When Skyscrapers and Cities Become One.
February 25, 2002 12:37 PM   Subscribe

When Skyscrapers and Cities Become One. Tsui has designed the Ultima Tower (a two-mile high, one-mile wide building), and Takenaka the Sky City 1000, in the name of conservation and ecology. William Pedersen, designer of the World Financial Center in Shanghai, believes that "cities within a single building . . . are definitely going to come to pass within the next 25 or 30 years." These sky cities will have "vast open-air wooded parks, giant waterfalls, and automoble-free neighborhoods."
posted by jacknose (58 comments total)
You know, before September I would have thought that structures like this were good ideas. Especially in space constrained areas like Hong Kong... now I'm not so sure.

We don't need yet another Tower of Babylon.
posted by mkn at 12:42 PM on February 25, 2002

This still doesn't explain why Ultimate Manilow is the #3 album in the country... his first top 10 album since 1979!
posted by Ben Grimm at 12:45 PM on February 25, 2002

mkn, for every problem there is a solution. SAMs? Electro-magnetic shields? New plan technology? Anything is possible.
posted by cell divide at 12:49 PM on February 25, 2002

Can we assume that this is one of those architects who doesn't actually get any of his stuff built?
posted by ph00dz at 12:51 PM on February 25, 2002

hey cool! i was only ever aware of the mile high illinois and the simcity ones :)
posted by kliuless at 12:52 PM on February 25, 2002

Hemp wearers might hate to hear it, but in terms of energy use and consumption of green space, a person living in Trump Tower is already doing the planet more good than an organic farmer in Vermont.

Um, he lost me right there!
posted by bob bisquick at 12:53 PM on February 25, 2002

Big buildings are bad. The World Trade Center was awful. These are phalic projects by architects with time on their hands.

And on a lighter note, I am freaking out because my mom is thinking of selling her house; MY house, to live in an apartment building. : (
posted by ParisParamus at 12:54 PM on February 25, 2002

posted by linux at 12:54 PM on February 25, 2002

posted by linux at 12:55 PM on February 25, 2002

Has anyone read Oath of Fealty by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle? It's one of my favorite science fiction books of all time from an idea perspective, and it's based in an arcology that has been built as a single skyscraper in downtown LA. It's filled with some interesting cultural and political dialogues about the impact of such structures.
posted by bump at 12:56 PM on February 25, 2002

Damn, u beat me to it, kliuless! Archologies, or something i think is what they were called.
posted by jmd82 at 1:05 PM on February 25, 2002

Also, Greg Bear's / (Slant and John Crowley's Beasts feature arcologies, as well as every space station, orbital habitat or space colony story ever devised.

The Arcosanti site seems to be down. Anyone ever been there?
posted by rodii at 1:07 PM on February 25, 2002

I wonder how long the wait for the elevator will be?
posted by srboisvert at 1:16 PM on February 25, 2002

The megatower has been with us at least since Frank Lloyd Wright's Mile-High skyscraper named simply The Illinois; and the concept of a city in a single structure owes as much to Soleri's Arcosanti "arcology" as to sheer hubris. The projects here seem to blend the two impulses, the so-called "edifice complex" of reaching for the sky with the late-20th-century concepts of livability and community as expressed and channeled in architecture. It's not to worry; the skyscraper as standalone tower was in many ways best expressed by the World Trade Center, but by the time it was built the tower-in-arid-plaza setup was already recognized as a kind of urban blight, often killing the pedestrian and other street-level traffic that keeps stores busy and attracts people to urban environments. Simultaneously, the solving of transportation and utility problems for projects like WTC convinced most architects of the ultimate futility of reaching any further. For Wright's building, a university study showed that it would take six hours of subway trains arriving 3 minutes apart to bring all the workers to the building, and another six to go home at night! Also, the taller a structure, the elevator problem comes into play -- the elevator shafts necessary for serving upper floors take up valuable space on the lower floors. WTC solved this with express elevators leading to sky-lobbies, essentially stacking three skyscrapers one on the other. But the difficulty and expense of doing this is prohibitive for taller structures.

The real apotheosis of these impulses is, ironically, just across the street in developments like Cesar Pelli's World Financial Center, which combines the same elements much more effectively.

The challenge today is less for towers discrete from their locales as for urban developments that are tightly integrated with their neighborhoods.
posted by dhartung at 1:18 PM on February 25, 2002

3001 : The Final Odyssey has 4 massive diamond towers with rings connecting them.

