Columbus Municipal Airport, with FAA and Woolpert engineering firm, to design new air traffic control tower with support from Cummins Foundation

Mike Wolanin | The Republic A view of the control tower at Columbus Municipal Airport in Columbus, Ind., pictured Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Columbus Municipal Airport, in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration and Woolpert, an engineering firm, are planning to design and build a new 100-foot-tall air traffic control tower. The project will be supported by a grant from the Cummins Foundation Architecture Program.

With its total operations rising approximately 40% over the past seven years, the Columbus Municipal Airport is one of the fastest growing general aviation airports in Indiana, airport officials said. Last year, the airport reported more than 55,000 aviation operations.

“The Columbus Air Traffic Control Tower has been a staple since the military base of the 1940s, but it is in dire need of replacement to provide quality service to tenants and transient aircraft,” said Brian Payne, Columbus Municipal Airport director.

The American Institute of Architects has recognized Columbus as one of the nation’s most architecturally important cities, citing its unique collection of buildings designed by prominent architects, including Harry Weese, Kevin Roche, Eero Saarinen, and Deborah Berke.

“This is a special opportunity for the airport to contribute to Columbus’ history and create a unique structure that adds to the beautiful landscape of our community,” Payne said.

Working with the Cummins Foundation Architecture Program, the airport has shortlisted five design firms for consideration:

  • Studio: indigenous, New Mexico
  • Snow Kreilich, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Marlon Blackwell Architects, Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • SO – IL Architects, Brooklyn, New York
  • Howeler + Yoon, Boston, Massachusetts

“We are excited about this unique opportunity to contribute to Columbus’ wonderful architectural history and heritage,” said Jim Schacht, vice president of corporate responsibility for Cummins Inc. and CEO of the Cummins Foundation. “The new tower will serve as yet another example of our community’s continuing commitment to innovation, art, and design.”

The Cummins Foundation Architecture Program recently supported the construction of a new building for Ivy Tech Community College at the AirPark Columbus College Campus that was completed earlier this year.

Woolpert has been hired by the Columbus Board of Aviation Commissioners to complete the structural design of a new $11.5 million air traffic control tower at Columbus Municipal Airport. The new tower will replace the airport’s existing 80-year-old tower and will be upgraded to align with current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Control Tower standards, including sighting, backup cooling and power, security, fire and life safety, and FAA equipment.

Woolpert Project Manager Ryan McCroskey said “the tower will be designed to reflect the city’s strong architectural history.” Woolpert is working with the airport to secure federal grant funding for the new air traffic control tower project.