Art of the Airport Tower is a photographic journey to airports in the U.S. and around the world. This book, the companion volume to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum exhibition of the same name, explores 85 historic and contemporary airport towers through more than 100 fine art photographs by Carolyn Russo.
Russo’s photography makes these ordinary structures extraordinary: more than mere aviation artifacts, they are monumental abstractions, symbols of cultural expression, and testimonies of technological change. The first impression travelers have when they reach a new city or country may well be the tower; as such, it is often an embodiment of important symbols and values. For example, at the Stockholm-Arlanda Airport in Sweden, two lookout points perch like birds at the top of the control tower in reference to two protective ravens from Nordic mythology. The Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport in China features wavy structures designed to look like scrolls of silk delicately sheltering passengers below. Russo’s striking photographs capture these features, and informative captions describe their architectural, cultural, and technological significance. An introduction by Smithsonian commercial aviation expert F. Robert van der Linden tells the history of airport towers to contextualize Russo’s work. Art of the Airport Tower is a stunning book that brings a heightened awareness to the architectural beauty and historical significance of these structures.