Art Traffic Control Towers

art of the airport tower carolyn russo
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Art of the Airport Tower

Carolyn J. Russo

Frank Lloyd Wright, arguably America’s greatest architect, built the iconic Falling Water over a beautiful sandstone waterfall. Edgar Kaufmann, who commissioned the design, asked why the home was built OVER the incredible vista. The eccentric artist replied that if the building was aligned to view the falling water always, the magnificent natural configuration would become commonplace.

Falling Water frank lloyd wright

The busy people who work at airports, more likely than not, absentmindedly view the ATC tower as a mundane structure–in part, because it fits Wright’s “commonplace” observation and equally due to the fact that the aviation observer does not take the time to carefully appreciate the art which was infused in this functional building.

Smithsonian Museum photographer, Carolyn J. Russo, brought her artistic eye to put the mundane in a beautiful context. The results are a hard cover book, Art of the Airport Tower (Smithsonian Press 2015) and a striking exhibition capturing the architectural beauty of many of the airport towers across the globe.

carolyn russo Smithsonian Museum airport tower art

Her collection of photographs have been described as follows:

As one focuses on Carolyn Russo’s photographs, the subject of her work becomes very intriguing to the viewer as the architectural design stands out from a close range. Russo spent nearly seven years touring the planet, visiting 23 countries and photographing the designs of control towers of nearly 100 airports.

“Airport traffic control towers have a powerful presence — they watch over the vastness of the airport and sky, are a nonjudgmental cultural greeter, a choreographer or conductor of the aircraft dance, a mother bird caring for her flock and an omniscient, intelligent structure keeping humans safe,” Russo points out as she gazed across her work. “I saw them as the unsung heroes of the airport landscape and tried to elevate them beyond their height and amazing architecture.”

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art traffic control towers airport


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