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Half-mile high buildings...
May 16, 2006 8:23 AM   Subscribe

A growing crop of towers pushing 2,000 feet: though just shy itself, the much-redesigned Freedom Tower is finally under construction for completion in 2011; but there is also the stunning Fordham Spire, approved in Chicago, that will rise to 2,000 feet by 2010. Moscow is planning the tallest tower in Europe, while there are a number of sightseeing and radio towers under construction in Asia. In Dubai, two towers under construction (despite worker protests) are racing to be the world's tallest, both are keeping their final heights secret, but will likely be over half a mile in height -- the Burj Dubai and the Al Burj. As previously discussed, there are great illustrations comparing buildings both built and under construction. Bring on Frank Lloyd Wright's The Illinois!
posted by blahblahblah (63 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hooray for phallic symbols!
posted by mullingitover at 8:32 AM on May 16, 2006


Wake me up when we get here:

posted by Ryvar at 8:33 AM on May 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


The final design Freedom Tower ended up a lot more blah than the early designs.
posted by octothorpe at 8:39 AM on May 16, 2006


I thought the twin towers should have been rebuilt, only better and stronger (resistant to attacks), as a powerful statement to terrorists.
posted by disgruntled at 8:39 AM on May 16, 2006


Great links, thanks! I'm a sucker for these sorts of things and willingly cough up the cash to ride to the top of whatever tower happens to be in whatever place I'm visiting.

I hadn't seen this picture of the Freedom Tower before - to me it looks eerily like the stump of one of the WTC towers, after 9-11.
posted by carter at 8:39 AM on May 16, 2006


I thought they should build a giant clenched fist instead of freedom tower.
posted by washburn at 8:41 AM on May 16, 2006


resistant to attacks

Like, you mean, point defense lasers, defense screens, shields and anti-conspiracy fields?
posted by kalessin at 8:41 AM on May 16, 2006


There is a lot of excitement in Chicago about the Fordham Spire. I think our feelings were kind of hurt when the Sears Tower lost it's place (through several distinctions) as the world's tallest.

Even if the Fordham isn't built the new Trump Tower will dramatically alter the Chicago skyline - which means all across the city people and businesses will be scrambling to update everything from posters to stationary.
posted by wfrgms at 8:43 AM on May 16, 2006


So who is occupying all those towers in Dubai?
posted by smackfu at 8:44 AM on May 16, 2006


lol freedom tower

i guess we do tend to build monuments to things that are dead
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 8:47 AM on May 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


The Freedom Tower is great: As long as you remember it is a monument to the corruption, malfeasance, ineptitude, paranoia, and idiocy of America post-2001.

I've always liked that drawing of The Illinois.
posted by Kikkoman at 8:59 AM on May 16, 2006


I don't think people understand exactly how useful a tall broadcasting beacon would be in lower manhattan. My apt used to receive cable-quality (better, in the days of digital cable) signal from the twin towers. (the Empire State Building is blocked behind a bridge from me)

I also thought it was more commonly accepted that any building greater than 60-70 stories is basically economically unviable. I understand that skyscrapers are all a boast of some sort, but the idea that you could at least fill it with paying tenants has always seemed to be part and parcel of building them, no?
posted by Busithoth at 9:04 AM on May 16, 2006


washburn,

Sure, with middle finger extended.
posted by sfts2 at 9:08 AM on May 16, 2006


Like, you mean, point defense lasers, defense screens, shields and anti-conspiracy fields?

Playing too many video games, eh? Metafilter is slowly becoming redundant.

The buildings did survive the initial impact of the planes, so I would think an improved structural design with modern heat-resistant materials would suffice.
posted by disgruntled at 9:09 AM on May 16, 2006


I understand that skyscrapers are all a boast of some sort, but the idea that you could at least fill it with paying tenants has always seemed to be part and parcel of building them, no?

this is why everything is becoming "mixed-use". people realized there's no fucking way in hell they're filling 115 floors with offices.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 9:12 AM on May 16, 2006


Playing too many video games, eh?

No, I was just being sarcastic. Of course architecture can be hardened, but there's always a bigger missile. To me, buildings are the least defensible structures, unless you can figure out how to move them around.

But I guess that only works in space movies.
posted by kalessin at 9:14 AM on May 16, 2006


Fascinating material - thanks for a great post!
posted by fluffycreature at 9:14 AM on May 16, 2006


I hadn't seen any drawings of the Fordham tower before this. That's a gorgeous building, and seeing it will make my drive to the north side even more enjoyable.
posted by goatdog at 9:22 AM on May 16, 2006


Of all the upcoming skyscrapers in that awesome penultimate link, the Freedom Tower that will stand on the WTC site is by far the most boring and ugly. :-(
posted by Asparagirl at 9:23 AM on May 16, 2006


Call me when any of them has finally beat the record holder.
posted by chuma at 9:23 AM on May 16, 2006


Ryvar broke my heart with the memories.
posted by agregoli at 9:31 AM on May 16, 2006


er.....what happened to the freedom tower ? it looks total bollocks now.
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:36 AM on May 16, 2006


Re the wtc: maybe there was always something wrong with the idea that we could make beauty out of violence. Maybe this banal ugliness is somehow better. But it makes me sad.

