simple is beautiful
New York Daily Photo: More or Less
2 ... 2 ...

Friday, 1 February 2008

More or Less

I've always loved tall buildings and big cities. My first experience was Washington, DC on a family trip, where I immediately became obsessed with the Washington Monument, memorizing its important facts (like its height, of course). You can easily guess my first stops in Paris (Arc d'Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower). NYC was overwhelming - I knew I had found my home.
It's not that I don't appreciate nuance or subtlety. Or realize that bigger isn't necessarily better and that less can be more. But these monuments are architectural assertions of what we can do. As I wrote in Beacon of Hope, a tall building, for me, is an inspiration and a metaphor for our aspirations, dreams and hopes, frozen in time and space.
In this photo, looking west along 53rd Street, we have the Lipstick building in the foreground and the Citicorp building behind. The Lipstick Building (1986) at 885 3rd Ave. was designed by John Burgee Architects with Philip Johnson. The building acquired its epithet Lipstick owing to the elliptical shape and telescoping tiers. The Citicorp Building has a fascinating story - click here for my previous article with an aerial view.
Of course not everyone is enamored with tall buildings, Here is a caustic condemnation I ran across online written by a Londoner: "My impression, based on experience of living in New York and Chicago among other things, is that tall buildings generate extra street traffic, create shading problems and downdraughts, increase the nocturnal light levels, create problems of social sustainability, tend to fall foul of planning guidance, are constructed without proper regard for the needs of existing residents, compromise the built heritage and historic fabric of the city (in London's case, sites like St Paul's, the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge), and are obvious targets for terrorism.
Moreover, they are often built for reasons of status rather than with much regard for architectural quality and development efficiency. The aesthetic of many tall buildings is corporate and brutalist; today's aesthetic preference may be tomorrow's aesthetic nightmare. Expensive tall buildings also have a marked impact on the demographic of an area."
Ouch ...


Post a Comment