Despite being the smallest of the New York metropolitan area airports, LaGuardia Airport is one of the busiest airports in the country because of its close proximity to Manhattan. Helping air traffic controllers more effectively manage the number of flights arriving and departing from the airport on a daily basis was the objective behind the replacement of the airport's old traffic control tower with one much higher. Wrapping the exterior of the new tower are aluminum composite panels manufactured from Reynobond ® material by Alcoa Architectural Products.
Part of the land LaGuardia sits on used to be underwater, and the rest was occupied by the Gala Amusement Park until 1929, when it was torn down and the property was converted into an airfield. The City of New York took over the airfield in 1937, and purchased the adjoining property to expand the site. They filled in 357 acres of waterfront with landfill and a metal reinforcing framework and opened the airfield as a commercial airport two years later. The Federal Aviation Administration and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey commissioned Jacobs of Arlington, VA, to design a new, state-of-the-art air traffic control tower for LaGuardia Airport in Queens, NY, to replace the existing air traffic control tower, cab and base building, constructed in 1962. The new 233-foot tall tower raises the control cabin about 70 feet above the old one, giving the air traffic controllers an unobstructed, 360° view of all of the runways and taxi areas. Although the construction of the $62-million tower was completed in the fall of 2009, it will not become operational until fall 2010.
The tower site is within feet of the entrance to a parking garage and one of the terminals so the concrete support columns are twice as thick as normal to meet FAA requirements. The 20,000-sq. ft., two-story base building is smaller than similar structures due to the restrictions imposed by the site, which is less than one acre of reclaimed swampland (about one-third of the space normally reserved for similar projects). However, space was not the only issue the engineers had to overcome: a high water table and distant bedrock foundation added to the complexity of the project.
A special process was used to lower the water table at the site, which was only eight feet below the surface. The foundation was then constructed of a combination of steel tubes, rebar and concrete. Workers drove more than 200 piles from the base – hollow steel tubes with circumferences the size of a large pizza – into the ground until they reached bedrock about 60 feet down. Preformed concrete was then used to fabricate the tower shaft.
“We specified metal for the tower because it is lightweight, durable, versatile and virtually maintenance free,” said Stephen Wakeman, design principal of Jacobs. “Aesthetically the Reynbond ACM cladding ties the tower to the other metal-clad buildings within the airport complex.” To increase the subtlety of the tower the cabin was clad in a custom blue, which virtually fades into the sky. Platinum and the grey velvet accents were used on the fin panels.
BAMCO, Inc., of Middlesex, NJ, engineered and fabricated the 9,500 sq. ft. of Reynobond® ACM needed for the project. The material specified is 4 mm thick with an FR core (fire resistive) core and Regal White Colorweld® 300 paint finish; 25,000 square feet of Reynobond ACM, 4 mm, FR core with a Custom Blue Colorweld 300 finish; 4,000 square feet of Reynobond ACM, 4 mm, FR core with a Platinum Colorweld 300 finish; and 6,000 square feet of Reynobond ACM, 4 mm, FR core with a Grey Velvet Colorweld 300 finish to clad the exterior of the base building and cabin including the soffits and fin panels. “Every panel had to have a one-inch piece of composite welded along the perimeter,” said Marcanthony Vespucci, senior project manager for BAMCO. “This was needed since the panels are a conical shape, and had to have a finished return.”
Custom Exterior Systems, of Sloatsburg, NY, installed the metal panels in BAMCO’s D-500 attachment system, which uses a composite spline as the reveal in the panel joints. “We took most of the panels up to the cab in an elevator,” said Thomas R. Skjold, president of Custom Exterior Systems, Inc. “The entire building was built off of pipe scaffold. The panels were attached to the precast concrete on the main portion of the tower, and to stick framing at the upper ring.”
The cab and base building were clad in Reynobond ACM and Concept Series® corrugated panels from Centria. The interior walls of the walkway around the cabin were clad in Centria Formawall® foam panels. The roofs of the tower and base building were fabricated from Centria SRS®3 roof panels. ADP Series roof panels were used on the base building canopies. Torcon, Inc., of Red Bank, NJ, served as the general contractor.
To learn more about the CENTRIA metal roof and wall systems referenced in this article, visit www.centria.com.