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World's Ugliest Airports

Dulles, Washington D.C.

Visions of America, LLC / Alamy

Washington Dulles International Airport, Dulles, VA

Dulles looks great from a distance. The original terminal, designed by Eero Saarinen and completed in 1962, is a majestic swoop of a building. The trouble is, many travelers never see that view. For the passengers who change planes there (it’s United’s East Coast hub), Dulles “looks and feels like all bad U.S. airports rolled into one: low ceilings, depressing lighting, dark walls,” says Berlin-based typographic designer Erik Spiekermann. The airport was expanded with midfield concourses from the 1960s to the 1980s and famously transports passengers to these outlying buildings, and to the aircraft, via “Plane Mates” and Chrysler-designed “Mobile Lounges”—which Spiekermann terms “trucks on stilts” recalling “a cheap imitation of Blade Runner.”

The Upside: A new train system, opened in January, should replace most of the Mobile Lounges.


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