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  #1  
Old Posted Apr 8, 2007, 4:38 PM
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Public perception of towers

This is just something that’s been on my mind over the past few days.

Ever since I was a kid I’ve had a fascination with tall buildings. I used to have a few books on them, one showing how the John Hancock Centre worked, I used to build the tallest tower I could from legos, etc. Whenever I hear of a new proposal in town I wish for something tall, slender and graceful and I always prefer something like this rather than a bulky, stumpy groundscraper.

Thing is, the general public thinks in the entirely opposite way. For example, here in my home town we have a new 18-storey building under construction which will be the tallest in the city. Every time I’m in someone’s car and we pass it, or else just walk past it the person I’m with makes a comment. Not even once has it been positive. This also applied to many world landmarks that we all love. Take the gherkin, most people here would consider it a major London landmark and a great piece of architecture but your average joe (well, at least the people I’ve talked to anyway) will say “why in the name of god did they build that egg there?”. In fact what they complain about usually isn’t the design, or the quality of the materials, or the shape, or the effect at street level, but the HEIGHT and height alone in most cases.

I want to find out why height is such a bad thing for the average joe. Their ideal urban landscape is usually something like this:




Various reasons I can come up with for why a lowrise city might be preferred to a highrise one are (I don’t necessarily agree with them):
Towers block out light
Towers are “out of touch” with the human scale and so are perceived as cold and inhuman whereas lowrises are more “cosy”
Taller towers = more people on the street = overcrowding and noise
Towers are a source of crime

I’ve always thought that architecture is not the same as art where any experimentation can be done and might be only appreciated by a select few but still be considered good. The reason is, if you display a urinal as a piece of art then people come to the museum and if they don’t like it they can leave. However if you design a building, especially a tall one in the shape of a urinal they’ll be forced to look at your monstrosity every day for years. IMO the architect should try and make both an energy efficient building, well designed, high quality, etc but also try and please the general public.
With this in mind is there any way this height = bad thing can be eliminated?



I don’t know if I’m being clear at all but if you don’t want to read through all this bullshit the basic question is “Why do most people hate skyscrapers?”
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  #2  
Old Posted Apr 8, 2007, 7:03 PM
adam-machiavelli adam-machiavelli is offline
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I think there's a variety of opinions on it. Not everyone thinks one way or another. But we discussed this in my urban geography lecture last year. One theorist talks about the privatization of the space above us and how once it's gone it's hard to get it back. Plus, Amsterdam is a architecturally unique city, so there's a reason to preserve its original character.
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  #3  
Old Posted Apr 8, 2007, 7:35 PM
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In fact what they complain about usually isn’t the design, or the quality of the materials, or the shape, or the effect at street level, but the HEIGHT and height alone in most cases.

I want to find out why height is such a bad thing for the average joe. Their ideal urban landscape is usually something like this:

Various reasons I can come up with for why a lowrise city might be preferred to a highrise one are (I don’t necessarily agree with them):
Towers block out light
Towers are “out of touch” with the human scale and so are perceived as cold and inhuman whereas lowrises are more “cosy”
Taller towers = more people on the street = overcrowding and noise
Towers are a source of crime

With this in mind is there any way this height = bad thing can be eliminated?

I don’t know if I’m being clear at all but if you don’t want to read through all this bullshit the basic question is “Why do most people hate skyscrapers?”[/quote]

IMO, a lot of people are intimidated by tall skyscrapers, they feel insignificant. I know I feel that way when I look up at one. It reminds me that I have not lived up to my potential and have not used all of what God has given me, and that much unlike those skyscrapers that are loved the world over, as of yet, I am painfully reminded that I have not left a positive, lasting footprint on the world.

Last edited by SapphireBlueEyes; Apr 8, 2007 at 7:38 PM. Reason: spacing
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  #4  
Old Posted Apr 8, 2007, 7:49 PM
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^ You missed one of the biggest complaints:

Towers = Traffic

The correlation is that the higher the tower is, the greater the traffic it brings...
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  #5  
Old Posted Apr 8, 2007, 7:57 PM
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^^ Yes people think that.

