Credit: Clay LeConey on Unsplash
Skyscrapers used to capture our imagination; today they’re just as likely to capture our scorn. Attend any community review meeting for new tall construction (or read the digital equivalent, online comments in articles about the project) and you’ll hear the same laments about ‘eyesores’ that ‘ruin the city skyline’ and ‘block out the sun,’ as if shade is some dark scourge, and not in fact a precious commodity in any urban environment during hot summer months. Gone is the soaring rhetoric used to describe engineering and artistic masterpieces like the Empire State Building.
This shift in opinion is not altogether unwarranted (nor is it that much of a shift. Parisians, famously, loathed the Eiffel Tower when it was first built). Most new skyscrapers (“supertalls” is the jargon used for anything over 300 meters) are residential towers for the super-rich. As such, they engender resentment from the rest of us who are just struggling to keep pace with the rising cost of our own non-supertall housing; glass and steel monuments to inequality, towering over us. Even Jacksonville has its own sordid tale of residential tower hubris.
Nevertheless, ‘Let the rich have their supertalls,” argues Jerusalem Demsas in the Atlantic, in a rousing defense of skyscrapers. After refuting the typical list of complaints about supertalls, she summarizes the skyscraper imperative, “the America we have today, characterized by sprawl, high housing prices, and congestion, is financially, politically, and environmentally unsustainable. We have to build up.’
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The act of designing a product or providing a solution to a problem in an elaborate or complicated manner, where a simpler solution can be demonstrated to exist with the same efficiency and effectiveness as that of the original design.
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