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View Poll Results: Ponte City would look better,
as an apartment building 12 60.00%
as a high-rise prison 8 40.00%
Voters: 20. You may not vote on this poll

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Old August 1st, 2006, 06:34 AM   #1
Manila-X
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Ponte City Apartments: apartment or prison?

Ponte City Apartments is the 2nd tallest building in Johannesburg and is the tallest residential building in Africa. The apartment was located in the Hillbrow area of the cityl. During the mid 1990s, the crime rate in the Hillbrow area rose and there were plans of converting Ponte City to a high-rise maximum security prison.

In your opinion, do you think Ponte City would remain as an apartment building or convert it to a prison?

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Old August 1st, 2006, 07:54 AM   #2
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If they actually put effort into remodeling it i think it would be nice maybe they should try it.
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Old August 1st, 2006, 09:23 AM   #3
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If Ponte City was converted to a prison, imagine how bad Joburg's skyline would look being dominated by a prison!
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Old August 1st, 2006, 12:30 PM   #4
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an Highrise-Prison will be great.
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Old August 1st, 2006, 11:20 PM   #5
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I thought it was the HQ for Vodacom! Would it make sense to have it as a maximum security prison? Why not have it away from so many people?
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 12:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WANCH
If Ponte City was converted to a prison, imagine how bad Joburg's skyline would look being dominated by a prison!
I agree! They should NOT turn it into a prison!!!
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 05:49 AM   #7
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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Skyscraper jail for sky-high crime

In Johannesburg, they say that if you like science fiction, you'll love Ponte City. Towering above the downtown area, Africa's tallest apartment block is a concrete, glass, and steel folly dating from the early 1970s.

The view of Johannesburg's business district and the surrounding plateau is breathtaking. But the internal shaft, plunging 52 floors, is gloomy and dizzying, a giant trash chute reminiscent of the "Star Wars" Death Star.

Coca-Cola gave sci-fi fans another jolt when it erected a six-story-high neon sign on the building's roof. It dominates the skyline for 30 miles, reminding dystopia lovers of the airborne Coke ads in "Blade Runner," Ridley Scott's cinematic vision of a futuristic Los Angeles.

The science-fiction allusions may not end there. Rising crime in Berea - an all-white area until the collapse of apartheid - has driven most of the former residents into the affluent suburbs, and rentals have plummeted.

Ponte's owners are planning to turn it into a high-rise jail that will tower over one of the world's most crime-ridden cities. For movie buffs the allusion is obvious: "Escape From New York," John Carpenter's 1981 cult hit that transformed Manhattan into a giant penal colony.

But the building's owners insist there is nothing fanciful about their proposal. The idea to turn Ponte City into a prison originated with U.S. architect Paul Silver, an internationally recognized expert on jail construction who first came to South Africa two years ago at the invitation of the Ministry of Correctional Services.

Asked to find a way of providing cells for at least 2,000 prisoners in or near downtown Johannesburg - the epicenter of a South African crime wave that includes 11,000 murders each year - he spent months inspecting vacant lots and existing buildings before he came upon Ponte City. "I went and took a look and realized it was absolutely perfect," he says. "It's a lousy apartment building, but a perfect prison."

Silver's proposal is to install decks in the central shaft - one every four floors - and to remove part of the outer wall over each deck to create exercise spaces big enough for indoor soccer or basketball. The apartments in the outer walls would be easily converted into cells - each with its own barred picture window. The prisoners would have plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular view because, he says, escape from the world's tallest prison would be all but impossible.

Few Johannesburgers take the proposal seriously - even those who live in the building. Edgar Ramakgopa, a technician who shares an apartment on the 50th floor with five friends, jokes: "I like staying here very much. If they turn it into a prison, I will become a guard."

But according to Don Stewart, representative for the owners, Vincemus Investments Ltd., the building has already been rezoned and the proposal approved "in principle" by the government and city council. The government is expected to request a new Johannesburg prison this month and, Stewart says, the consortium is confident that it can deliver for around 250 million rand ($50 million), 60 percent of the estimated cost of building a similar facility from scratch.

Critics say opposition is likely to grow as realization sinks in that it is not a joke. Henning Rasmuss, an architect, writer, and lecturer on Johannesburg's urban environment, says the idea of having the city skyline dominated by the world's tallest prison is "scary" and would do nothing to help the image of a city already generally acknowledged to be in serious trouble.

By day, the streets of the downtown central business district still bustle with office workers, and the end to apartheid restrictions on black movement has allowed street traders to flourish, giving an African air to what would otherwise look like a mid-size U.S. city. But the often-magnificent buildings that tower above the streets are in many cases vacant or half-empty, abandoned by white-owned business in the flight to the suburbs.

