Using this wonderful photo as the basis of this discussion (and my opinion):
I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on this very subjective topic. With the picture link, my personal opinion (slightly biased as it is my home airport) is that LAX
, in total, is the most instantly recognizable, unmistakable airport on the planet. Anchored by the Theme Building, followed by the ATC tower and the "light tubes" on Sepulveda that cascade down Century Boulevard in front of the airport hotels make for a very iconic complex. I have seen CDG
, VCN, ORY
, DIA, SFO
and nearly every other airport in the US.
In the US i'd place IAD
as a close second (with Eero Saarinen's passenger terminal) and TWA's old terminal at JFK
(all but demolished by now, also by Eero Saarinen) as very iconic structures. In Europe, both the original CDG
terminal and the new Air France / Sky Team gates are very recognizable. I lack first hand knowledge of the new mega airports scattered throughout Asia.
It is tough to not confuse "iconic" with "beauty" as CDG
's old alien space ship terminal is ugly, though it is unmistakably Paris, thus iconic. To be fair, as a frequent user of LAX
, most of the actual terminals are dated insofar as design, facilities, amenities and in some cases general upkeep. But overall, LAX
cannot be mistaken for any other and is almost instantly recognizable, thus the most iconic.