More Twisted Buildings

Posted: March 26, 2016 in Artistry, Industrial Collapse, Skyscrapers, Technophilia
Tags: , ,

A long while back (8 years ago), I drew attention to a curious bit of rhyming taking place in the world of architecture: the construction of skyscrapers that twist from base to top (see also here). I even suggested that one per city was needed, which seems to be slowly manifesting. Back then, the newest installment was the Infinity Tower, now fully built and known as the Cayan Tower. The doomed planned Chicago Spire has yet to get off the ground. Another incarnation of the basic twisting design is the Evolution Tower in Moscow, completed in 2014 (though I only just learned about it):


There are plenty more pics at the Skyscraper page devoted to this building.

News of this development comes to me by way of James Howard Kunstler’s Eyesore of the Month feature at his website. I draw attention to Kunstler because he is far better qualified to evaluate and judge architecture than am I, even though most of his remarks are disparagement. Kunstler and I share both aesthetic and doomer perspectives on stunt architecture, and the twisting design seems to be one faddish way to avoid the boxy, straight-line approach to supertall buildings that dominated for some fifty years. Indeed, many buildings of smaller stature now seek that same avoidance, which used to be accomplished via ornamentation but is now structural. Such designs and construction are enabled by computers, thought it remains to be seen how long maintenance and repair can be sustained in an era of diminishing financial resources. (Material resources are a different but related matter, but these days, almost no one bothers with anything without financial incentive or reward.)

When the last financial collapse occurred in 2008 (extending into 2009 with recovery since then mostly faked), lots of projects were mothballed. I note, however, that Chicago has many new projects underway, and I can only surmise that other skylines are similarly full of cranes signalling the return of multibillion-dollar construction projects aimed at the well-off. Mention of crumbling infrastructure has been ongoing for decades now. Here’s one recent example. Yet attention and funding seems to flow in the direction of projects that really do not need doing. While it might be true that the discrepancy here lies with public vs. private funding, it appears to me another case of mismanaging our own affairs by focusing too much on marquee projects while allowing dated and perhaps less attractive existing structures to decay and crumble.

  1. kaleberg says:

    In the 1960s everyone was sure that computers would mean “glandular” architecture. It took a bit longer than everyone thought, but now we’ve got it. These buildings are also better built than a lot of earlier buildings. Citicorp Center in NYC needed a retrofit, because someone didn’t think clearly about wind shear issues. These modern buildings go through finite element analysis, so they can handle a hurricane.

    • Brutus says:

      I hear conflicting reports about whether today’s designs are better built. The Thompson Center in Chicago, a Helmut Jahn design completed in 1985, turned into a fiasco due to cost-cutting on exterior windows that led to inability to regulate heat and cold properly outside the temperate parts of the calendar. A newer design, the Pritzker Pavilion, design by Frank Gehry, has terrific visual appeal but fails almost totally as a concert venue because of acoustic insufficiency. (Opinions differ.) In comparison, it’s difficult to find something from the 1920s to 40s, the art deco era, that doesn’t function better and age pretty well. Some of those designs were stunts, too, but at least are connected to a far superior aesthetic than those of today. (Again, opinions differ.)

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