The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is launching a nationwide solicitation in search for the next firm or individual to design the country’s control towers of the future. 

The FAA currently has more than 100 aging control towers at regional and municipal airports across the United States that will eventually need to be replaced.

“For communities large and small, the air traffic control tower is an icon. We want architects and engineers from every corner of the country to help build the safe and sustainable towers of the future,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in FAA's press release.

What the FAA hopes to achieve with the nationwide solicitation is to find a designer who will develop a standardized design for control towers that will:

  • Meet operational and cost requirements 

  • Maximize energy efficiency

  • Be easy to modify according to height needs

  • Be rapidly constructed

As a sample of how the new towers should be modelled , the FAA says Tucson International Airport’s (TUS) control tower is an example of sustainable building already in operation. 

The tower is the first air traffic facility with net-zero energy consumption. It uses a 1,600-panel solar farm to generate power for all of its electrical needs, and supplies unused power back to the grid. The solar farm also produces ice, which is stored in large containers and used to cool the building when solar panels are not generating electricity.

On November 9, 2021, the FAA will host a webinar to answer questions from interested businesses before the official solicitation starts.

The FAA previously used this approach in the 1960's when it invited architectural firms to develop a modular design concept for new control towers. At the time, US President John F. Kennedy wanted federal buildings that showed “the dignity, enterprise, vigor and stability of the American national government.” 

The FAA eventually awarded the contract to the company headed by renowned Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei. 

Pei and his firm ended up designing 16 control towers for the FAA and many of them, including towers at Chicago O’Hare, Sacramento, Madison, and Jacksonville international airports—are still operating today.

The FAA will use a three-phase, best value and fixed-price selection process in accordance with the Acquisition Management System (AMS).  

Up to six successful participants will each receive $100,000 for their efforts to develop a scalable, sustainable, and standardized conceptual design package and cost estimate.

 If selected for further development, participants will receive a FAA contract award to design their new air traffic control tower concept. 

Full details of the solicitation here