Another thing people think is that all new skyscrapers are the same as 60s tower blocks
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  #6  
Old Posted Jun 24, 2007, 6:52 PM
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I think tall buildings get slammed by the public because of what is happening at groud level. The row of old brick townhomes probably have retail - especially restaurants and coffee houses on the first floor. Most high rise office and even residential buildings are set back with a hard not so public friendly plaza.
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  #7  
Old Posted Jun 24, 2007, 8:19 PM
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the problem with skyscrapers isn't their height but rather their presence at street level. most have stark facades with a pair of doors leading intto the lobby. one good example of an exception to this is the empire state building which has a CVS and a bank of america on ground floor which are accessible to the public without having to go through building's lobby. it blends in with far shorter buildings in the area.
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  #8  
Old Posted Jun 24, 2007, 11:37 PM
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I sort of have mixed feelings about a lot of these things.

I've often found them unique have look streight up whenever I'd pass by them, been to the top of the Sears Tower but I'm sure like everything else there's a downsize to them.

More traffic is about the only thing I can think and because of that I wonder if I ran a city I might of avoided building to many of them.

What I think id kind of stupid about them is here in Chicago from the looks of it we're gonna get a new world's talleast building and while I'm not totally against it considering we've had other world's talleast bulings, mostly NYC has had them up untill the Sears Tower was bulit, it's something how so many want to built the talleast in the world for the noteriety.

How far will they go?

Till they reach outer space?
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  #9  
Old Posted Jun 25, 2007, 12:16 AM
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Traffic is usually the BS reason people come up with. Screw cars...seriously, if everyone lived in the city they wouldn't need the damn things. The conversation goes,

"But, I can't afford to live in the city!"

If there were no suburbs and the inner city was denser, there'd be more dwellings there and the prices wouldn't be so high because an apartment/home there wouldn't be so rare and exclusive. The streets would be more vibrant, you'd be able to sustain better forms of public transit, and you wouldn't have the tax dollars serving huge wasteful suburban areas.

"I'm raising a family, I need space!"

Density doesn't equal everyone living in commie blocks (though I personally wouldn't mind that), and NO family needs 30 metre lawn frontage.

"You want us all squeezed into tower blocks like sardines? Communist!"

...

Anyway, people are uninformed.
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  #10  
Old Posted Jun 25, 2007, 12:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malec View Post
I want to find out why height is such a bad thing for the average joe. Their ideal urban landscape is usually something like this:

If only that were true...as far as I can tell from my personal conversations, the ideal neighbourhood for the average joe/jill is this:



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  #11  
Old Posted Jun 25, 2007, 2:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMancuso View Post
the problem with skyscrapers isn't their height but rather their presence at street level. most have stark facades with a pair of doors leading intto the lobby. one good example of an exception to this is the empire state building which has a CVS and a bank of america on ground floor which are accessible to the public without having to go through building's lobby. it blends in with far shorter buildings in the area.
Pretty much every skyscraper in NYC has retail on the ground floor. The problem is retail diversity. The new skyscrapers pretty much only have drug stores, starbucks, and banks as tenants, whereas the low-rise buildings they replace, as shabby as they are sometimes, contain mom and pop shops and restaurants.
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2007, 2:36 PM
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^That is the biggest problem with gentrification in older neighbourhoods. The lower-income stores and residences are replaced with the upper middle class. I would love it if cities looked like the first picture you showed malec, but I also love towers as well. Diversity is what I want out of my streetscape and glass frontages with another token chain Starbucks or bank doesn't really contribute to a lively atmosphere for me and certainly doesn't contribute to a healthy city for everyone to live in. In Canada where the solar envelop is a little more important than most countries during the winter I can see a bit of a knock against really tall buildings in some areas.