Sure we've all seen Towering Inferno and what happened on Sept. 11th, but fact is many people like living and working in tall buildings. I for one would love to live in a really tall skyscrapper. I've always preferred apartments over a bunglow. If your building has a compound, like it should, then your kids have enough place to play outside. The kids have other kids to play with. Living in a building is really not that bad.
posted by riffola at 1:20 PM on February 25, 2002

mkn, for every problem there is a solution.

Yes, but the more complex the structure the greater the chance for an engineering/construction error. There are far too many variables to take into account. I know it's a stretch and the odds are low - but I just don't think having a MILLION people in one building is that good an idea... unless it's in space, then I'm all for it!
posted by mkn at 1:24 PM on February 25, 2002

So, which is it? Mile high skyscrapers or urban sprawl?

I vote mile-highs, even though I think urban sprawl is a non-problem for people who are looking for things to complain about. Let's remember that terrorist acts on tall buildings are, statistically speaking, fairly rare. And a building of this sides might, in addition to greenspace and elevators, install some air defense hardware for good measure.
posted by UncleFes at 1:24 PM on February 25, 2002

Big buildings are bad. The World Trade Center was awful. These are phalic projects by architects with time on their hands.

mmmkay. Density is bad, I'm all for sprawl on an industrial scale.
posted by tomplus2 at 1:30 PM on February 25, 2002

As long as my tv reception is good, my internet connection is fast, and they put a jacuzzi somewhere in that mofo, count me in.

if we dont build more towers and bigger towers, the boxcutters win.
posted by tsarfan at 1:31 PM on February 25, 2002

Has anyone read Oath of Fealty by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle?

One of my favorites. I still want an implant (in the book, a brain-computer interface implanted in your head).
posted by ebarker at 1:37 PM on February 25, 2002

linux pegged it above: Trantor, Asimov's indoor-city-as-entire-planet, which is the setting for many of his stories, and is also the capital of the Galactic Empire that is the decaying giant in the Foundation series. Based on New York, where Asmov spent almost every moment of his life.
posted by bingo at 1:38 PM on February 25, 2002

Yeah, ebarker, the implant idea has stuck with me all along. I would like to sign up, but with the current state of the software industry, I'm not sure I want anything like that in my head.
posted by bump at 1:52 PM on February 25, 2002

Elevator problem solved by Otis as explained here and pointed out by me the last time the question of big towers came up, and the whole anything big has to be related to phalluses thing is getting really old.
posted by zeoslap at 2:06 PM on February 25, 2002

yeah, arcologies! like who needs real ones when you can have them in simcity :)

someone at work said her aunt used to live in the top condo of the john hancock building in chicago. she said she liked to live in high places. kind of like metropolis i guess.

found this feed article on arcosanti:
"The problem I am confronting is the present design of cities only a few stories high, stretching outward in unwieldy sprawl for miles. As a result of their sprawl, they literally transform the earth, turn farms into parking lots and waste enormous amounts of time and energy transporting people, goods and services over their expanses. My solution is urban implosion rather than explosion. In nature, as an organism evolves it increases in complexity, and it also becomes a more compact or miniaturized system. The city too is an organism, one that should follow the same process of complexification and miniaturization to become a more lively container for the social, cultural, and spiritual evolution of [humankind]."
btw, didn't the big u take place in an arcology or something? i haven't read it but've heard there're copies floatin round...
posted by kliuless at 2:18 PM on February 25, 2002

mmm, phalic symbols...
posted by dagny at 2:22 PM on February 25, 2002

This is a wonderful idea that has been around for a long time. Frank Lloyd Wright did come up with one form of it, but the more notable form was developed by Le Corbusier. A smaller scale version of one of these buildings is in Marseilles. It is a large apartment building with various shops and services every 8 floors or so - it's a wonderful building but it has never been used to its full potential.

These buildings are something Americans are going to have to get used to. There is no more frontier to exploit, and we cannot afford to do this ridiculous routine where 100 million people hop in their cars and drive to work every morning. The quality and cost of this sort of centralized living would be extremely attractive. You wouldn't be allowed the sort of hermit's existance that seems to be the ideal - out in the country, neighbors many feet away. The fact is, the vast majority of people who live out in the country cannot enjoy the land because it is farmed or filled with other dipshits. If we all lived in clusters, the natural world could become a little more natural.

And as far as terrorist threats go, this sort of building could only exist after this country is largely destroyed, humiliated and changed in WW3, which should be in the next 20 years or so. After that, we'll all realize what our tastes in dwellings are worth. It is better for the entire world to clean up our KMarts, return the land to its original form and live responsibly.

