Built in 1929, the almost unbelievably huge Goodyear Airdock in Akron, Ohio, was created as a space where blimps, airships, and dirigibles could be constructed, but building such a massive space created some pretty weird problems, such as indoor rain and putting the whole thing on rollers so that it can expand and contract with the seasons.
For a brief, beautiful moment in the early 20th century it really seemed like airships and zeppelins were going to be the future of air travel, with docking towers built in major cities and aspirational advertisements filling Americans with dreams of luxury sky balloons. It was this era that led to the creation of the Goodyear Airdock. The almost comically large hangar stands over 200 feet tall and well over 1,000 feet long, all without any interior supports like pillars or struts. At the time of its completion the building was the largest of its kind in the world. The interior of the building holds over a million cubic meters of space in which to create massive lighter-than-air ships. To get the ships out of the airdock once they were completed, both of the rounded ends of the building actually slide apart like huge rounded wedge doors. Each of the doors weighs 600 tons and is powered by its own separate power plant. Of course construction on this grand scale created some surprising issues.
For one, the huge building was expected to expand and contract as the temperature changed, so much of the structure was placed on rollers so that it could do so without doing any structural damage. In addition, the temperature inside and outside the building would often be drastically different, creating a sort of indoor weather system. To combat this, rows of massive windows were installed on either side of the hangar, which open up to equalize the temperatures. Despite this, during certain conditions, condensation can accumulate in the upper air of the hangar and begin to “rain” on the builders below.
The Goodyear Airlock is not open to the public, but the monolithic black slug of a building can be seen by passersby on the highway.