CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- January 24, 2017 – The Metal Construction Association (MCA) awarded San Francisco International Airport (SFO) Control Tower in San Francisco, California its 2016 Chairman’s Award in the Municipal category.

The design of San Francisco International Airport’s new airport traffic control tower not only focused on functional goals – including withstanding a magnitude 8.0 earthquake, offering maximum sightlines and accommodating state-of-the-art electronics – it also needed to serve as an iconic airport symbol.

The resulting 221-foot-tall 5,652-square-foot shimmering-metal tower features a geometrically complex design resembling a sweeping torch that is topped with an offset control cab – the latter providing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic controllers with an unobstructed 270-degree view of airport runways and taxiways. The tower is the tallest vertical self-centering post tension concrete structure in the United States and is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) was the option chosen to clad the tower, with a total of 10,000 square feet of formable 4mm ACM painted in the custom SFO Silver color by 3A Composites USA. Recyclable Alucobond, which is manufactured with both post-manufacturing and post-consumer content, contributes LEED credits to building projects.

The west face of the airport control tower is “opened” vertically with a backlit glass façade that stretches 147 feet high to create a local visual landmark. Situated above a new three-story FAA office building and walkways connecting two terminals, the open-core design allows passengers to gaze directly up into the tower through corridor skylights to view the cascading waterfall lighting. The tower lighting can be changed based on the mood of the airport. For example, LED colored lighting transforms the tower in recognition of holidays and special events.

“It looks like some sort of a floral shape. It is really interesting to see something like that rendered in metal. It’s a total contradiction to the form but I think it works and looks really interesting. And it’s a big departure from your traditional control tower concept,” said MCA judge Mark Dewalt AIA, Principal, Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, Chicago, Illinois.

The torch design is reminiscent of the historic pier torches utilized in the 1800s to guide ships to port in San Francisco Bay, according to Curtis Fentress, FAIA, RIBA, president, CEO and principal-in-charge of design, Fentress Architects.

The award was announced at a special ceremony during the MCA Winter Meeting, held in Weston, Florida from January 23-25, 2017. The annual 3-day event fosters industry collaboration, networking and growth in the metal construction industry.

The Chairman’s Awards are given to the year’s most exceptional building projects involving MCA member companies based on overall appearance, significance of metal in the project, innovative use of metal, and the role of metal in achieving project objectives

Recipients for these awards are selected each year from projects submitted by MCA members to Metal Architecture Magazine’s annual Design Awards Program. The honorees were chosen by a panel of professional architects, which included Mark Dewalt, AIA, Principal, Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, Chicago, Illinois; Mark Horton, FAIA, Principal, Mark Horton/Architecture, San Francisco, California; and Brent Schipper, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, ASK Studio, Des Moines, Iowa.

The 2016 MCA Chairman’s Awards were given in eight categories: overall excellence; residential; metal roofing; education, primary and secondary schools; education, colleges and universities; institutional; municipal; and commercial/industrial.

Project Recognition

Building Owner: San Francisco International Airport (SFO), a department of the City and County of San Francisco
MCA Member Manufacturer: 3A Composites USA Inc.
Master Architect: HNTB, Los Angeles, California
Architect of Record: Fentress Architects, Denver, Colorado
Contractor: Hensel Phelps Construction Co., San Jose, California
Metal Installer: Pacific Erectors, Inc., Rocklin, California
Metal Fabricator: Keith Panel Systems Co. Ltd., North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

About the Metal Construction Association

The Metal Construction Association brings together a diverse industry for the purpose of expanding the use of metal in construction through marketing, research, technology, and education. Companies involved in MCA gain tremendous benefit from association activities that focus on research, codes and standards, market development, and technical programs. MCA’s market development efforts increase the use of metal materials in construction through the education of the building and design communities regarding the benefits of metal.

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