“Ground Control to Major Tom… Ground Control to Major Tom… Commencing Countdown, Engines On!” (David Bowie, “Space Oddity”)

Air Control Towers (ATC) are well-recognized symbols of air safety and milestones of modern architecture. Built in different styles for different airports, they are hard not to ignore 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.

The “Leaning” Vienna International Airport Tower, Austria

An image of the leaning Vienna international airport tower in Austria

This airport control tower at Vienna International Airport in Austria 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 thirdhighest ATC (Air Control Tower) in the world.

Abandoned Tower at the Old Robert Mueller Airport in Austin, Texas

An image of the abandoned tower at the old Robert Muller airport in Austin Texas

Image Source: Bill Woodland

This airport control tower at the old Robert Mueller Airport based in Austin, Texas may be abandoned, but it still remains a remarkable prime example of 1960s architecture. Despite the old Robert Mueller Airport closing in 1999, it has certainly become an interesting ground to explore.

Abu Dhabi Airport Control Tower, Looming in the Fog

A foggy image of the Abu Dhabi airport tower

Image Source: Michael Renner

The Abu Dhabi Airport Control Tower, which stands 110 meters tall, appears to be looming in the fog with its half-crescent looking feature and surprising scimitar profile.

Futuristic Torch-Like San Francisco Airport Tower

An image of the futuristic torch-like San Francisco airport tower

Image Source

The control tower at San Francisco International Airport which was under construction until 2016, 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 the possibility of very high winds.

Mumbai International Airport Tower

An image of Mumbai International Airport Tower


The Mumbai International Airport control tower has become an iconic building as it’s hard to overlook its 84m height and angular and aesthetical design.

Edmonton International Airport Tower

An image of Edmonton International Airport Tower

Image Source

Edmonton International Airport’s distinctively shaped control tower features curvy steel ribbons that stands out from the prairie landscape of Alberta – almost replicating the look of stacked pancakes!

King David the Builder Airport Tower in Kutaisi, Georgia

A landscape image of the David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport

Image Source

Probably one of the most impressive of all air control towers we’ve found is the King David the Builder Airport in Kutaisi, Georgia.

The Beautiful Bordeaux Airport Tower, France

A close up of the Bordeaux airport tower airport

Image Source

The Bordeaux Merignac Airport tower shown above has a classic shape with a twist, adding certain visual interest.

Kingsford Smith Airport Tower in Sydney, Australia

An image of the airport tower in Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney Australia

Image Source: Edward Corpuz

An interesting flower-shaped tower graces the Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney.

Strange “H”-shaped Tower in Logan International Airport, Boston

An image of the airport tower at logan international airport boston

Image Source: ToastyKen

This distinctively shaped airport control tower at Logan International Airport in Boston, adds lots of functional space and has become a local landmark in East Boston.

Multi-legged Tower at the Dubai International Airport

An image of the airport tower at Dubai International Airport

Image Sources: Lisa Cooper, P J Partridge

There’s no doubt that you’ve already seen the 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 secondlargest building in the world by floor space.

Truly a Classic Shape: Dulles Airport Tower, Washington

An image of the airport tower at Washington Airport

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).

Donald D. Engen Observation Tower, Washington Airport

An image of the Donald D Engen Observation Tower

Image Source: Jonathan Smith

Also at Dulles Airport is the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower, providing a 360degree view to all who wants to view planes arriving and departing (which is a great pastime, we have to admit).

The Helix-Like Edinburgh Airport Tower
An image of the helix-shaped Edinburgh airport tower

Image Source: Rayan

A great example of industrial architecture is this helix-shaped airport control tower at Edinburgh airport. This tower is 60 meters tall and is clad in very functional zinc tiles, patterned with drainage channels.

The Imposing Air Traffic Control Tower at Dayton International Airport

The Imposing Air Traffic Control Tower at Dayton International Airport

Image Source: Scott Beale/Laughing Squid

Dayton’s International airport tower is indeed futuristic. Some even call it “Space Control”, not without reason – we’ve seen some science fiction art with similar shapes at spaceports.

One of the Tallest in the World: JFK International Airport Tower, New York

An image of JFK international airport tower in New York

Image Source

Designed by Henry N. Cobb and completed in 1992, JFK International Airport Tower stands at 320 ft (97 meters) tall and is one of the tallest in the world, dwarfing airplanes and providing great functional capabilities to ground air control.

The Tallest Free-Standing Control Tower: Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok, Thailand
An image of Suvarnabhumi airport control tower in Bangkok

This air traffic control tower in Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok is the tallest free-standing control tower in the world. It measures 132.2 meters above sea level.

A Few More Unusual Tower Shapes

Stockholm International Airport Tower

An image of Stockholm international airport tower

Image Source

An unusual airport tower that stood out to us at PJC was this funky air control tower at Stockholm International Airport.

Milan Malpensa Airport Tower

An image of Milan Malpensa airport tower

Image Source: Marius Watz

Milan’s Malpensa Airport tower is known for its luxurious setting and unique combination of shapes that make up the tower.

Fort Alliance Airport Tower

Image Source

Heathrow Airport Control Tower

An image of Heathrow airport air traffic control tower

Image Source

Bahrain International Airport Tower and The Old Airport Tower at Mumbai International Airport

An image of Bahrain international airport and the old Mumbai international airport traffic control tower

Image Sources: 1, 2

Above left: Bahrain International Airport control tower. Above right: Brightly-painted tower at the Old Mumbai International Airport.

Groovy Color-Changing Towers at Los Angeles International Airport Gateway

An image of the color changing towers at Los Angeles airport gateway

Image Source: Brian Byrnes

These are not just any ordinary air traffic control towers, but a neat addition to Los Angeles Airport Gateway. There are fifteen 110 foot decorative towers that mark the entrance to the airport.

Incheon International Airport Traffic Center

An image of the airport tower at Incheon international airport traffic center

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.

If this blog post has inspired your travels around the world, why not experience the luxury of your own private jet hire and get an instant quote from us today.


Article written by Avi Abrams, of Dark Roasted Blend – a popular website, covering all sorts of weird and wonderful things.