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Gate to Supply Panels for Charlotte Control Tower

Oxford, NC

Gate Precast will supply both load-bearing and architectural precast for Charlotte Douglas International Airport’s new 370-foot-tall air traffic control tower January 2017. It will be one of the tallest free-standing, precast structures to ever be erected by the contractor.

New Charlotte Douglas International Airport Air Traffic Control Tower & Tracon

Gate Precast’s Oxford, NC, plant is casting structural and architectural precast for a new 370-foot-tall air traffic control tower at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte. The tower, which represents the second tallest control tower in the U.S., will provide controllers with better views of air traffic once complete.

Ultimately, the Gate plant will produce 457 (70,000 square feet) of load-bearing precast pieces for the tower base and 162 (23,000 square feet) of lightweight architectural precast pieces for the controllers’ cab and the TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control) support building. Archer-Western Contractors of Charlotte is the general contractor and AECOM, of Atlanta, is the engineer/architect.

“Air traffic control tower construction is a highly specialized market, primarily due to its stringent tolerances,” says Chris Galde, Gate’s director of sales and marketing in Oxford. “There are very detailed connections from panel to panel, and the tolerances for the connections are very tight.” The tower’s structural components will be made of heavily-reinforced 6,000 psi concrete within three sets of custom steel forms. The architectural precast will be made of lightweight concrete at 118 pounds per cubic foot.

“Casting the pieces is a time-consuming process due to the nature of the panels, their size and weight,” Galde says. “The heaviest panel is about 67,000 pounds.” Gate expects to begin shipping the structural precast to the site January 2017. 

“The tower base will be erected in a series of rings,” he adds. “Each ring will be comprised of eight pieces and will reach about 10 feet tall. The rings will also be tied together with a splice sleeve.” During erection, a subcontractor will grout mechanical connectors into the joints at each level. The TRACON building will be constructed simultaneously with the tower.

Gate Precast has air traffic control tower experience at the following airports: Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International (the tallest in the U.S.), Orlando International (third tallest in the U.S). Memphis International, Duke Field Eglin AFB, and the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport.