future of the tall building
I'm completely dazed. A friend sent these photos of the view out
his brooklyn window, before and after, and I stared at them for
a long time.
future of the tall building is in doubt. Not that people don't want
to build them (many want to rebuild the towers immediately). But
not many will be wishing to rent space. Current tenants of the Empire
State Building, now again the tallest in New York, have gone
back to work. A lot want to get out of there for good, fearing
that their building has become the new target. The Empire State
had its own airplane hit, a B52 in 1945. The building stood. A Boeing
767 might be another storey.
The impetus for most tall buildings has not been practical. They
are expensive structures and tricky to make pay off. The new generation
of skyscrapers uses the structural system employed at the World
Trade Center, the external lattice bracing and holding up the
structure. It helps steady the building and lessens core structure
to something manageable. This system now seems very vulnerable to
this new kind of attack.
When the World Trade Center was built, it was meant to be 92 storeys
high. The extra 18 storeys were tacked on to secure the buildings
the brief title of world's tallest tower(s). A year after opening
in 1973, this title was swiped by the Sears
Tower in Chicago.
The problem with tall towers is not so much their tallness, though.
It is that they're so obvious. Those planes could have wreaked equal
devastation had they slightly missed there mark. But the attack
would have been less symbolic. Skyscrapers quickly become the postcard
symbols of their cities and nations. They become targets for any
group seeking to dent the self image of a nation.
The status once associated with having a high address has been replaced
in a matter of minutes by a vulnerability.