The whole traffic thing just makes me twitch every time I hear it.
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Old Posted Jul 25, 2007, 2:46 AM
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People might feel like it makes their neighborhood less like a neighborhood and more like a business district, and they want to retain the residential feel of it.

I think what sapphireblueeyes said is true, and the people might just not be articulating their thoughts right.
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Old Posted Jul 29, 2007, 11:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alps View Post



Completly off topic, but I love the colors of the roofs and driveways. As far as suburban neighborhoods go that one is OK in my opinion.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2007, 4:12 AM
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Most people aren't around tall buildings on a regular basis. Unless you're from a place where their existence is common one will regard them as foreign objects, abstractions. Even city dwellers tend not to place them in any special category - to them tall buildings just mean you're downtown. Unless they have some 'organic feature' where they're connected to the street, tall buildings generally offer the public little and anything people don't have interactions with people will tend to hold with some degree of cold regard. The Empire State Building, The Eiffel Tower - these are iconic tall structures that offer something to visitors and passersby. Nobody travels to the other side of the country to see...345 Park Avenue.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2007, 5:20 AM
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Most people aren't around tall buildings on a regular basis. Unless you're from a place where their existence is common one will regard them as foreign objects, abstractions. Even city dwellers tend not to place them in any special category - to them tall buildings just mean you're downtown. Unless they have some 'organic feature' where they're connected to the street, tall buildings generally offer the public little and anything people don't have interactions with people will tend to hold with some degree of cold regard. The Empire State Building, The Eiffel Tower - these are iconic tall structures that offer something to visitors and passersby. Nobody travels to the other side of the country to see...345 Park Avenue.
Although I do not live in NYC (but I did at one time live in Philly, VZ), I have been there many times, sometimes for work and sometimes family because my wife is from there. When I walk down the street in midtown, I do not even notice how tall the buildings are around me and I really don't know that most people would pay more than just a passing glance unless they've never been there before. What I do notice are foreboden plaza type entrances or long stretches of blank walls. Fortunately, there is not an unbearable amount of that in NYC.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2007, 5:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by volguus zildrohar View Post
Most people aren't around tall buildings on a regular basis. Unless you're from a place where their existence is common one will regard them as foreign objects, abstractions. Even city dwellers tend not to place them in any special category - to them tall buildings just mean you're downtown.
This would explain the lack of highrise nimbyism in countries such as Brazil, Russia and China, where a large percentage of people lives in highrise tower blocks rather than in sprawling suburbs, and are thus much more used to tall buildings.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2007, 6:55 PM
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^ You missed one of the biggest complaints:

Towers = Traffic

The correlation is that the higher the tower is, the greater the traffic it brings...
all of these lame excuses permeate all layers of brazilian society. But unlike other countries, these lame excuses are specially strong among brazilian URBANISTS and CITY ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS!!!!

thats why Brazil built its tallest building in the 60s and since then, height restrictions were imposed all over the country.


the result??? THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of highrises not taller than 30 floors, in the end, creating MUCH MORE SHADOW than fewer taller buildings. Also, they are sprawled over a much large area than would be in american cities, so the traffic is still there but its also sprawled, creating much more confusion (you dont have a more specific flow)
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2007, 6:57 PM
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This would explain the lack of highrise nimbyism in countries such as Brazil, Russia and China, where a large percentage of people lives in highrise tower blocks rather than in sprawling suburbs, and are thus much more used to tall buildings.
actually, brazilians at the same time love to live in highrises, but hate other highrises. And brazilians are not used to tall buildings, since there is NONE in Brazil (tallest is 170 meters).

brazilians are used to 70-110 meter tall buildings. Those we have in abundance.
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Old Posted Jul 30, 2007, 6:59 PM
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one city I like a lot is Frankfurt. It has the density of european cities, with those 3-4 storeys blocks everywhere. Then, rising from the midst of it, there are skyscrapers.
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