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RE: [carfree_cities] The End of Tall Buildings

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  • Karen Southerland
    The writers of the article do have a valid point. After living in NYC (Manhattan & Brooklyn) for 5 years it s far from a human or even humane city. There is
    Message 1 of 10 , Oct 11, 2001
      The writers of the article do have a valid point. After living in NYC
      (Manhattan & Brooklyn) for 5 years it's far from a human or even humane
      city. There is such a thing as too much density (at least while cars
      exist), as people = cars. This is especially true in New York since there
      are roughly 10 million people living in the area. Even if only 50% of the
      people had cars (which is far from true) that means the area would have
      about 5 million cars driving around. New York brings too many people to
      it's city everyday for work and it's incredibly taxing on the infrastructure
      (which wasn't designed for as many people as it is handling).

      Americans need to concentrate on getting work in the community they live in
      (instead of "commuting") - this requires a re-examination of our overly
      capitalistic society. Commuting makes the commuter not part of either the
      working or living community and that's just a shame.

      -----Original Message-----
      From: James Rombough [mailto:jsrombough@...]
      Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2001 6:38 PM
      To: carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [carfree_cities] The End of Tall Buildings


      Suburban sprawl doesn't involve any tall buildings.
      Do you really want more suburban sprawl?

      Matt, I don't know what country you live in, but I can
      speak from personal experience that every single
      reasonably sized city in the USA is far less "human"
      than New York City. Unless it's the middle of the
      night, there are people walking on almost every
      sidewalk of this city. There are pedestrians walking
      alongside major streets 24/7. That is "human" in my
      book.

      So far, I've found just one intersection in NYC that
      allows cars to turn right on red. Believe me, no
      right turn on red does wonders for walkability. Even
      San Francisco, for all its liberalism, is more
      friendly to automobiles than NYC. I could go on and
      on about how NYC is far, far more human than any other
      city in this country. Yes, this is the same city that
      used to have two 110-story towers downtown. It is not
      a coincidence that NYC has tall buildings and is a
      human place to live, as opposed to
      Whites-Only-Fake-Ville, Suburbia USA.

      I didn't bother to read the rest of the article.
      "Existing towers are destined to be dismantled" -- did
      Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy have some input, too?
      That article has got to be the stupidest thing I have
      ever read. Toyota SUV ads are more logical than that.

      Dismantling skyscrapers? How about dismantling
      freeways instead? I can understand the argument
      against dismantling freeways (understand, not agree
      with), but I cannot imagine any reason, aside from
      terrorism, for wanting to dismantle a perfectly good
      skyscraper.

      Is this some kind of lame joke? An attempt by
      terrorists to get us to tear down our own towers for
      them? Or should I read the rest of the article? Does
      it get less stupid after the first couple of
      paragraphs?

      James Rombough
    • Matt Lyons
      ... No of course not.. See below ... If you read the article you would see that they are not condemning density - rather they are condemning monolithic, single
      Message 2 of 10 , Oct 11, 2001
        > Suburban sprawl doesn't involve any tall buildings.
        > Do you really want more suburban sprawl?

        No of course not.. See below

        > I didn't bother to read the rest of the article.
        > "Existing towers are destined to be dismantled" -- did
        > Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy have some input, too?
        > That article has got to be the stupidest thing I have
        > ever read. Toyota SUV ads are more logical than that.

        If you read the article you would see that they are not
        condemning density - rather they are condemning monolithic, single
        purpose structures that tend to suck the life out of the city below.
        Furthermore, they are not suggesting we instead use one and two story
        suburban sprawl type structures, but rather 4 to 10 story structures
        similar to Paris, Rome or London.

        If what you're saying is true - that tall buildings are the
        reason New York is a human place to live - then all the other cities
        that were raped during the 60s and 70s by "urban renewal" should be
        as liveable as New York. Unfortunately that simply isn't the case as
        some of the most unliveable cities in the U.S. - Atlanta, Houston,
        Los Angeles, Dallas, etc - are the one's whose downtown is dominated
        exclusively by monolithic skyscrapers.

