Construction Begins on Design-Build Renovation of San Francisco International Airport Superbay Hangar

July 30, 2018 / News Blog

Serving as design-builder, The Weitz Company has commenced construction on the new Superbay Hangar Fire Suppression System at San Francisco International Airport.

The hangar, which is occupied and used by American Airlines and United Airlines to perform critical and necessary aircraft safety and maintenance checks, was constructed in 1969 and is one of only four hangars in the United States that can house four 747 aircrafts.

Weitz is overseeing the programming, design, construction and commissioning services of this complex, multi-phased project that will replace all of the wet and foam fire suppression systems in the 420,550-square-foot hangar.

Working in collaboration with Weitz on the SFO Superbay Hangar design-build team are C M Pros and OCI Associates. C M Pros, which has served on a wide range of projects at the San Francisco International Airport, is providing project management support services. OCI Associates is delivering all engineering and design work for the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems in the aircraft hangar and office spaces.

The old protein foam system is outdated and is being supplanted with a new, state-of-the-art foam system and a new wet sprinkler system. Overall, there are approximately 5,000 sprinkler heads throughout the hangar. The foam system has 48 foam generators that suppress any fuel-fed fires – 9-12 feet of foam can cover the hangar floor in just three minutes – stopping fires from the bottom up. The wet sprinkler system is approximately 120 feet from the finished floor, which is the height of the inside of the hangar.

To plan for the installation of new systems, project stakeholders had to think outside of the box given the material composition of the building. The structure is 550 feet by 450 feet inside and is made of light-gage, 230-foot long cantilevered shell roofs that weigh approximately 40 percent less than conventional steel construction. The lightweight material, size and cantilever roof have the majority of the new systems’ weight focused on the building’s central towers. The piping systems of the past won’t work the same today given updated seismic requirements and codes.

To execute the project, Weitz is scheduling construction around the occupants’ work schedule. The coordinated approach allows the tenants to continue to use the Superbay Hangar during the renovation process and will expedite the hangar fire suppression system update. Airplane maintenance work is occurring at night with construction work being performed during the day. The Weitz project team coordinates a stand up meeting every morning with American and United Airlines so they can discuss the day’s plans. This ensures the construction team is out of the way of airport staff by the time their evening shifts roll around.

In addition to the fire suppression systems, The Weitz Company is also building a new pump house with fire pump equipment; new generators; two new fire water supply tanks; and new industrial waste system and tank.

Construction on the Superbay Hangar started in early June and is scheduled to be completed in July 2019.