Right Here, Right Now

The Skyscraper Museum

Join Alice Bloom and yours truly at the Skyscraper Museum on November 19th to talk about all things supertall! Event is free and open to the public. More information here. A gem of a museum, with a website that is a living archive of architectural and engineering voices.

Skyscrapers wins 2014 IPPY Gold!

Delighted to announce that Skyscrapers won the 2014 Gold Medal in Architecture from the Independent Publishers Association!

Skyscrapers: a cure for loneliness & overconsumption? Judith Dupré on the world’s most extraordinary buildings

I was delighted to interview with Gwarlingo‘s incomparable Michelle Aldredge!  Here’s an excerpt on One World Trade Center, but treat yourself to the full read.

There is much to like, even love, about this skyscraper. Like every SOM building, One WTC’s detailing is exceedingly fine, a trademark of the firm. The crystalline tower, sheathed in glass to catch the nuance of every passing cloud, wraps around a “super concrete” core that is stronger than steel. The square base echoes the bases of the original twin towers and evolves as it rises into an eight-sided obelisk, the obelisk being one of the most ancient of memorial forms. Future tenants will appreciate their offices, which are climate-controlled and filled with light, and, of course, the amazing views.

However, the design’s truest audacity is largely invisible to the eye. Its safety innovations, which anticipate a dark spectrum of worst-case scenarios, have already changed how skyscrapers around the globe are being built. This is a practical beauty, with a dignity and integrity that I believe will grow on people quite quickly. For me, having lived downtown for twenty years, One WTC fills the gaping hole in the skyline and in my heart.

Notes on a Book Cover

Ancora Imparo ran the story of how the cover of Monuments came into being:

The reading public rarely suspects the blood, sweat, and tears that go into a book cover. While creating a cover that will entice bookstore browsers to pick up the book and convey its essence (in a glance) is more of an art than a science, examining the many permutations of the cover of my book Monuments illuminates the journey that occurs before a book begins its public, published life. Like memorials encountered in the landscape, a cover design can take years to gestate, weathering conflicting opinions about how it should look and whom and what it should address, ever vulnerable to budget and construction considerations. Whether a book or a monument, the final product is ultimately a story of the journey—circuitous, strenuous, serendipitous, and often untold—that brought it into being.

To read more, click here.

Visionary Cities

Architects have long envisioned the ideal world. In an effort to combat dysfunctional cities, they have proposed numerous remedies over the years. The unbuilt dreams of these visionary architects have had an impact on the way we perceive what has been built, and, in some instances, what will be built.  A recent example is Light Park, a floating skyscraper proposed for Beijing, that was conceived by Chinese designers Ting Xu and Yiming Chen. A winner in the eVolo 2013 Skyscraper Competition, Light Park is lifted by a large helium balloon on top and solar-powered propellers directly below. Water collectors provide occupants with filtered rainwater.

Skyscrapers Book Give-away!

Win a copy! To celebrate the new edition of Skyscrapers, we are giving away 4 signed copies of the book! A winner will be picked every Monday for the next month. To enter, follow me on Twitter (@JudithDupre).

Odds wise, your best chance is this week! Enter now!

Better Stick to Spray Paint, Banksy

Banksy’s recent OpEd effort, which skewered One World Trade Center’s design, falls far short of the mark. In fact, the city’s newest skyscraper does what it was designed to do, pretty much perfectly. A game-changer of a building, as strong as a fortress, One WTC has established new and innovative skyscraper safety standards, which are being adopted around the globe. 

It has an agenda beyond mere dazzle. Sheathed in glass to catch the nuance of every passing cloud, the crystalline tower may appear delicate, perhaps even vulnerable, but it is not. Its spine is a “super concrete” core, stronger than steel, with walls up to six feet thick that extend from below ground to the tower’s top.

One WTC’s audacity, like that of any good New Yorker, is largely invisible to the eye. Its design anticipates a dark spectrum of worst-case scenarios and incorporates life-safety systems that exceed New York City code requirements, including enhanced communications, dense fireproofing, biological and chemical air filters, areas of refuge on each floor, optimal firefighting access, and numerous structural redundancies.

The skyscraper was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, a firm that has designed six of the fourteen tallest buildings in the world and has been active at the World Trade Center site since it was a gleam in David Rockefeller’s eye sixty years ago.  Lead Architect David Childs envisioned One WTC with a square base, echoing the bases of the original twin towers, that evolves as it rises into an eight-sided obelisk, the obelisk being one of the most ancient of memorial forms.

As with any great enterprise, the skyscraper’s design and funding were contested, sometimes bitterly, before being resolved. Childs’s initial design was revised after terrorism experts questioned its susceptibility. The building was moved further back from West Street to thwart penetration and, after still more revisions, its twenty-story-high bomb-resistant base was sheathed in a textured glass, aluminum, and steel screen. Unfortunately, the elegant radome at the top was reconfigured in the name of economic exigency. However, all of these lengthy battles provided the psychological means, critical to the commemorative and rebuilding process, of resolving the losses suffered at the site.

This is a practical beauty. A LEED Gold-certified supertower, One WTC’s design minimizes waste and pollution and incorporates strategies for water and energy conservation. It reclaims 100% of rainwater, uses 20% less energy than required by code, and incorporates glass that maximizes the use of natural light and minimizes heat gain. Each of these glass panels span the full 13’-4” floor-to-floor height with no intermediate mullion, a first in skyscraper construction.

Last week, the first part of Santiago Calatrava’s WTC Transit Hub opened, a stunning, 600-foot marble concourse that, well, dazzles. Once the tower’s observatory opens, millions of visitors a year will be whisked from the street to a three-level attraction more than 1,230 feet up in the clouds. The beacon on top will shine for twenty-six miles.

One WTC has grandeur enough to join the city’s storied skyline as well as the grace to allow the memorial at its feet to take center stage.  Above all, One WTC has and will continue to teach other skyscrapers how to stand tall, protecting its occupants and welcoming people from all over the globe.

Banksy, better stick to spray paint.

Supertall, Supergreen

Join us! Architect Adrian Smith, designer of the Burj Khalifa and many other environmentally responsible buildings, and I will discuss green skyscrapers on January 15 at the New York Public Library, Main Branch. Click Supertall, Supergreen for event details.  Hope to see you!

Like Having Your Own

Probably my favorite comment about Skyscrapers is this—”It’s like having my own skyscraper!”  It’s true, prop that baby up on a table and you’ve got your own mini Burj Khalifa. (See photo for easy directions on building your own.) And, no matter what they say about ebooks’ taking over, holding a real book in your hands remains a uniquely human gesture.

ESB’s Halloween Lights

Wow! The Empire State Building’s new LED lights debuted on Halloween night. Marc Brickman, the ESB’s lighting designer, says the show was created using 15,000 channels of LED lighting. Spanning from the 72 floor to the top of the antenna mast, the colored lights danced along to this song mix: This Is Halloween, Ghostbusters, Monster Mash, Halloween, and Somebody’s Watching Me.