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Old October 25th, 2011, 03:01 PM   #1
Jay
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Are skyscrapers becoming less special?

With all the new towers in the world going up, does it seem like skyscrapers, even an 1000 foot building, are nothing special anymore?

Just curious on your thoughts, are skyscrapers becoming less special for cities?
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Old October 25th, 2011, 03:15 PM   #2
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Not really for me. They seem to be a symbol of the city once again but it does depend on design as to what they are saying!
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Old October 25th, 2011, 04:37 PM   #3
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That depends on the architecture. A steel and glass box is not that impressive, but an art deco masterpiece like the Empire state building is something else.
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Old October 26th, 2011, 02:42 AM   #4
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Well it depends on where it is built and when IMO. Like someone else said, the Empire State Building is special because of it's iconic status and it is in what is more or less the capitol of the world, New York City.

Take a look at the Dubai Marina supertalls. In 20 years, who will remember those? There's too many of them, they're so close, and they all look more or less the same. Those aren't that special.

In addition, all of those random supertalls going up in cities no one's heard of until they got on this site and saw a new proposal or something under construction and look at that city and have never seen it before. Those aren't that special either.

Really, it all depends on what the skyscraper stands for. Let's take the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai for example. 421m, 88F. One of China's first supertalls, built in 1998. It is "the Empire State Building of China". Was once one of the world's tallest. Now take a look at a building of similar height, DAMAC Heights in Dubai. 420m, 85F. To be be built in the Dubai Marina, a supertall among supertalls.

Height is nowhere near everything, like many of these developing cities/countries are seeming to think. This is why skyscrapers like the Chrysler Building, Bank of China Tower and John Hancock Center will always be more "special" then these megatalls going up, like the Ping'an IFC, or the Golden Finance 117, or any Marina supertall.

So to answer your question: yes. Skyscrapers and supertall skyscrapers are becoming less important these days, when everbody and their mother has one.


If I am coming of as elitist, city-vs-city, or otherwise rude or ill-mannered, my apologies.

Last edited by azn_man12345; October 26th, 2011 at 05:59 AM.
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Old October 26th, 2011, 03:13 AM   #5
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In addition, all of those random supertalls going up in cities no one's heard of until they got on this site and saw a new proposal or something under construction and look at that city and have never seen it before. Those aren't that special either.
Just to play devils advocate, I think others would say that is precisely why those skyscrapers are special. They take a city no one has ever heard of, and puts its on the map. And at the end of the day, that's why they're built for the most part.

But I agree with what you said. Height is becoming less and less important to me personally, at least in comparison to what is being built internationally because of the different way skyscrapers are financed in different parts of the globe. So it obviously comes to quality, which I think for the most part is less interesting in places where the buildings are more statement driven, than demand driven unfortunately for some reason. But that's a broad generalization, with exceptions, and each case is unique.
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Old October 26th, 2011, 06:12 AM   #6
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^I understand the point you are making, but I don't think I argued my point well enough. Skyscrapers are going up in many cities and are being built under the claim that they are "symbolic" or "representative" of their city's rise as an international city. Take Burj Khalifa. It was constructed as a symbol of Dubai rising up in the world, a growing, lustrous city. Now the building sits mostly unoccupied in a city of empty supertalls.

Or the Kingdom Tower. Call me a fool, but up until my interest of architecture (beginning about 4 years ago), I had never heard of Jeddah. Now Kingdom Tower is being advertised as "symbolic of Jeddah's rise."

To me, a world city is what constitutes the need (and want, but is mostly need driven) to build the world's tallest building. A world city makes a WTB. Building a WTB will not make a city a world city. Burj Khalifa, Kingdom Tower, and every building to take the WTB title in the future is basically built to say "Mine is bigger than yours." But not even the city's dick is bigger than the rest. Just that developer's dick is bigger than the rest.

To me, tall skyscrapers stopped being special when they stopped being about the people and the city and the pride they represented and more about money, ego and having a bigger dick for the sake of having a bigger dick.



In addition, if someone's aiming to build an icon, supertall skyscrapers have never been the way to go about that. People don't care for supertalls as identifiers for cities; they look at much smaller monuments: the Statue of Liberty, the Roman Coliseum, Stonehenge. These are all much more representative of a city or culture then any WTB can ever be (with the possible exception of the ESB and Chrysler).
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Old October 26th, 2011, 04:04 PM   #7
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Depends what you mean by special.

