Friday, June 10, 2005

Mile high tower


As I've said before, what was needed as an architectural response to the destruction of the twin Towers was the swift design and construction of another proud and soaring thing, a building demonstrating defiance to the savagery that made such a replacement necessary, and a celebration of the values under attack. Something like Frank Lloyd Wright's Mile High Tower perhaps.

Unfortunately that's not going to happen, here's something exciting: the good people at Columbia University have put together a series of very impressive digital images and movies of the Tower in a setting that includes some of Frank's other 'Usonian' designs. Visit and download, and live in Frank's world for a few minutes:Introduction, Images, short movie, longer movie. Read here about Frank's 'Broadacre City' concept - everything the planners hate -- and for Frank's own drawings which he prepared to indicate what such a place might be like, go here, and then scroll down past the sc-fi and Buckminster Fuller pictures.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ach! This constant search by the human primate to build the tallest super penis! So tiresome and similar to the ever-upward paradigm of many societies. The concept of development without growth has rarely been let in the door.

6/12/2005 10:50:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Anonymous, you said: Nothing of any value.

6/12/2005 01:27:00 pm  
Anonymous tincanman said...

They are building something very similar to that sketch. I'll see if I can dig up the link to it somewhere. It was reasonably impressive; reading about the challenges they faced in construction - especially with the predicted wind problems at the top was quite astonishing.

6/13/2005 08:35:00 am  
Blogger Duncan Bayne said...

I'm guessing 'anonymous' lacks the talent to design such a building, or the productivity to have the wealth to build it.

Funny how the bitterest, saddest attacks on greatness are from anonymous posters.

What's they so ashamed of that they feel the need to attack from a position of anonymity?

6/13/2005 11:55:00 am  
Blogger Icehawk said...

Oh, enough of the Frank Lloyd Wright worship already.

This tower 'Illinois' was proposed for U of Chicago. A quick calculation within five minutes of the proposal being presented to the university showed that the lifts required to move students between classes would take up more than the entire building. That's yypical of Wright's consideration of the usability and usefulness of his buildings.

Then shall we mention Wright's lack of engineering skills? The only reason Falling Water is still standing is because the site engineer disobeyed Wright and snuck steel reinforcing into the concrete. Wright didn't have either the ability or the materials to build a mile-high tower even if some mug had funded it.

But it being a Frank Lloyd Wright design one thing was guaranteed: if they had built it, the roof would have leaked. His buildings are famous for it.

I admit it, his stuff looks lovely. Really gorgeous. If they were sculptures I'd admire them. But architecture is supposed to be about marrying looks, functionality, and engineering reality. He only ever got 1 out of 3.

6/13/2005 11:35:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Icehawk, you said: " Oh, enough of the Frank Lloyd Wright worship already."

Now you've done it. :-)

There's lots of really entertaining myths about Frank, and I thought I'd heard most of them. Haven't heard tht one about Chicago U though. It's not impossible, as he touted it to a lot of clients, but frankly the 'Mile Hgh' was always a marketing tool and a showpiece for his 'Broadacre City' proposal, though it was engineered as a real building.

He ~was~ pushing the elevator techology of the time -- indicated really by the fact he proposed multi-storey atomic-powered elevators for the building -- but the linear-induction elevators of today would have no problem with it.

"Then shall we mention Wright's lack of engineering skills?"
You can, but you'd be wrong. Wright's engineering was world-class -- just ask those people who survived the 1923 Tokyo earthquake in his Imperial Hotel. The story you relate about Fallingwater is half true; the site engineer did demand more steel, partly because he didn't fully understand the 'reverse waffle slab' that Wright was using for the cantilever terraces. The steel was installed without Wright's knowledge with two results, 1) the steel was too close together to allow the concrete to enter all the volume of the concrete terraces; and 2) the cantilever terraces were heavier than they would otherwise have been.

Still stood though.

Shall I keep going?

"I admit it, his stuff looks lovely. Really gorgeous. If they were sculptures I'd admire them. "

But if they were sculptures they wouldn't be architecture, would they? :-) They were built to be lived in, and those who did live in them say themselves that experience was amongst the best and most memorable of their lives.

"But architecture is supposed to be about marrying looks, functionality, and engineering reality."

Actually, I never agreed with Vitruvius about that. :-) I maintain the architect creates an integration of structure, function and ornament.

6/14/2005 09:04:00 am  
Blogger Icehawk said...

It's nice to know that _our_ elevator technology could cope. But surely it'd be better for him if his technology was sufficient for the buildings he was hawking. Hmm?

Yup, Falling Water is still standing - after the multi-million dollar structural fixes they did a few years back.

I note you haven't touched my "the roofs leak" comment. The original owner of Falling Water referred to it as a "five bucket" building. He also mentioned the mould growth you get if you build a house over a waterfall (not that it stopped him living there - it was a trophy house). The Johnson Wax headquarters took until the 1980s to sort out their leaks.

But I'm not likely to be convinced about their functionality and usability just on your word. No offence, but I've not seen any of your buildings, and some architects have *very* odd ideas about usability (also "memorable" is not necessarily what you want from a building's usability...). You got any references on that?

6/14/2005 12:28:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

You know, it's great how people just love hearing stories that tear down great men; doesn't even matter if they're true, does it.

"It's nice to know that _our_ elevator technology could cope. But surely it'd be better for him if his technology was sufficient for the buildings he was hawking. Hmm?"

As I indicated and Frank said at the time, the 'Mile High' was an 'conceptual' building, a concept that highlighted the 'Broadacre City' project within which he proposed the tower to be. The atomic powered elevators are a pretty serious clue that he was looking to the future.

Yup, Falling Water is still standing - after the multi-million dollar structural fixes they did a few years back."

I comment on the Fallingwater canards here and here. No doubt you'll look for more now. Never denied the leaks. Clients thought they were worth it - in fact Herbert Johnson who commissioned the Johnson Wax kept right on commissioning buildings from Wright, and it sure seems like he was pleased.

6/14/2005 01:33:00 pm  
Blogger visioneerwindows said...

This Price Tower was another of those great building managed to see and be in while lived in Oklahoma..... and yes, still dream of the possibility of seeing ther Illinois being built - but wow - imagine it in NYC - it'd dwarf all the others, be a spear into the heavens and into the future...

9/09/2006 02:42:00 pm  

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