        > Matt, I don't know what country you live in, but I can
        > speak from personal experience that every single
        > reasonably sized city in the USA is far less "human"
        > than New York City. Unless it's the middle of the
        > night, there are people walking on almost every
        > sidewalk of this city. There are pedestrians walking
        > alongside major streets 24/7. That is "human" in my
        > book.

        Actually I'm from Atlanta which is why I can relate to this type
        of highrise, as that's all there is downtown. The only time they are
        occupied is during the work week. At evening and on weekends
        downtown is lifeless simply because these single purpose structures
        don't provide the diversity of function that mixed use structures do.

        The lifeblood of cites like New York comes from mixed use,
        medium density zoning. As one poster on Planetizen notes "It's the
        winding low-density streets of the village, the on-street life and
        theatres of broadway, the pedestrian impulse to walk from 83d st. on
        the East side down to Battery park because the day is so beautiful".

        > Dismantling skyscrapers? How about dismantling
        > freeways instead? I can understand the argument
        > against dismantling freeways (understand, not agree
        > with), but I cannot imagine any reason, aside from
        > terrorism, for wanting to dismantle a perfectly good
        > skyscraper.

        Oh I'm all for dismantling freeways. However, I do think this
        article does have a point about the inhuman scale of some of these
        buildings. Too much density can be a bad thing.

        > Is this some kind of lame joke? An attempt by
        > terrorists to get us to tear down our own towers for
        > them? Or should I read the rest of the article? Does
        > it get less stupid after the first couple of
        > paragraphs?

        Yes, you should read the rest of the article before making your final
        judgement.
      • James Rombough
        ... There are 4 to 10 story buildings in the suburbs, with plenty of free parking for the employees. There might be a 1/4 mile jogging trail around it --
        Message 3 of 10 , Oct 12, 2001
          --- Matt Lyons <mattlyons@...> wrote:
          >
          > > I didn't bother to read the rest of the article.
          > > "Existing towers are destined to be dismantled" --
          > did
          > > Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy have some input,
          > too?
          > > That article has got to be the stupidest thing I
          > have
          > > ever read. Toyota SUV ads are more logical than
          > that.
          >
          > If you read the article you would see that they
          > are not
          > condemning density - rather they are condemning
          > monolithic, single
          > purpose structures that tend to suck the life out of
          > the city below.
          > Furthermore, they are not suggesting we instead use
          > one and two story
          > suburban sprawl type structures, but rather 4 to 10
          > story structures
          > similar to Paris, Rome or London.

          There are 4 to 10 story buildings in the suburbs, with
          plenty of free parking for the employees. There might
          be a 1/4 mile jogging trail around it -- whupee.

          So the WTC sucked the life out of Battery Park City?
          Battery Park City was built because of, not in spite
          of, the WTC.

          >
          > If what you're saying is true - that tall
          > buildings are the
          > reason New York is a human place to live - then all
          > the other cities
          > that were raped during the 60s and 70s by "urban
          > renewal" should be
          > as liveable as New York. Unfortunately that simply
          > isn't the case as
          > some of the most unliveable cities in the U.S. -
          > Atlanta, Houston,
          > Los Angeles, Dallas, etc - are the one's whose
          > downtown is dominated
          > exclusively by monolithic skyscrapers.

          In addition to Battery Park City, additional housing
          has been created from empty office buildings in Lower
          Manhattan. Downtown of other cities could do the same
          thing. Austin, TX has some apartments in downtown.
          It's not perfect, but at least it's a start.

          ...

          > Yes, you should read the rest of the article before
          > making your final
          > judgement.
          >

          Thanks, I will read the rest of it.


          __________________________________________________
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          Make a great connection at Yahoo! Personals.
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        • James Rombough
          ... If you spread out the 10 million people, the 50% car ownership rate would rise. There would be more than 5 million cars as a result (same conclusion based
          Message 4 of 10 , Oct 12, 2001
            --- Karen Southerland <ksouth@...> wrote:
            > The writers of the article do have a valid point.
            > After living in NYC
            > (Manhattan & Brooklyn) for 5 years it's far from a
            > human or even humane
            > city. There is such a thing as too much density (at
            > least while cars
            > exist), as people = cars. This is especially true
            > in New York since there
            > are roughly 10 million people living in the area.
            > Even if only 50% of the
            > people had cars (which is far from true) that means
            > the area would have
            > about 5 million cars driving around. New York
            > brings too many people to
            > it's city everyday for work and it's incredibly
            > taxing on the infrastructure
            > (which wasn't designed for as many people as it is
            > handling).

