“Ground Control to Major Tom… Ground Control to Major Tom… Commencing Countdown, Engines On!” (David Bowie, “Space Oddity”)
Air Control Towers (ATC) are both well-recognized symbols of air safety and milestones of modern architecture: built in different styles for different airports, they are hard not to notice as your plane gets taxied out for departure. Many control towers can be seen on postcards and some even become a landmark – so today we are going to see some of the most unique examples around the world:
1. The “Leaning” Vienna International Airport Tower, Austria
Above: This tower may look like it’s leaning over, but it is only an illusion from a certain angle. It is the highest control tower in Europe and, at 110 meters, is the third highest ATC (Air Control Tower) in the world.
2. Abandoned tower at the old Robert Mueller Airport in Austin, Texas
Above: It may be abandoned, but it still looks great – a prime example of the 1960s architecture. The old Robert Mueller Airport was closed since 1999 and so it is certainly an interesting ground to explore – more info.
3. Abu Dhabi Airport Control Tower, Looming in the Fog
Above: The 110 meter tall airport tower looks like a half-crescent with its surprising scimitar profile.
4. Futuristic Torch-like San Francisco Airport Tower
Above: To be completed by the end of 2014, the new control tower at San Francisco International Airport features the all-glass “crown” at the top, capable of pulling back for an unobstructed view. It is designed to withstand magnitude 8 earthquakes and possibility of very high winds – more info.
Other projected unusual air control towers:
Above left: The Mumbai International Airport facelift will feature this modern-looking tower (if it ever gets built with all the financial problems the project is having). Above right: Edmonton International Airport will get a new traffic control tower, looking, for all intents and purposes, like a stack of pancakes!
Above: Probably the most impressive of all proposed air control towers: ATC planned for King David the Builder Airport in Kutaisi, Georgia – more info
5. The Beautiful Bordeaux Airport Control Tower, France
Above: The Bordeaux Merignac Airport tower has a classic shape with a twist, adding certain visual interest.
6. Kingsford Smith Airport Control Tower in Sydney, Australia
Above: An interesting flower-shaped tower graces the Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney.
7. Strange “H”-shaped Tower in Logan International Airport, Boston
Above: Very distinctive shape for a tower, adding lots of functional space – this tower became a local landmark in East Boston.
8. Multi-legged Tower at the Dubai International Airport
Above: You’ve seen strangely-shaped tower at Abu Dhabi Airport earlier in the article. Not to be outdone, the Dubai International Airport (DBX) sports another unique tower shape, as well as the largest airport terminal in the world: Terminal 3, which is also the second largest building in the world by floor space.
9. Truly a Classic Shape: Dulles Airport Tower, Washington
Above: This old control tower (now replaced by a newer structure) is a timeless classic, designed by Eero Saarinen (who also created the gorgeous TWA terminal at JFK Airport)
Also at Dulles Airport is this Donald D. Engen Observation Tower, providing a 360 degree view to all who wants to view planes arriving and departing (which is a great pastime, we have to admit):
10. The Helix-like Edinburgh Airport Tower
Above: A great example of industrial architecture, this tower is 60 meters tall and is clad in very functional zinc tiles, patterned with drainage channels.
11. The Imposing Air Traffic Control Tower at Dayton International Airport
Above: Futuristic tower, indeed. Some even call it “Space Control”, not without reason – we’ve seen some science fiction art with similar shapes at space ports.
12. One of the Tallest in the World: JFK International Airport Tower, New York
Above: Designed by Henry N. Cobb and completed in 1992, this 320 ft. (97 meters) tall air traffic control tower is one of the tallest in the world, dwarfing airplanes and providing great functional capabilities to ground air control.
13. The tallest free-standing control tower: Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok, Thailand
Above: This air traffic control tower in Bangkok is the tallest free-standing control tower in the world. It measures 132.2 meters above sea level.
14. A Few More Unusual Tower Shapes
Above left: Pretty funky air control tower at Stockholm International Airport. Above right: Really weird combination of shapes makes up the tower in Milan Malpensa Airport.
Above Left: Fort Worth Alliance Airport Air Traffic Control Tower. Above right: Heathrow Airport Control Tower, London.
Above left: Bahrain International Airport control tower. Above right: Brightly-painted tower at the Mumbai International Airport.
15. Groovy Color-Changing Towers at Los Angeles Airport Gateway
Above: These are not air traffic control towers, but a neat addition to the airport gateway: fifteen 110 foot decorative towers at the entrance to the airport – more info.
And finally: Incheon International Airport Traffic Center
Above: This neat tear-shaped structure on top of the Incheon International Airport traffic center in South Korea, is not a futuristic location for air traffic control. It functions more as an architectural afterthought, but certainly has become a landmark – more info
Article written by Avi Abrams, of Dark Roasted Blend – a popular website, covering all sorts of weird and wonderful things.