Energy costs, btw, could be drastically reduced if the building had geothermal heating, which many permanent complexes do nowadays - you drill down to magma heated water and essentially get free energy forever. Only available in certain areas - ask your friendly neighborhood geologist for details.

Also, Architects do not have time on their hands to design large phallic monuments. They have shitheaded clients who make them build things like that. Case in point - the WTC - not just ONE ugly, vertically caged symbol of American financial superiority but TWO. The architect was forced to make the human aspects of the building as tolerable as he could. Architects are normally pretty competant, and idealistic - although some (Albert Kahn, the WTC guy) do make dreadful buildings, and some make buildings which are just a bit too novelty oriented for my taste (Robert Venturi, etc.). And some architects are the heroes of our people (Le Corbusier, Mies, Louis Kahn, HH Richardson, Tadao Ando, although I'm biased).
posted by Settle at 2:22 PM on February 25, 2002

i love the idea of big towers. i'd live in one. what i don't understand is why we persist in building cities made up of 3-dimensionally eficient buildings connected by two-dimensional transit spaces. we live in multi-storied apartments, we work in even-more-multi-storied buildings, and we move back and forth between them on single-story streets and roads. and we wonder why we have traffic problems?
posted by hob at 2:31 PM on February 25, 2002

um, here's that big u reference i was thinking of:
The villain of the story, however, is arguably the building itself. American Megaversity is one enormous cinderblock-and-florescent-tube structure, called the Plexus--a portmanteau, presumably, of complex and campus. "The Plex's environmental control system was designed so that anyone could spend four years there wearing only a jockstrap and a pair of welding goggles and yet never feel chilly or find the place too dimly lit." Eight identical dormitory towers loom over the main structure. The building is therefore uniform and impersonal in style throughout, with no real privacy or comfort. This anonymity and affectlessness of dormitory life under these conditions, Stephenson suggests, are deeply dehumanizing and promote irresponsibility.
big u.
posted by kliuless at 2:34 PM on February 25, 2002

These buildings are something Americans are going to have to get used to. There is no more frontier to exploit, and we cannot afford to do this ridiculous routine where 100 million people hop in their cars and drive to work every morning. The quality and cost of this sort of centralized living would be extremely attractive. You wouldn't be allowed the sort of hermit's existance that seems to be the ideal - out in the country, neighbors many feet away.

I'd love to see some research to demonstrate that this sort of building would be affordable to the middle classes, but I very much doubt that would be the case. It seems to me that construction and maintenance costs would make owning or renting in a mile-high community prohibitively expensive.

And while it might mean that you were closer to more people, there are plenty of people who live in cities now who are close to millions of people but are effectively hermits. Granting, for the moment, however that you would interact with more people, you'd probably be interacting with other very wealthy people, so the distance between the haves and the have nots would simply increase. A mile-high building would be the ultimate gated community.

It's clear that the suburbs cause a lot of environmental and social problems, and it would be great to have more people with shorter commute times. But it seems to me that there must be more cost-effective ways to achieve the same goals.
posted by anapestic at 2:42 PM on February 25, 2002

NYC already *is* an arcology, or at least it feels that way to me. It just happens to be spread out across a couple miles of island instead of going straight up.

Think about it: it's the only city in america where it's actually an inconvenience to own a car, since the city has its own built-in transportation systems that are far more efficient. You can spend weeks without spending more time outside than it takes to get from the door to the taxi and back, if you're so inclined. It even has the "vast open-air wooded parks." One of them, anyway. Living in NYC is more similar to living in outer space than it is to living in a 'normal' city.
posted by ook at 2:55 PM on February 25, 2002

A mile-high building would be the ultimate gated community.

On the contrary I think the wealthy elite will shun being in such close quarters with the common people and, instead, be the last demographic to cling to their suburban enclaves. Of course, I am assuming any of these projects make it past the intractable engineering and resource management problems.

A problem nobody has mentioned yet is the proliferation of disease. Nowadays, you're not likely to catch the latest strain of russian drug-resistent TB or african ebola because there is to much space between you and the nearest immuno-compromised carrier. But in a building where a million people live, share food stuffs, ventilation, elevators, etc... The chances are very slim you will not catch every disease passing through the place. And with a million residents there's likely to be a visitor from every corner of the world in your building at one time or another.
posted by plaino at 3:00 PM on February 25, 2002

These buildings are something Americans are going to have to get used to...

a BIG bs to that. Because the non-negotiable consideration is human scale. The suburbs are not the only alternative to grotesque, Orwellian structures.

