05.18.06

Wright Stamps

Posted in General, Art & Drama, Architecture at 9:59 pm by Administrator

Frank LLoyd Wright stamps

I got my 1966 Frank Lloyd Wright stamps today. They came in a sheet of 100 and only cost me 1000% of face value! Not quite as colorful as the Ayn Rand stamps, but I think they’ll work. Notice the Guggenheim Museum in the background.

I still wish the post office would come out with a Frank Lloyd Wright Houses set.

Detail of Frank Lloyd Wright stamp 

Click for detail image.

05.17.06

Foreign Skyscrapers and Local Flavor

Posted in World, Architecture at 12:32 am by Administrator

I have in the past been critical of some of the weird skyscrapers that have been built in (usually) foreign cities. These buildings may be ugly or at least strange looking; but I actually like that they are there. Wouldn’t it be boring if, no matter where you went in the world, the skylines all looked the same? 

Examples:

Taipei 101 - Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei 101  Taipei 101 at night

Taipei 101 is one of the ugliest skyscrapers in the world. If it had been built in view of my house, I would seriously consider moving. That being said, seeing this building would definitely remind you you’re in Asia. I would prefer the world’s tallest building to be in the US, but at least it’s in free market Taiwan and not communist China.

Burj Dubai - Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Birj Dubai render

When completed in 2008, Burj Dubai will be the tallest building in the world (see statement above). I actually find this building attractive (in an Emerald City of Oz sort of way). Still, I think it works better in the UAE than it would in the US. It just wouldn’t fit in with the other buildings in Chicago or New York.

Incidentally, the building bears superficial resemblance to Frank Lloyd Wright’s proposed Mile High Illinois tower. It’s too bad I have no other reason to visit Dubai. This is one skyscraper I must see.

Burj Dubai construction photo  Burj Dubai under construction Burj Dubai under construction

Construction Photos (http://www.burjdubaiskyscraper.com/)

Kingdom Centre - Riyadh, Saudia Arabia

Kingdom Centre

I suspect Kingdom Centre is the result of a bet between architects as to who could design the strangest structure and con someone into building it. I’m not sure if it won (There are some strange buildings out there.), but it is definitely a contender. This may be the strongest evidence yet that  money can’t buy taste.

The building looks like some kind of carpentry tool. It would be fun, however, to fly a plane between its “claws” or bungee jump off the sky bridge.

Shanghai World Financial Center - Shanghai, China

Shanghai World Financial Center

I wouldn’t actually mind the Shanghai World Financial Center’s design if it wasn’t for that stupid hole. What were they thinking? Construction of this building began in 1997, but was suspended due to the Asian financial crisis. Work resumed in 2005 and is expected to be completed around 2008.

05.06.06

Skyscrapers and Such

Posted in Art & Drama, Architecture at 1:50 pm by Administrator

Freedom Tower 

After almost five years, they’ve finally begun pouring the foundation for Freedom Tower. The final design doesn’t look half as bad as it did, but I still wish they would have gone with the Twin Towers 2 concept. [Insert Donald Trump quote here.]

The symbolic power of the original WTC towers was obvious. Why do you think the terrorists attacked them twice? By replacing two big towers with a single smaller tower, we’ve essentially said: “We give up! If we rebuild them they’ll just knock them down again.”

Much more troubling to me than the Freedom Tower, is the design and content of the proposed World Trade Center Memorial. Some of the planned exhibits could even be interpreted as justifying the attacks. Back to skyscrapers though.

The recent burst of activity on the Chicago skyscraper front is encouraging. The current emphasis is on hotels and residential units rather than business structures.

Trump Tower Chicago

The construction of Trump International Tower in Chicago is proceeding nicely. I tend to prefer square corners in skyscrapers designed for offices, but I think the rounded corners of Trump’s building are somehow more appropriate for its residential nature. Don’t ask me why. (How much do you think the condos on the top floor will cost?)

Waterview Tower Chicago

Also under construction in Chicago is the Waterview Tower, a Shangri-La luxury hotel. It won’t be quite as tall as the Trump International Tower, but it’s website promises traditional Asian hospitality. Sounds good to me. The building isn’t unattractive either.

Fordham Spire model

On the other hand, Fordham Spire, a proposed residential skyscraper for Chicago looks like it’s been heated by a blowtorch and twisted with a pair of pliers. I don’t think it’s ugly per se; I just don’t like it. Maybe I’ll get lucky and the deal will fall through.

Whatever the case, this trend of residential skyscrapers will make some Bryan Larsen paintings a little more realistic. (How cool it would be to live in a place like that!)

Just the Beginning

More on this later. I’m looking for submissions for a “World’s Ugliest Skyscrapers” list. Let me know what you think. (I’m pretty sure the top prize will go to the Taipei 101. )