 million to fund the total project’s cost of $40 million, including the enabling work.

Approximately 50 construction and 16 professional service jobs have been created per outfitted with three airport traffic control towers (north, central and south).

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