            If you spread out the 10 million people, the 50% car
            ownership rate would rise. There would be more than 5
            million cars as a result (same conclusion based on the
            actual car ownership rate).

            There are a lot of people who live in the New York
            metropolitan area who don't work in Manhattan. They
            usually drive to work. Is that the solution, more
            driving?

            >
            > Americans need to concentrate on getting work in the
            > community they live in
            > (instead of "commuting") - this requires a
            > re-examination of our overly
            > capitalistic society. Commuting makes the commuter
            > not part of either the
            > working or living community and that's just a shame.
            >

            How are offices supposed to work if people are spread
            out all over the place? Telecommuting didn't pan out
            as well as its proponents had imagined. Turns out
            that speaking with someone face to face is more
            effective than speaking by telephone or e-mail.

            You are confusing capitalism with poor land use
            planning. Hawking home-made wicker baskets instead of
            pricing life insurance isn't the solution. The USA
            has always been capitalist, but poor land use planning
            is relatively recent.

            __________________________________________________
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            Make a great connection at Yahoo! Personals.
            http://personals.yahoo.com
          • Matt Lyons
            ... Building height alone does not make a liveable city. Paris, arguably the most beautiful city in the world, is predominantly 5 story structures that share
            Message 5 of 10 , Oct 12, 2001
              --- In carfree_cities@y..., James Rombough <jsrombough@y...> wrote:

              > There are 4 to 10 story buildings in the suburbs, with
              > plenty of free parking for the employees. There might
              > be a 1/4 mile jogging trail around it -- whupee.

              Building height alone does not make a liveable city. Paris, arguably
              the most beautiful city in the world, is predominantly 5 story
              structures that share a common facade and uniform setback. Likewise,
              San Francisco is defined by its neighborhoods of Victorian row
              houses, not the conglomeration of skyscrapers downtown off Market
              street(though the Transamerica building is a visual landmark).

              > So the WTC sucked the life out of Battery Park City?
              > Battery Park City was built because of, not in spite
              > of, the WTC.

              Again you're missing the point of the article which was largely
              taking aim at the monolithic, post WWII skyscrapers such as the twin
              towers of the WTC. With that in mind this now seems to be more of a
              design issue than a fundamental problem with high rise structures in
              general.

              An excellent post written by Dan Zack on Planetizen notes:

              Skyscrapers of an earlier age were much friendlier to the urban
              environment. Before WWII they were almost always located on pretty
              small parcels, allowing urban diversity of land uses to exist. For
              example, the World Trade Center was located on a 16 acre complex,
              whereas the Empire State Building is located on a 1.9 acre parcel. It
              doesn't even take up its whole block! This allows for a walkable
              street pattern with small blocks and mixed uses, even with huge
              buildings.

              Also, older skyscrapers usually had retail storefronts occupying most
              of their street frontage. This added to streetlife and made many of
              them "invisible" to pedestrians that didn't look upward. They didn't
              disrupt the streetlife nearly as much as the gigantic complexes of
              today, with their blank walls facing the sidewalks and vacuous open
              spaces all around. Didn't we learn our lesson from Cabrini-Green? The
              concept doesn't work for offices, either.

              Finally, older skycrapers had architecture that felt a little more
              human that the modernist glass boxes of the post-war years. Rather
              than vertical or horizontal bands of glass, they actually had
              separate, well proportioned windows for each office, which made it
              feel like there were actually people inside. Something about that
              offers comfort. Thankfully, many new skyscrapers are returning to
              this simple concept.

              http://www.planetizen.com/oped/cmt_item.php?id=321

              > In addition to Battery Park City, additional housing
              > has been created from empty office buildings in Lower
              > Manhattan. Downtown of other cities could do the same
              > thing. Austin, TX has some apartments in downtown.
              > It's not perfect, but at least it's a start.

