Photo Gallery: The Art of the Control Tower

Air traffic controllers work in some of the world’s most distinctive buildings.

Arlanda Airport, Stockholm, Sweden. (Carolyn Russo)
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Not everyone would look at the “creamy concrete texture and circular windows” of the now-defunct LaGuardia air traffic control tower and think of Swiss cheese. Or glance at the Paris-Orly tower and be reminded of a birdie from a badminton game. Fortunately, National Air and Space Museum photographer Carolyn Russo looks at things in a different way. Since 2006 Russo has been photographing contemporary and historic air traffic control towers around the world. Her lush, compelling images have now been gathered into a new book, Art of the Airport Tower, and can be seen in an exhibition with the same title, which opens at the Museum on November 11, 2015, and runs through November 2016.

All images from Art of the Airport Tower by Carolyn J. Russo, copyright 2015, published by Smithsonian Books, Washington, D.C.

Imperial Airways, Dubai

Dubai’s aviation history began in 1937 with the establishment of a flying-boat base for Imperial Airways. In 2014 Dubai set a record for world’s busiest airport. The contemporary airport tower is crowned with a multi-level control center.

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