Some of the best and well thought out skyscrapers architecturally are the smaller kind. they're the ones i find more interesting and tend to pay most attention to. On a world scale, by size, 300m towers are less and less important, with that I would agree. In Dubai you sort of just say "oh, another 300m+, meh" - probably because they're not the most... architecturally forward skyscrapers
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Old October 26th, 2011, 04:22 PM   #8
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that's the thing, I used to think 300 meter towers were massive (I suppose they still are in their own way) but compared to the new buildings that are twice that size they're not quite as special as I used to think they are.

I feel like a city needs to build 500 meter towers or higher to really be considered a skyscraper city these days.

maybe I'm over exaggerating but 1000 footers are like the new 500 footers...
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Old October 26th, 2011, 05:37 PM   #9
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I think New York's Skycrapers are becoming a little dated. They're going the way of St Paul's Cathedral and Rio's christ the redeemer: iconic because of their historical value rather than their engineering value. The Empire State building isn't even that tall anymore, 19th in the world, behind buildings noone apart from skycraper fanatics even knew existed. There are now plenty of places with skylines comparable to Manhattan, so definitely the skyscraper skyline is becoming less special when pretty much every country in the G20 has a true skyscraper city.

I think it's a little unfair to say skyscrapers are becoming less special in general, since there is a pretty clear agenda behind that: a skyscraper in a developing country is automatically 'soulless' and 'mundane' compared with American ones. I think this judgment is extremely unfair, because American skycrapers post 1940 are horrifically uninteresting: the Arab ones in particular are much much more iconic: say what you like about the Abraj al Bait and Dubai, but they are considerably more inventive than the likes of Chicago and New York's new generation. Even the Freedom Tower in NYC is not massively exciting architecturally compared with the Burj Khalifa and the Jin Mao tower.
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Old October 26th, 2011, 06:31 PM   #10
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Skyscrapers are as special as they ever where, this has not changed, however the height required for a skyscraper to be special has drasticaly increased. For thousands of years the Giza pyramids were considered megatalls and they were the tallest buildings in existence. Now they are cathegorized only as highrises. A thousand years ago 100 meters were something special. 20 years ago 300 meters were something special. Now, 500 or even 600 meters are needed for a building to be special and to not be just one out of many. Buildings less than 500 meters are now a common sight. Just as in the 70's and 80's only America had supertalls, now it lacks a single buulding that would be special with it's height. Though fortunately even thought they lack a 500 meters + building, their buildings have in my opinion by far the best design. It should be noted that height is only half of a building's success, the other half is design
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Old October 26th, 2011, 07:32 PM   #11
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That is a legitimate question, and I'd have to say to a certain extent I think the answer is yes; when every city is packed full of "skyscrapers", they are definitely not the same source of wonderment as they were back in the '20's, '30's, etc...
The public's thirst for novelty is insatiable, and novelty shaped towers that please one generation are either forgotten or ridiculed by the next.
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Old October 26th, 2011, 08:05 PM   #12
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For Brazil... skyscrapers are still a dream... due to old laws and fears our tallest building has just 170m... but we have 2 over 180m being built, but no real 200m + skyscraper being built... So, I'll say, for brazilians, skyscrapers still have the strength, power and strong presence.
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Old October 26th, 2011, 08:32 PM   #13
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Skyscrapers are nothing special if there's only a few scrapers in a city. A skyline has to be massive with tons of scrapers, that makes a city and a skyline special and brings out the WOW-factor.
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Old October 26th, 2011, 10:20 PM   #14
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There are now plenty of places with skylines comparable to Manhattan...
Really? Name some. I can see Chicago and Hong Kong, but Manhattan is home to at least 90 buildings over 600 feet tall, pretty sure that's #1 in the world, and has the 2nd most buildings over 200 meters.

There are definitely skyscrapers in Dubai, and Abu Dhabi for example, that I like, but for the most part they are extremely tacky, and use cheap materials. That's my opinion, and you have yours.