By the way, what does a "frontier" have to do with it? Places like Park Slope, Brooklyn; Paris; certain parts of Chicago; and certain parts of Boston were not built on the frontier. None of Your SUVburbias belong to me!
posted by ParisParamus at 3:02 PM on February 25, 2002

I live in LA, sprawl is bad. You can't get anywhere without making "a trip". If all I had to do was go upstairs and downstairs life would be much easier.
posted by owillis at 3:18 PM on February 25, 2002

Hey, ook, there's more than just Central Park here. I went by Prospect Park today and walked along the beach at Coney Island this morning. All thanks to the subway. Also, even out here in Queens, I can get all I need to live within easy walking distance (5-7 blocks) should I decide to be provincial.
posted by meep at 3:18 PM on February 25, 2002

hey hey hey hey people don't misunderstand me. I don't think that mile high buildings are at all practical. Anyone who knows what a mile looks like going up could tell you that. More centralized housing could be more spacious and spread out than apartments are today, even. The key issue here is density. If we build denser we don't need to build upward. It just so happens that building up works pretty well.

But of course, living on the 200th floor of something would probably suck - and the HVAC issues would be trouble...everything would be trouble. There is no reason to do anything Orwellian- you're quite right to say so ParisParamus. Large apartment buildings need good designers to prevent them from becoming impersonal. Mile high buildings are impractical, and what is practical is NOT really some new time of building, just more large apartment buildings which draw people from the countryside.

And the tricky thing about sprawl is that you only really notice it as a problem when it is complete, when all the land is taken. We can see now where it is going.

Also, there are in my mind two factors which make living in Europe generally more pleasant than living here (we have a lot of strong points too, but these are lacking in most parts of the country): 1. A culture which goes back a long time (no old buildings, all cities scaled to cars, as in LA, which means that you never see anyone on the street as you would in NY or...or Utrecht...or somewhere) and 2. Residential density and most importantly the ability to get places on foot. I've spent a lot of time in LA and you need a car to get *anywhere* and getting there *sucks*.

Just imagine for a second - you want to drop by a friends place or pick some food up or a book from a library or maybe go for a swim, and rather than having to get in your car and park somewhere, just take a short walk to where you need to go. Awesome.

Now, one pile of BS in my last post was about people being hermits. Yes you can be a hermit in the city, and furthermore you can be more of a hermit since large populations lend anonymity to all actions you take...in NY you can do whatever you like cos you know you'll never see these people again. However, in denser housing the priority is community, *not* a city in the clouds. Le Corb's revolutionary idea from the 50s is far more pleasant and practical than the one this article refers to.

Also, NYC is sprawl. Some would argue it doesn't end until Boston for Chrissakes. There is an argument to be made for variety rather than polarization, but with the state of humanity (to use an important sounding but appropriate word) the way it is, polarization might become *essential*.
posted by Settle at 3:41 PM on February 25, 2002

Ook: Living in NYC is more similar to living in outer space than it is to living in a 'normal' city

Funny you should say that... there's a series of classic SF books written by James Blish about New York being lifted into space and getting into all sorts of hijinks around the galaxy.
posted by adrianhon at 3:56 PM on February 25, 2002

I loved those arcologies in SimCity. I didn't feel I had built a truly successful city unless I had a handful of them up to full capacity.

I definitely think this is the future. I mean, we're probably almost there with some of the hotels in Las Vegas...anyone care to weigh in/offer testimony on this? (I've never been to Vegas.)

And I'd much enjoy living in one of these towers as long as they didn't maximize space by placing thousands upon thousands of those TurnON (Hamster wheels) next to each other. Of course, I could probably live in a Microflat. I think it's about the size of my dorm room.
posted by jacobw at 5:57 PM on February 25, 2002

zeoslap, I'll consider the elevator problem actually solved when one of those Popular Mechanix diagrams is actually built. (Gee -- I just thought of the Star Trek transporter! Right, we can just dematerialize from the lobby and rematerialize on the 250th floor! Problem solved!) There are no indications in the SciAm article about construction and maintenance costs that would make it an affordable solution. Until then, it is considered a problem. No need to be snotty about reality.

