|Dr. N. Subramanian
Joined: 21 Feb 2008
Location: Gaithersburg, MD, U.S.A.
|Posted: Sat May 31, 2014 3:08 am Post subject: Hughes Memorial Tower-Washington D.C. -is it Aesthetic?
Hughes Memorial Tower
Hughes Memorial Tower (left)
The Hughes Memorial Tower is a radio tower located in Washington, D.C. at 6001 Georgia Avenue, near the intersection of 9th Street, NW, and Peabody Street, NW. Built on January 15, 1989, and at an elevation of 87.7 m (288 ft) above mean sea level. The tower is owned by the District of Columbia Office of Property Management. It is used to propagate the WDCW Channel 50 television signal and for radio communication by the Washington, D.C. police department on the 460 MHz frequency band. Standing at 232 m tall, the tower's height surpasses that the Washington Monument by more than 61 m and the WTTG Television Tower by 17 m.
The tower is a three-legged, free-standing star tower, similar to that built in 1936 for the Naval Radio Transmitter Facility in Annapolis, Maryland and the Star Tower in 1991 for WSTR-TV in Cincinnati, Ohio. The tower features nine strobe beacons, situated on each of the tower's legs at one beacon per 61 m. The beacons are synchronized to flash at 1.5-second intervals.
The tower has a series of daytime strobe lights and nighttime red warning navigation lights.
The tower was completed in 1989 and named after Hughes, who worked in Washington D.C.'s police department and died in 1995. It largely replaced the shorter, red-and-white tower that sits behind it. (That tower is used by federal agencies.)
The three-legged tower was not without its critics. Many residents decried its gargantuan size. “In the way of beauty, it offers nothing,” Charlie Glenn, an Advisory Neighborhood Commission member, told The Post in 1988. “It is a very strange structure.”
The tower was designed by Henry “Hank” McGinnis, a Texas engineer who cut his teeth building electric transmission line towers.
“He told me how he came to design that tower that way,” said Brookes Baker, a Fort Worth engineer who worked for McGinnis’s Landmark Tower Corp. in the 1990s. “He was having lunch with a fellow one time. He was doodling on his napkin, and he drew the Christian symbol of a fish. Somehow his napkin got turned so the fish was looking upward. He just kind of doodled and drew some lines around it and said: ‘Ho. That could be a tower.’ ”
McGinnis died in 2002. Towers built to his design — known as Landmark towers (or Adelphon towers, after an earlier company he owned) — pierce the sky in Cincinnati; Mesquite, Tex., and elsewhere.
Gary Minker is a broadcast engineer who hired McGinnis in 1995 to design a 519-footer for Mangonia Park, Fla. He finds the towers attractive but said they are not without their quirks. His was a nightmare to put together, taking 11 months rather than the expected three.
Fortunately, it didn’t suffer from one teething problem that afflicted Washington’s tower. Gary said McGinnis had miscalculated some elements, opting to use half-inch bolts when larger 7 / 8-inch bolts were needed.
“You’d literally shear a bolt in half, and it would fall to ground,” he said. Dozens of cars parked around the police station were damaged by falling bolts before the problem was fixed, Gary said.
With its three curving legs, Eiffel Tower-esque appearance and secret, hidden Jesus fish, the Georgia Avenue tower — the largest free-standing structure in the city — is certainly eye-catching.
“He was very concerned with the look” of his towers, Brookes said of McGinnis. “And they are beautiful. They just have a grace about them.”