In all fairness, the Empire State Building was built largely built out of ego too. It was called the Empty State Building for a while, and the guy who paid for it asked the architect while he was designing it, "How high can you build it, before it falls over?" And there were building contests between all the NY developers for who had the tallest building, going back to the Woolworth building, which was built taller than the Metropolitan Life Insurance Bldg (then the tallest in the world) on Madison n 23rd because Metro Life had once refused Mr. Woolworth a mortgage, or so the story goes.

So NY went through that type of phase as well, however even during the pissing contest NY developers had at the beginning of the 20th century, NY was already an economic powerhouse on a global scale, not a city attempting to become one.

Big buildings are simply a result of an economically important, and vibrant city, not the cause, case and point is London. I think this phenomenon won't be particularly long lived, with the global economy sputtering along at a snails pace, and the Dubai experiment not going particularly well.
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Old October 27th, 2011, 12:23 AM   #15
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Really? Name some. I can see Chicago and Hong Kong, but Manhattan is home to at least 90 buildings over 600 feet tall, pretty sure that's #1 in the world, and has the 2nd most buildings over 200 meters.
But the phenomenon of a massive number of high buildings in a small area is everywhere. Sao Paolo makes New York look like a little village in terms of highrise buildings, Hong Kong surpasses it in buildings over 200m, and look at shanghai:



Quote:
There are definitely skyscrapers in Dubai, and Abu Dhabi for example, that I like, but for the most part they are extremely tacky, and use cheap materials. That's my opinion, and you have yours.
Fair enough. But I think that's partly a cultural thing. I personally can't stand the style of New York scrapers as simply enlarged townhouses and neo-classical or art deco buildings.
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Old October 27th, 2011, 04:49 AM   #16
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I don't know if skyscrapers specifically are becoming less special, but building as tall as possible isn't as cool as it used to be. Now the focus is more on good architecture, efficiency, and urban design, which is a good thing. In fact I think the whole taller is better trend ended decades ago. It's now about doing the most with limited space and building things that are actually useful to the surrounding community, whether it be skyscrapers, highrises, or even houses.

Shanghai or Hong Kong packing the place with cheap highrises isn't cool or a good thing, it's ugly and stupid. Also most of Dubai's architecture is ugly as hell too, only a few buildings are exceptions such as the Burji Khalifa. All the cities that are building as fast as they can with little thought to building standards or urban design are going to deply regret it a decade or two from now.

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Old October 27th, 2011, 06:08 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Copperknickers View Post
But the phenomenon of a massive number of high buildings in a small area is everywhere. Sao Paolo makes New York look like a little village in terms of highrise buildings, Hong Kong surpasses it in buildings over 200m, and look at shanghai:





Fair enough. But I think that's partly a cultural thing. I personally can't stand the style of New York scrapers as simply enlarged townhouses and neo-classical or art deco buildings.

Hong Kong should be the only one on that list. Sao Paulo doesn't have anything near as tall as NY, and Shanghai doesn't have near as many 150-200m buildings.

Hong Kong yea, obviously gives NY a run for it's money, not denying that. Shanghai will be impressive once the Shanghai tower is done... but Sao Paulo? Really?
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Old October 27th, 2011, 06:13 AM   #18
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Even that being said, I don't feel I can look at NYC and Chicago's skyline the same anymore unless they start building 500 meter buildings or higher, hopefully one day that will be a reality.

The USA invented skyscrapers... The USA, even if not building the tallest of buildings, should at least keep up.
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Old October 27th, 2011, 06:27 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay View Post
Even that being said, I don't feel I can look at NYC and Chicago's skyline the same anymore unless they start building 500 meter buildings or higher, hopefully one day that will be a reality.

The USA invented skyscrapers... The USA, even if not building the tallest of buildings, should at least keep up.
Exactly how I feel right here.
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Old October 27th, 2011, 08:23 AM   #20
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Quote:
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Even that being said, I don't feel I can look at NYC and Chicago's skyline the same anymore unless they start building 500 meter buildings or higher, hopefully one day that will be a reality.

The USA invented skyscrapers... The USA, even if not building the tallest of buildings, should at least keep up.
Just because some of the ugly Chinese sprawl cities (Hong Kong being the ONLY exception) doesn't mean you can began down grading some of the planned Western cities.
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