Otho, it looks like the idea of rebuilding the WTC may not be dead after-all . . .
posted by washburn at 9:50 AM on May 16, 2006


I thought the twin towers should have been rebuilt, only better and stronger (resistant to attacks), as a powerful statement to terrorists.

I think the statement would have been lost. Terrorists want to cause fear and erosion of democracy and they earned their "Mission Accomplished" banner.

Basically you'd be setting the pins up for another frame. And whether you get a strike or not is not as important as showing up at the alley.

Actually, I'm kind of hoping that the terrorists knock down Fort Awesome just because anything in the modern United States called the "Freedom Tower" is purely too Orwellian to deserve to stay.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:57 AM on May 16, 2006


Aren't these all giant artificial penises?

What we need are gigantic buildings in the shape of labia. (Are there any? Then we need more.)
posted by beth at 10:02 AM on May 16, 2006


No, beth, but the Pentagon is kind of a giant abstract asshole and it survived the 9/11 attack with minimal damage.
posted by wendell at 10:10 AM on May 16, 2006


I've always said assholes were more resilient than dicks.
posted by kalessin at 10:18 AM on May 16, 2006


So who is occupying all those towers in Dubai?
posted by smackfu


Ditto. Anything I've ever read about Dubai says a bunch of abstract stuff about it being a centre for the Arab world, blah blah blah. I've never actiually read what they do there outside of a place where Saudi nationals can go and enjoy a scotch and soda. And that ceratinly doesn't seem to be enough to justify its' existance.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:19 AM on May 16, 2006


Some people call the Smurfit-Stone building "the vagina building."
posted by goatdog at 10:20 AM on May 16, 2006


High buildings have no genuine advantages, except in speculative gains for banks and land owners. They are not cheaper, they do not help create open space, they destroy the townscape, they destroy social life, they promote crime, they make life difficult for children, they are expensive to maintain, they wreck the open spaces near them, and they damage light and air and view.
-Christopher Alexander, A Pattern Language, "Four Story Limit"
posted by rsanheim at 10:26 AM on May 16, 2006


Per chuma's point, check out the wikipedia page for the Ostankino Tower:
In 2003, media reports claimed a new antenna had been installed, increasing the tower's height to 577 meters (1893 feet). However, the new antenna is the same height as the old. Plans for a newer, higher antenna have been considered, but funding has not yet been secured.
Amazing..

The thing I always found funniest about the debate - Chicago liked to claim the Sears Tower was tallest, because it has a higher occupied floor than the WTCs did, or the Petronas towers have, but wait... The CN Tower has the highest occupied floor as well as the highest spire!

Anyway, it will be just as well when somebody beats the CN Tower definitively. One less thing for Canadians to whine about (or should that be whinge).
posted by Chuckles at 10:32 AM on May 16, 2006


Aren't these all giant artificial penises?C'mon, the average skyscraper looks about as much like a penis as it does an arm or even a fishing rod, if not more so like the last two. Don't make me diagram to prove my point... I think the accusation of phallic resemblance is more telling than the supposed resemblance. (and while I'm at it, such claims are so 1980's feminism, it's time to get past the vague, coincidental similarities)
posted by incongruity at 10:34 AM on May 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


er.....what happened to the freedom tower ? it looks total bollocks now.

I think that Libeskind must be thoroughly regretting winning this particular competition.

Also - the cost of the planned WTC memorial is now almost $1 billion. The cost attributed to the Vietnam War memorial varies, but is less than $10 million (in 1980).
posted by carter at 10:36 AM on May 16, 2006


Beth: Too answer your question, there is Trump's new hotel in Dubai. I don't buy the "giant phallic symbol" thing, though. Any three dimensional shape that is longer than it is wide is an awfully large catagory to dismiss as giant phalli.

And, as for the economics, the rule of thumb is that 60-70 stories is tha maximum height at which skyscrapers are profitable, simply because above that height they require too much infrastructure per floor to leave enough space for rentable square feet - most of the buildings above that limit are speculative at best, although "prestige addresses" may indeed be profitable above that amount. Fordham Spire is unusual, because it is basically apartment complexes, and will be relatively cheap to build. Indeed, for the first time, many supertall high-rises are actually condos, rather than office buildings, since technology is allowing smaller buildings that are still quite tall. Fordham's footprint is only 14,000 square feet, as opposed to 40,000 for the WTC and Freedom Tower.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:40 AM on May 16, 2006


Hooray for phallic symbols!

