Air Traffic Control Tower
Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, Lakeland, Florida
"Alpha Tango" calls over the radio, 12-stories up in the sunshine from the Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) at Lakeland Airport. It’s a great place to catch a scenic Saturday afternoon. After a few years of design and engineering, this particular project was one that stayed on my desk while I was an employee of Atkins Global from the very beginning until the very end. From every challenging obstacle that was thrown our way, the design team worked with the Lakeland Airport, FAA, and the contractors, Walbridge to complete this new 141-foot air traffic control tower, which features an octagonal shaped glass cab that measures 35 feet wide with five controller stations. It was replaced by the previous 50--foot tower that was constructed in the late 1970's.
As the structural engineer of record for the 13-story tower, I was responsible for the overall structural design of the structural steel control cab, precast panel construction, and the foundation system, with 25 concrete piles driven 25-35 feet into the ground. The goal of the project was to provide Lakeland Airport with a new ATCT that would provide a better viewing of the entire runway for the traffic controllers as well create an iconic symbol for the second largest air show in the country, SUN-n-FUN International Fly-in & Expo.
One of the cool construction processes that I wanted to share is the concurrent fabrication of the square precast erection with the structural steel cab. To speed up the construction process to make the opening of the tower before the April 2016 SUN-n-FUN, Walbridge erected the structural steel cab on the ground while the precast walls and floor panels were being hoisted up to the 12th floor. Once all the precast concrete structure was in place, the entire structural steel cab with its metal decking was engineered to be hoisted up and set on the top of the square shaft. This pick-up day was a milestone for the construction schedule and reduced the entire structure to be erected in less than five weeks. Once all the structure was complete, the glazing, blue metal panels, interiors finishing, technical, electrical, and fire protection equipment was all installed over the next few months.
As a member of the Florida community, this project was a great milestone in my personal career; it's challenged me to think outside the box and create solutions to problems all throughout the lifetime of the project. However, the best part was seeing the completed tower standing tall beyond the runway as hundreds of thousands of people gazed looking north at the take-offs and landings of numerous old and new aircraft took flight during the air show. I grew up watching air shows, but this was the most profound. I was a part of history and my fingerprints were all over the structure.
I want to thank the executive staff at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport for allowing me to gain another look from the one-year old tower. For more information about the outfit, please check out my blog on 3 Ways to Wear to my Alpha Jacket.