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Is new air traffic control tower in UK the world’s ugliest?

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Let’s begin this discussion by acknowledging that designing an air traffic control tower to be aesthetically appealing is not an easy task. The air traffic controllers need to have 360-degree unobstructed views, which is why so many air traffic control towers look like a bunch of glass on top of a stick.

That said, some airports have managed to build towers that are at least visually interesting. has a collection of photos of “awesome” air traffic control towers and it doesn’t even include what many people consider the world’s most spectacular air traffic control tower in Abu Dhabi.

The Abu Dhabi tower brings to mind a billowing ship’s sail, appropriate for an island city with a rich maritime history. Perhaps the architects responsible for the new air traffic control tower in Manchester, England were trying to evoke the city’s industrial past with their design because it greatly resembles a factory smokestack, complete with belching black smoke at the top.

The new tower cost £20 million (about $31 million) to construct. Air traffic controllers still are testing the new facility, which is expected to “go live” later this week.

If, for some odd reason, you want to fly to Manchester from Chicago this weekend to see the new tower, it’s going to cost you anywhere from $1,800 to $2,400 for round-trip airfare. The higher price gets you there in less than eight hours non-stop on American. The cheaper fares require a couple stops and will get you to Manchester in 12-14 hours.

What do you think of Manchester’s new control tower? Is it the most hideous you’ve ever seen or do you have others you’d like to nominate?