Every man knows that size is all that matters. It's not just phallic, though; cities with low self-esteem think if only they had a giant domed stadium, they'd be big-time.

Anyway, speaking of giant towers, that Tower of Babel project worked out pretty good...
posted by LeLiLo at 10:56 AM on May 16, 2006


I thought the twin towers should have been rebuilt, only better and stronger (resistant to attacks), as a powerful statement to terrorists.

Like, you mean, point defense lasers, defense screens, shields and anti-conspiracy fields?

No, we need a stronger statement to the terrorists. We need to communicate to this rabble that we are the ultimate power in world, and that any dissidence will not be tolerated.

Gentlemen, I present the Freedom Star:



I grow tired of asking this, so it'll be the last time. Where is the rebel terrorist base?
posted by illovich at 10:58 AM on May 16, 2006


So who is occupying all those towers in Dubai?
posted by smackfu


Ditto. Anything I've ever read about Dubai says a bunch of abstract stuff about it being a centre for the Arab world, blah blah blah. I've never actiually read what they do there outside of a place where Saudi nationals can go and enjoy a scotch and soda. And that ceratinly doesn't seem to be enough to justify its' existance.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:19 AM PST on May 16 [+fave] [!]


Gents, it's a big world out there. Not everyone's idea of a vacation is loading up the family wagon and going to Disney (although I'm partial to it myself). I've been to Dubai several times... it is the playground of the Middile-East, and increasingly Europe (they have a large Irish and British expatriate population). It is a very 'western' city, with a veil of Arabia over it's face. It's lots of fun, plenty to do, awesome hotels and shopping... and WAY too damn hot in the summertime.

Point is... Dubai is much more than you're giving it credit for. Go see the world!!!
posted by matty at 11:07 AM on May 16, 2006


It's been a long time since I rode the elevator down below the 500th floor.

My papers are in order, and my passport is current, but there's still that moment of uncertainty as you leave America. Not worried if you'll be able to leave - relations with the Commonwealth are good, which gets you down to the 400th with no more hassle than walking on the wrong side of the pedway - but worried if you'll get back. The long lines of immigrants and asylum seekers clog and strain the escalators at the border, and it's easy to imagine a minor bureaucratic error leaving you stranded in their midst.

And I'll be coming from even lower - when they see you get off that elevator from the third world, Homeland Security gets out the special manuals. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure they have working elevators down there anymore. Other than the occasional NATO Building Maintenance Expedition, we don't have alot of contact with the lowest floors like Syria.

I continue down. I need to rent a helicopter to get from 382 to 380, since a revolution has closed the elevators and the escalators are plagued by snipers. Some thugs chase me out of 238, ranting about Satan America but clearly just interested in my wallet. I knew this kind of hassle would be part of the job, but usually work just takes me to parts of America in other buildings, not downstairs out of the country. My health plan is good and I've had my shots, but these people seem to live in another world!

Eventually, in a maintenance room in the depths of some middle-eastern country I don't even know the floor numbers for, I find what I need. Unlocking the rusty old locker, I reach inside to the ancient keyboard and type the message which is the same in every language on every floor of the world: "CTL-ALT-DEL".

I watch the server reboot, then start the long slow journey back upstairs to America.
posted by freebird at 11:08 AM on May 16, 2006 [20 favorites]


Me...I'm just constantly amazed at the need to populate our planet with sky peni.
posted by dejah420 at 11:09 AM on May 16, 2006


Rolling Stone's suggestion:
posted by Chuckles at 11:11 AM on May 16, 2006


Also don't forget that oil and natural gas are massive businesses which require administration. There is some of that in Dubai.

Also, Dubai is a major major shipping hub which also requires a ton of administration.

It's also a global center of trade, all kinds of things pass through Dubai to be sent elsewhere.

Lastly, it's the safest and best place to set up shop if you want to do business in that part of the world, so many multinational corps have offices there.
posted by cell divide at 11:15 AM on May 16, 2006


A Vanity Fair article this month suggested Dubai's leaders are looking to get 15 million tourists a year by 2010 or something like that. By comparison they pointed out that NYC gets only 5 million tourists a year. (apologies if I've mis-remembered any of these figures)
posted by jrb223 at 11:18 AM on May 16, 2006


Well something like 12m Asians go to Macau to gamble each year. Gambling is surely a very powerful draw, but Dubai is within close-enough range of Europe, Asia, India, Africa, and the Middle East to compete with anything as a tourist destination. Beaches, shopping, dining, hotels, indoor skiing... if they added gambling it would probably go even further.
posted by cell divide at 11:21 AM on May 16, 2006


FLW's The Illinois: RETROFUTURO11, see also Palpatine lives in The Illinois!
posted by roboto at 11:26 AM on May 16, 2006


freebird: I actually liked the short-short story a lot.
posted by blahblahblah at 11:36 AM on May 16, 2006


I think the main attraction of Dubai in the region is the comparative lack of interfering religious police. Not just alcohol, but sex -- both "normal" coed activities and quiet prostitution -- seem to be less regulated, from what I've read.

