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Re: The End of Tall Buildings

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  • 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 1 of 10 , Oct 12, 2001
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      --- 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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    • 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 2 of 10 , Oct 12, 2001
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        --- 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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      • 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 3 of 10 , Oct 12, 2001
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          --- 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 4 of 10 , Oct 15, 2001
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            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 5 of 10 , Oct 15, 2001
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              >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 6 of 10 , Oct 16, 2001
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                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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