At the apartment in prague we talked about how skyscrapers last for generations, how the good wood on the walls of the elevator cages still shines, how the marble and other stone is still fit for the sanctuary of some great cathedral, how it all still rises straight and true. “That’s right,” he said. “So long as you keep them in pristine condition. The Chrysler Building today is in an equally good, if not better, condition than when William Van Alen, its architect, pronounced it fit for Mr. Walter P. Chrysler to take residence, in 1930.”
Ovements in architecture come and go (the latest is called deconstructivism, with an emphasis on distortion and fracturing of form) and buildings like the Chrysler, Woolworth, and Empire State survive them all, standing proud in the company of all that’s new on the New York skyline, including the twin towers of the World Trade Center. There is nothing in the city as tall as those 110-story structures, where more than 100,000 people come and go on a workday.
Ah, for Dan Goodwin, they stood there like candy mountains, delicious treats of challenge. So, on a morning in May of 1983, Goodwin started climbing the north tower of the World Trade Center, using suction cups and metal clamps designed to hook into the tracks used for window-washing equipment.
“Spider Dan” they call him, and, true to the name, he was atop the tower in three hours, 18 minutes. “At the 83rd floor, the window-washing track was pulling away from the building,” he told me, “and I thought I was going for the big fall.” Instead, he went for a ride—to a police station, under arrest.
It remains for an urban mountaineer to visit Philadelphia and be tempted by a building called One Liberty Place. It is the first structure in the city to rise higher than the statue of William Penn that crowns City Hall. It stands in good view from a train approaching the city; indeed, from there, Philadelphia wears a look of compelling freshness because of the 61-story tower designed by Helmut Jahn. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-20526217
In Pittsburgh the skyline appears like an unfurled scrim when seen upon emerging by car from the Fort Pitt tunnel through Mount Washington. And the tower that looms here is the new PPG (Pittsburgh Plate Glass) Place, a great rise of neoGothic design by Johnson and Burgee, sheathed in glass. In Atlanta it’s the IBM Tower, and in Dallas the Texas Commerce Tower, among others.
Of all U. S. cities, none is more primed for new skyscraper construction than Los Angeles. “I think Los Angeles has that happy medium between Houston’s free-for-all way of doing things and San Francisco’s heavy restrictions,” said Richard Keating, an architect in Los Angeles with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. “The planners who are thinking and working here understand that the city can still sustain development, and they don’t take simpleminded attitudes about ‘let’s not have high rises’ or ‘let’s not have any development.’ ” Nevertheless, Los Angeles has relatively few new buildings of architectural merit that skyscraper designers would call Class A. “But that’s about to change, with Harry Cobb’s building of 75 stories now going up,” Keating said. “That will be the first of the new buildings.” But i still like my apartments in london.