              Yes it is a start though its a shame that is all we have to choose
              from in most American cities.
            • Lanyon, Ryan
              Personally, the skyline of Toronto is what inspired a love of cities in me as a child. Before visiting Paris or London, no image of these cities inspired me
              Message 6 of 10 , Oct 15, 2001
                Personally, the skyline of Toronto is what inspired a love of cities in me
                as a child. Before visiting Paris or London, no image of these cities
                inspired me like those in North America.

                The ultimate deciding factor on the height of new buildings will be
                economics - after all, it was economics and real estate values that pushed
                buildings upward in the first place, as soon as technology allowed.

                I agree with one point - the monoliths of the 60s and 70s and even 80s will
                not be rebuilt. Many of these were built as expressions of power and
                influence, and were more costly to create. If I'm not mistaken, the amount
                of space by the elevator shafts in the WTC made the building less
                economical. I think maximum economy caps around 80 stories. That figure
                may change now, if anything above, say, 60 cannot be rented out.

                The fear of another air attack also diminishes if the surrounding buildings
                are of similar height. Not only was the WTC out of scale with humans, but
                it was also out of scale with its surroundings, making it stand out among
                the crowd.

                The issue of single-use buildings should not be confused with height - Five
                20 storey single-use towers are probably worse than one 100-storey tower,
                since they will consume an additional 4 footprints. I don't think the WTC
                was single-use, either. I believe a hotel was located inside.

                -TL


                > Message: 5
                > Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 19:08:34 -0000
                > From: "Matt Lyons" <mattlyons@...>
                > Subject: The End of Tall Buildings
                >
                > Here's an interesting article that talks about the future of the
                > urban landscape in the wake of 9/11.
                >
                > I'll admit I've never been particularly fond of skyscrapers at the
                > human level. They are aesthetically appealing from a distance, yet
                > somewhat ineffective on a human scale when it comes to promoting
                > cohesive urban communities.
                >
                > I'm curious what others here think.
                >
                > http://www.planetizen.com/oped/item.php?id=30
                >
              • J.H. Crawford
                ... There was a hotel on the site, but not in the towers themselves. -- ### -- J.H. Crawford
                Message 7 of 10 , Oct 15, 2001
                  >The issue of single-use buildings should not be confused with height - Five
                  >20 storey single-use towers are probably worse than one 100-storey tower,
                  >since they will consume an additional 4 footprints. I don't think the WTC
                  >was single-use, either. I believe a hotel was located inside.

                  There was a hotel on the site, but not in the towers themselves.


                  -- ### --

                  J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                  postmaster@... Carfree.com
                • Chris Bradshaw
                  The WTC is a product as much of the transit links, as it is any technology of building technology (including vertical transit, or elevators). The WTC is at
                  Message 8 of 10 , Oct 16, 2001
                    The WTC is a product as much of the transit links, as it is any
                    technology of building technology (including "vertical transit," or
                    elevators). The WTC is at the terminus of the New Jersey train tunnel,
                    and several subway lines run through or near it.

                    Of course, the proximity of hotels and residences, also stacked pretty
                    high, also make it possible, including its "economics."

                    But none of this overcomes:

                    a) the large scale of the companies who occupied the complex and high
                    degree of job specialization and monoculture work environment and the
                    lack of potential contact with people in other companies and other types
                    of work.

                    b) the decision to put the "personal services" in an inward facing (and
                    below ground) mall shut out the NYC culture of small, street-oriented,
                    individally owned (non-chain) businesses, although many of these
                    business exist in older building nearby and in the TriBeCa neighbourhood
                    to the north.

                    c) the adjecency of the expressway to the west and the decision to
                    provide a link to the Hudson River and the Battery Park complex with a
                    pedestrian bridge.

                    There will never be a humane city without active street fronts, and
                    green boulevards and a small-road-ringed park every 20 blocks or so.

                    Chris Bradshaw
                    Ottawa (wife was born just a few blocks from "ground zero")
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