Settle: is it just possible that your insistent, even suggestively fascistic vision ("Americans must ....") is belied by the very failure of the leCorb towers you mentioned? Perhaps they were never used "to their full capacity" because they were much too idealized and inflexible for the purpose. Consider those sky-malls -- are they really attractive to businesses? Are they too few, too discrete and disconnected, to attract casual foot traffic? The idea of the city needs to be much more flexible, despite the idealistic visions of architects like Wright (e.g. 'Broadacre City'). We may no longer have a frontier, but that is not the same as running out of room. The density of central urban areas may mean an alternative to sprawl, but it carries higher costs in general and requires a concomitant job environment to maintain those higher costs of living. But for the same reason of higher costs of living -- which lead to higher labor costs -- businesses will always be seeking a better deal, which undercuts the ability of the conurbation to maintain its overall payroll. This is not something that lends itself to simple, imposed solutions -- and if imposed solutions are the only kind that will work, then they are destined to fail, because Americans generally fight those sort tooth and nail.
posted by dhartung at 6:33 PM on February 25, 2002

Frank Lloyd Wright stopped architecting buildings, because he felt that all the decent space had been taken already. There was nowhere left to build. I think that something like this will eventually become a necessity. In a couple hundred years there are suppossed to be more people than there is earth surface to house them.
posted by xammerboy at 8:47 PM on February 25, 2002

Get it over with and just pave the Earth.
posted by solistrato at 9:03 PM on February 25, 2002

Repeat after me: None of Your SUVburbias belong to me!

posted by ParisParamus at 9:44 PM on February 25, 2002

posted by ParisParamus at 9:44 PM on February 25, 2002

I'm surprised that, in a discussion of skyscrapers and sprawl and whatnot in which Frank Lloyd Wright's "Illinois" came up, that only one person (dhartung) mentioned the mega-sprawling Broadacre City concept. The same goes for any of his other ideas regarding a balancing urban architecture with that of the rest of America. It's not quite as simple as "sprawl v. density" with him, and shouldn't be in the real world of zoning spats, market failure and bad taste, etc., either. His name for what such an America could become, or at least his ideal, was Usonia. The link here includes the Illinois and, really, is just damned neat.
posted by raysmj at 10:14 PM on February 25, 2002

The density of central urban areas may mean an alternative to sprawl, but it carries higher costs in general and requires a concomitant job environment to maintain those higher costs of living.

Highly, highly debatable. Not a settled question in the slightest. Sprawl brings its own high costs, including the funds needed to extend water, police and fire and even postal (required, by federal law, despite the mandate for USPS to be self-sufficient) service, etc. to new growth areas. You could go on and on here. (How about environmental damage?) Density brings high costs, but so does sprawl. How high the costs will be with each, though, depends upon almost strictly local factors.
posted by raysmj at 10:28 PM on February 25, 2002

One more: A excellent article on Broadacre City and the Usonia ideal, and their continuing relevance. Wright's egomania is examined as well, in an understatedly comic way.
posted by raysmj at 10:39 PM on February 25, 2002

In a couple hundred years there are suppossed to be more people than there is earth surface to house them

That sounds like hysterical global-warming-esque fuzzy math to me. I don't remember exactly, but I once saw a calculation that showed how the population of the ENTIRE earth (seven billion or so) today could easily fit inside Texas, and we'd still all get hundred square meters or so (quite a good space for a single-person apartment) of space -- and that was on the _ground floor_ only.

If any of you can confirm/deny those number here, that would be swell (I don't have the time right now), but one thing is for certain: we're not running out of space, and if we ever do, the alternatives will be vast as long as we allow the free market to explore them.
posted by dagny at 11:16 PM on February 25, 2002

To boldly go at right angles to a wonderful thread with random thoughts:

90: You just can't trust anybody to design a place from city scale down to individuals for you and your children and your grandchildren, etc, to live. Large scale arcology-like projects will focus on the efficiencies at the expense of adaptibility. Levitown will give you a living module that has enough elbow room so that you can remodel your house to meet your needs and screw the infrastructure costs. Ted Kazinski has a bucolic country retreat for sale (or how 'bout a BC pig farm?). Too complicated! Well, maybe it'll all work out.

180: Nothing costs what it really costs. Everybody knows that their debit card doesn't come close to paying for the true cost of the kilowatt that they just put in their Segway. You can't do a meaningful analysis of being a sardine vs. being Grizzly Adams without working out long-term costs. So, let's figure out the true cost of all our actions! Oh, wait, that's complicated too.