At Christmas, the five-star Carlton - formerly Johannesburg's premier hotel - shut down because few visitors wanted to stay there anymore. In its last years, the hotel provided armed bodyguards for guests who fancied a stroll outside.

Rasmuss says Johannesburg's future, like that of so many U.S. cities that endured similar blight, lies in persuading people to live and work downtown. But unlike in the U.S., where urban "gentrification" has been led by affluent people fleeing boredom, traffic jams, and property costs in suburbs, the future of Johannesburg lies with the relatively poor black majority, he says. Several buildings are being converted into affordable apartments using a government grant designed to address serious shortages left over from the apartheid era, which ended in the early 1990s.

Whites may flee to the suburbs, Rasmuss says, but for many blacks, downtown Johannesburg remains Egoli, "the place of gold," the descendant of the mining town that sprang up along the great Witwatersrand gold reef 112 years ago. A vibrant if harsh city of opportunity, it still acts as a magnet of hope for people from all over Africa, just as New York once lured the poor of Europe.

Johannesburg "doesn't look good, and it doesn't look like it used to - some of the parks are now being used to dump vegetables or repair minibus taxis," Rasmuss says. "It is now an African city, and it used to be a white city in Africa. But the process is a very hopeful one and positive. The problem is that the people who debate about Johannesburg are white."

By ED O'LOUGHLIN, Associated Newspapers Ltd., 27 April 1998
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 01:14 PM   #8
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They should turn it into an appartment building - creating a 50(?) story jail dead in the middle of the downtown area is a disaster waiting to happen. And once its goes wrong, it will go wrong catastrophically (riot, fire, use your imaginion).
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 10:43 PM   #9
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Can't believe that the prison option is winning... My God, one of the most famous Joburg landmarks turned into a prison??? That building and its area has so much potential... Hillbrow was once one of the hippest areas of Joburg, things are changing (improving) over there, I'm hopeful for the future of Hillbrow.
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Old August 3rd, 2006, 04:20 AM   #10
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This is a disaster waiting to happen...
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Old August 3rd, 2006, 04:26 AM   #11
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Guys, it is NOT being turned into a highrise prison... that's OLD news, and was only considered and studied. There isn't even a need or any demand for it to become a prison, and that would definitely not fit in with the official city plan, or the direction the city is going in.

By the way, it looks STUNNING and (believe it or not) quite modern at night, all lit up. The logo twirls and spins and rings of neon light play up the perimeter of the tower at the top. In the movie TSOTSI, one can see this... it's neat footage.

Anyways, here's the latest news on the state of the tower... GREAT ARTICLE which includes history, etc... PLEASE read it if you are interested!!!

http://www.joburg.org.za/2003/dec/dec24_ponte.stm

Ponte during construction:


Ponte upon completion:


Hillbrow, the downtown neighbourhood the tower is located in, was Johannesburg's hippest area... even London, NYC, or other world cities couldn't match it. It was a bohemian, dense (apartment building zoning was ridiculously loose), liberal neighbourhood of record shops, cafes, and clubs/discos. The reason it never became well-known worldwide as a great place to live was because of the weight of apartheid on the world's conscience.
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Old August 3rd, 2006, 04:27 AM   #12
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yes it is!!!
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Old August 3rd, 2006, 04:32 AM   #13
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Ponte City @ night:



The Hillbrow neighbourhood has been reduced to this: (due to illegal immigrants, etc.)

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Old August 3rd, 2006, 06:18 AM   #14
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At least the conditions in both Ponte City and Hillbrow have improved compared to the last decade.

But what if Ponte City was successfully converted to a prison? How would it look and will it become effective as a maximum security penitentiary?
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Old August 3rd, 2006, 07:12 AM   #15
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WANCH you continue to astound me. How do you come up with all these things? I give you credit that you are a true lover of architecture, and a veritable font of information and cool photos. Very interesting question..... I've learned a lot thru your threads!
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Old August 3rd, 2006, 07:14 AM   #16
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I just can't imagine any city turning a building of this caliber into a prison anywhere near the heart of the city.
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Old August 3rd, 2006, 07:23 AM   #17
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BTW it's actually their third tallest building in the downtown/core area.

1.) Hillbrow tower
2.) Carlton Centre (less floors than Ponte, but taller)
3.) Ponte City
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Old August 3rd, 2006, 07:29 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thryve
BTW it's actually their third tallest building in the downtown/core area.

1.) Hillbrow tower
2.) Carlton Centre (less floors than Ponte, but taller)
3.) Ponte City
But the Hillbrow Tower is more a freestanding structure
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Old August 3rd, 2006, 07:57 AM   #19
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yep
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Old August 4th, 2006, 07:57 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEAfan
I just can't imagine any city turning a building of this caliber into a prison anywhere near the heart of the city.
It would really suck especially if it's the tallest residential building in Africa!

Look at Chicago, they have a high-rise jail in their downtown area

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