Planned Tower for ANC Airport Would Be Alaska’s Tallest Building

Dec 1, 2022 | Architecture, Construction, Engineering, News, Transportation

Stantec_ANC Tower

A rendering of the new air traffic control tower for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.


The ConocoPhillips Alaska Building’s days as Alaska’s tallest inhabited structure are numbered. A new control tower planned for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) will surpass its height, rising to more than 300 feet, twice as tall as the existing airport tower.

Outgrowing the Old

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) selected Stantec to provide architecture and engineering design services for the new air traffic control tower (ATCT) and terminal radar approach control base building (TRACON). The facility will provide air traffic control for the state-owned airport and the adjacent Lake Hood Seaplane Base.

The current tower was constructed in 1977 and designed to accommodate only four air traffic controller positions. Since then, the airport added new runways, expanded its terminals, and increased the capacity of its cargo operations at ANC, which is the busiest cargo airport in the US and among the busiest in the world. The substantial increase in aircraft movements created a need for more air traffic controllers, leading to tower overcrowding.

When complete, the ATCT will stand more than 300 feet tall, becoming the tallest building in the state; the ConocoPhillips Alaska Building in Downtown Anchorage, at 296 feet, has held the title since it was completed in 1983. Taller towers are a common feature of growing airports. In 2006, a 398-foot tower at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport more than doubled the height of its predecessor, becoming the tallest in the country and the fifth-highest in the world.

The baseline elements of the ATCT design are strong, simple shapes without extraneous angles, a high-performance façade, and exterior finishes that are robust and virtually maintenance free. Clad with a durable metal panel rainscreen and glazing, the twelve-sided cab at the top of the tower will improve viewing to control aircraft movements. The design addresses overcrowding, incorporating additional space for supervisory and support staff, as well as National Air Traffic Controllers Association representatives.

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The two-story building adjacent to the ATCT serves as a base for radar-approach operations, environmental, and administrative functions. Stantec’s design for this 35,000-square-foot building will include a metal panel rainscreen exterior façade and a low wall and roof-to-floor area ratio to improve energy efficiency.

Stantec will focus on keeping the design of the ATCT/TRACON operationally efficient, emphasizing design elements that support safety, sustainability, and the facility’s mission-critical purpose. This Risk Category IV building will include floor plans that optimize operations and maintenance and include energy-efficient mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.

Resilient Design


The existing tower near the South Terminal was built in 1977.

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport

Structurally, the ATCT will meet the needs of high seismic performance in a cold region to provide ANC staff with a safe and steady work environment in all conditions. The airport’s original air traffic control tower was destroyed in the 1964 magnitude 9.2 earthquake and rebuilt in 1977.

“It’s an honor to work with the Federal Aviation Administration again to upgrade the air traffic control and radar approach facilities at Anchorage International Airport,” says Alex Thome, principal in Stantec’s airport practice. “This facility is critical to the future safe movement of millions of passengers and much of the air cargo entering and exiting the United States. Combining Stantec’s Alaska-specific design experience from our Anchorage staff with our global aviation-design expertise allows us to provide the FAA the best of both worlds.”

Stantec’s in-house team and subconsultants will provide architecture for both facilities, as well as civil, life safety, structural, electrical, fiber optic transmission system, ICT, mechanical, and sustainability design services.

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