270: My great and good friend, Greg Vohs, was once a lowly ski bum. No, wait, he couldn't have been lowly since those people in Nepal thought he ws the bee's knees. At any rate: Once upon a time, he was hitchhiking through the Arizona sunbelt in search of his future, thinking that architecture sounded like a possibility. His first ride I don't know about, but since he's a handsome man let's say it was Linda Rondstadt (this was the 70s). She dropped him off at Arcosanti. He toured, was impressed, and left. Walking, with thumb out. Next stop, Taleisin West. Next ride, a very nice man conversant in the ins and outs of the architecture world. Upon learning of Greg's destination, he offered this advice: don't trust visionaries. Advice from Paolo Soleri as it turns out. Damn, this is a complicated world.

0: Does my heart good to see that people care about this.
posted by skyscraper at 1:30 AM on February 26, 2002

For those looking forward to the future: go Stand on Zanzibar
posted by skyscraper at 1:47 AM on February 26, 2002

mmm, phalic symbols...
Personally, I always thought the WTC twin towers evoked vulva more than phallus. Especially as it opened and closed as you moved around the site.
posted by HTuttle at 3:44 AM on February 26, 2002

(But then, sometimes a jelly doughnut is just a jelly doughnut.)
posted by HTuttle at 3:58 AM on February 26, 2002

(seven billion or so) today could easily fit inside Texas

Actually that seems to be right, assuming my rusty math is right: about 98 square meters. That's interesting.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:18 AM on February 26, 2002

Do the masses really want to live around the desolate, mesquite-laden area of Killeen, though? Do they really want to live packed around Waco or deal with water shortages in and around San Antonio? You think there is enough war and human suffering going on right now? Great. Move everybody down near Houston in August.
posted by raysmj at 7:23 AM on February 26, 2002

Well, better not mess with Texas, then.
posted by dhartung at 7:24 AM on February 26, 2002

sky scrapers are a blight on the surface of the planet and offensive to the human spirit. they are an exercise in futiility in their attempt to control nature, IMHO.
wake me when we can build sky scrapers that are anywhere close to being as efficient as a termite mound.
'Using aspect, insulation, complex ventilation and contrived evaporation they control the temperature of their abode to within a couple of degrees of the ideal and are secure within from all but the most specialised predators.'

Remember, not everyone gets a room with a view.

The 'vertical housing' (tower blocks) built in the uk during the 60s and 70s destroyed communities by one simple side effect - the loss of the street. Many have been replaced with street-based housing over the past 15 years.

The challenge is to create the 'street community' feel in an entirely different environment, in the case of the skyscraper home. It is much less work to simply build a street.
posted by asok at 7:24 AM on February 26, 2002

In a couple hundred years there are suppossed to be more people than there is earth surface to house them

Not to worry, we can count on war and disease to prevent this problem. Besides, we were supposed to have run out of food back in the 70's.

You build a mile-high tower in this country, you're going to need a two-mile-high parking garage to go with it.
posted by groundhog at 7:49 AM on February 26, 2002

stand on zanzibar was visionary :) we need more earthships!
posted by kliuless at 8:31 AM on February 26, 2002

The point re Texas is that, as a relatively small swath of the planet, it puts things in better perspective.

I think that, planing/architecture-wise, it was all downhill after 1940 or so. The best places to live were either all built by then or modeled on things that were built then.

Further to my first comment in this thread, apartment hallways positively SCARE me.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:37 AM on February 26, 2002

Fantastic conversation going on here. Just some of my reactions:
Settle: Minoru Yamasaki was the architect of the WTC, not Albert Kahn.

Tsui disappoints me because despite being both an architect and a planner, he falls into a trap that many architects fall into. He seems to think that people function similarly within a building as they do in a urban environment and that he can just scale up the fully designed and fully controlled environment of a single building and create a viable community. People just don't work that way.

Sprawl brings its own high costs, including the funds needed to extend water, police and fire and even postal ...service, etc. to new growth areas...Density brings high costs, but so does sprawl. How high the costs will be...depends upon almost strictly local factors.
raysmj, I agree with you completely, but with the current local government structure in most metro areas--that is, one that ignores the interrelatedness of towns in metro areas and allows each local government to function without consideration of its effects on its neighbors--the sprawlers tend not to feel the true costs of their sprawling. They pay some minimal price, a price that is not nearly equivalent to the true cost of their sprawl. The sprawlees who stay in the older urban area then pay more than their share of the costs in the form of higher taxes, conjestion, etc. Without some sort of a mechanism (a viable county or metro area governance structure) that causes the sprawlees to recognize and pay the true costs of their actions, the above situation won't change.
posted by ajayb at 8:58 AM on February 26, 2002

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