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Goodyear Airdock

Akron, Ohio
Completed 1929

Claim to Fame: The Goodyear Airdock, a unique structure with a volume of 55,000,000 cubic feet, was at the time the largest building in the world in terms of uninterrupted space.

Goodyear Airdock 
 Courtesy Flickr/Tim Fitzwater

Wind dynamics were a major consideration in building such a huge structure. When winds blow against the building, they are deflected up over the roof, creating a partial vacuum that can draw the roof up with a force several times greater than the direct force of the wind. Wind tunnel testing on a model helped designers decide that a semi-parabolic shape would best resolve air current concerns.

The Goodyear Airdock was designed by the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation as the construction site for the huge U.S. Navy airships, the USS Akron and USS Macon. Each airship (also called a dirigible or a blimp) was 785 feet long. However, the building was designed to house an airship considerably larger than the two contracted for by the Navy. The company designed the airdock to accommodate an airship of 10,000,000 cubic feet capacity. The building was completed in less than a year for a cost of $2.25 million. The Goodyear Airdock remains among the largest buildings ever designed, in terms of obstruction-free interior square footage. It covers an area larger than eight football fields set side-by-side and is roughly as tall as a 22-story building.

The airdock has double doors at each end of the building. Each weighs 600 tons and rests on 40 wheels, set radially on curved, standard gauge railroad tracks.  Each set of doors has an individual power plant that can open and close the doors in about five minutes.

Facts
1. The building is 1,175 feet long, 325 feet wide and 211 feet high.
2. The obstruction-free floor space is over 364,000 square feet.
3. The last airship constructed at the airdock was the U.S. Navy's ZPG-3W, completed in 1960.
4. The building is semi-parabolic in shape. The sections across it form parabolas and its longitudinal section also forms two half parabolas, connected by a straight line. The shape has been likened to a half of an egg or a silkworm's cocoon, cut in half lengthwise.
5. The shell of the building is supported by 11 structural steel arches.