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Cleared for takeoff

image Stinson Municipal Airport’s new traffic control tower

SAN ANTONIO - Located near the Mission Trails area, just south of Downtown San Antonio, Stinson Municipal Airport is the second oldest continually-operated airport in the United States. The original airport control tower, built in the mid ‘30s, was renovated and expanded between 2006 and 2008, and did not achieve the required standards of the FAA, thus the birth of the construction of a new airport traffic control tower.


    The construction of a new airport traffic control tower at the historic Stinson Airfield was the culmination of many years of funding, designing and obtaining community support. Teal Construction Company was honored to be part this 5,865sf, $4,208,000 project which took 18 months to complete, bringing pride to the Stinson Airport personnel, surrounding community, City of San Antonio and the Stinson family.
    The control tower is constructed of a deep socketed foundation with precast concrete panels to a height of nearly 100ft. above grade level. Atop the concrete panel is a steel framed cab, which houses the air traffic controllers’ stations. While the use of precast concrete panels is not uncommon, it is not common to stack several panels atop one another to achieve the final precast panel height of 99ft-9in. This required in depth coordination to ensure the panels could withstand wind pressures at the design height along with the additional forces added by the wings attached to the exterior of the tower structure. The wings were constructed of a steel frame that was wrapped with a tensile membrane. The control tower’s cab was constructed with a conventional steel frame with heavy gauge metal stud infill and a stucco exterior finish system.
    The cab includes a 360-degree curtain wall system, allowing full view capability of the flight controllers. The glass for this system was required to meet strict FAA guidelines for clarity, distortion and blemishes. The majority of the cab structure, curtain wall system (with glass installed) and exterior finish system was completed at grade level before the entire cab was erected and placed atop the precast panel shaft. This ‘cab rising’ required careful planning and coordinating as there was a tolerance of only 1/8 inch with the cab structural members and the previously erected precast panels.
    The tower has 11 floors: eight were installed, six finished out, and three are planned for future installation as the need arises. The six finished-out floors include offices, a breakroom and one floor strictly for computer and FAA equipment.
    Redondo Manufacturing, Architectural Division 8, Garden Ornamental Design and Urban Concrete were an instrumental part of the success of this project.
    The surrounding airport property is classified as historically significant and environmentally sensitive. These cultural areas include several sites on the property where there are unmarked graves dating back to and before the establishment of the Stinson Airfield. The construction and staging area was also surrounded by a protected tree canopy.
During the design phase, the owner and the city implemented plans to increase vegetation along a nearby creek. Teal was required to plant plants and live roots along the creek without disturbing existing vegetation and historically sensitive areas. This was a large undertaking since the area needed to be planted without the use of equipment and vehicles.
    The importance of the Stinson Airfield to the aviation history of the United States cannot be understated and Teal hopes that this new control tower will serve to be an icon to this importance and this historic area of San Antonio and pleased to have received a 2019 Excellence in Construction Eagle award for the completion of the project.
    Teal Construction Company is a General Contracting and Construction Management firm specializing in the construction of commercial projects. -cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net