Air traffic control towers

  • €20m towers at Frankfurt and Berlin are two of a series for the German air traffic control agency.
  • Arup's façade concept gives controllers maximum visibility.
  • Required unique approval procedure and testing.

By using glazing to brace the façade construction of the control tower – designed by architects Ondra & Partners – controllers have the best possible view. Since no regulations existed for this innovative design, it required unique testing and approval procedures.

Maximum visibility

With a multidisciplinary team of façade planners and structural engineers, Arup's facade designers and structural engineers worked together to develop a façade concept that kept visible structural components to a minimum, ensuring controllers had maximum visibility.

Profile picture of Rudi Scheuermann
"Structural glazing improves safety by providing air traffic controllers with clear vision, with no obstacles in their way" 
Rudi ScheuermannWatch the video

Designed to take the strain

The complex structure comprises an elongated ground building for administration and technology, a 70m tower shaft and a flight station for the controllers – a 16-corner polygon on an elliptical floor plan in the pinnacle of the tower shaft. Two boxes, suspended from the tower shaft, accommodate server rooms, staff rooms and a crisis room.

The anticipated movement of the suspended structures, and the above-average strains this would produce, presented a significant challenge. In response, Arup developed bespoke façade elements with flexible connections.


Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS), the German air traffic control agency, has also appointed Arup to provide similar services on a control tower at Berlin’s new Brandenburg International Airport.

Both projects are part of a consistent, replicable design concept for control towers developed by architects Ondra & Partners and operated by DFS.


Design 2010 - Arup's Design Yearbook
  • Frankfurt Airport. Credit: ArupOpen gallery

    Controllers have the best possible view of the recently-extended airport.

  • Berlin-Schönefeld tower control. Credit: Arup.Open gallery

    The German air traffic control agency has also commissioned Arup to work on a tower at Berlin's Brandenburg International Airport.