Oh, and Canucks: The CN Tower is a freestanding structure, not a building. (On Wikipedia I'm annoyed because some pedants think that when people want a list of the tallest buildings, they're looking for guy-wired radio towers. Um, no.)

The Freedom Tower -- stupid name aside -- has gone from potentially interesting to probably travesty, largely due to not design-by-committee, but design-as-a-conference-compromise-between-committees. It is an open question as to how desirable an address it will be, in part due to cost, in part due to the fear of another attack, and in part due to the outflow of backoffice work from Lower Manhattan to Jersey City and elsewhere. It's just something they feel they have to build, I guess.

Chicago, though, has Fordham coming, which will be one of the coolest new buildings in the US in quite a while. Most of the design lead has taken place in Asia and now the Middle East (even Europe slow to catch on). I think people have been scared to try something different, and this will really open things up a bit. If anything else, it re-establishes Chicago as the skyscraper city.

I really like the Federation Tower in Moscow for whatever reason. Funny how much it looks like something rising out of the Death Star, though.
posted by dhartung at 11:41 AM on May 16, 2006


Freedom tower rocks. Looking at this though, how are the Petronas Towers considered higher then the sears tower? Because they have higher 'decorative' spires then the sears tower?
posted by delmoi at 12:16 PM on May 16, 2006


goatdog - Why in the world would you describe the Smurfit-Stone building "the vagina building." I don't see it at all.
posted by raedyn at 12:31 PM on May 16, 2006


The Fordham in Chicago looks pretty awesome in the drawings.
posted by raedyn at 12:33 PM on May 16, 2006


I just don't see the point of skyscrapers in the desert. People build up only when they don't have space, and suffer trade-offs because of it. Dubai has plenty of space, so it really is just some kind of weird overfunded fantasy.
posted by smackfu at 12:40 PM on May 16, 2006


maybe it's difficult to build on sand?

/obviously clueless
posted by raedyn at 1:04 PM on May 16, 2006


What's the terrorist attack insurance premium like on one of these places these days? Does it increase with the height?
posted by beth at 1:13 PM on May 16, 2006


I'd smurf it.
posted by fleacircus at 1:26 PM on May 16, 2006


I just don't see the point of skyscrapers in the desert.

It's not as if Dubai owns a huge desert. It's not Saudi Arabia-- yes there's space but there's space everywhere besides islands. Furthermore cooling/heating costs are supposed to be far lower in vertical structures, as may be the cost of moving water around, so it might be more economical to build up?

People build up only when they don't have space,

Tell that to Los Angeles, Shanghai, or any number of cities with a lot of space but tall buildings as well.

it really is just some kind of weird overfunded fantasy.

Well that could be true, I guess time will tell. The economy is pretty good there right now, but that is probably just because the price of oil is so high.
posted by cell divide at 1:50 PM on May 16, 2006


I'm probably in the minority but I've always found the original designs for the Shanghai WFC extremely elegant (scroll all the way to the right).
posted by junesix at 1:51 PM on May 16, 2006


junesix: Yeah, I agree it did look much cooler when the hole was round. It still looks awesome, though.
posted by Potsy at 2:44 PM on May 16, 2006


Does anyone else think "Freedom Tower" is a really crap name?
posted by D J Robertstein at 4:10 PM on May 16, 2006


Does anyone else think "Freedom Tower" is a really crap name?

That's just so that next time somebody decides to fly some planes into it & burn it to the ground, the headlines can proclaim, "Freedom Fries!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:26 PM on May 16, 2006


Could the freedom tower be more boring? What was the point of the design competition? None, when compromise by committee is done. What a waste.
posted by uni verse at 4:58 PM on May 16, 2006


it did look much cooler when the hole was round

iirc, i think they changed it to a trapezoid cuz it resembled a "rising sun" :P

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 8:22 PM on May 16, 2006


World's tallest building? Or SPACESHIP???

(Full disclosure: self link)
posted by Poagao at 12:02 AM on May 17, 2006


Trump has been trying to build ANOTHER tallest building in Chicago. Chicago might have the 2 world's tallest buildings soon.


The cool bit for me is that I used to look down from my office on the site where the Trump tower is going in.
posted by webfanatic at 11:36 PM on May 27, 2006


Note: After looking around a bit, I might have to retract that part about the Trump tower being a world's tallest, as I can't seem to confirm it.
posted by webfanatic at 11:41 PM on May 27, 2006


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