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Three Architects Deconstruct ‘Jenga’

How much does ‘Jenga’ resemble actual skyscraper construction? We asked the experts.

I thought a lot about Herzog & de Meuron’s “Jenga Building” in lower Manhattan while writing about the World Trade Center. I admire the audacity of their 56 Leonard Street building, which forces you to consider the nuts and bolts of skyscraper construction. That deconstructed design, however, like similar others proposed earlier for the WTC in December, 2002, wouldn’t have been able to fulfill the complex aesthetic, security and political demands (for starters) that One World Trade Center had to meet then and over the long term.

But I couldn’t resist taking part in this fun interview with the clever Brian VanHooker for MEL Magazine! Here’s his opening:

People love to say that stuff is like Jenga. Life is like Jenga, the economy is like Jenga. Recently, world-renowned pizza chef Chris Bianco told me that pizza is like Jenga. Now, far be it from me to disagree with a James-Beard-Award-winning chef, but not everything is like Jenga. However, there is one thing that is most certainly like Jenga, and that is the act of constructing buildings. In fact, the word “Jenga” derives from the Swahili word “kujenga,” which means “to build.”



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