Message - Re: Future High Rise Design: More Concrete

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Posted by  d on September 19, 2002 at 09:37:08:

In Reply to:  Re: Future High Rise Design: More Concrete posted by Paul Malo on September 19, 2002 at 07:01:00:

But then- jumping unashamedly back to the opposite camp- is it possible that buildings are thrust into unexpected new roles, for which they were not designed; and that those new roles, being somewhat predictable, require anticipatory design?

Let's call it "regime design". This is an entire attitude which reflects the present age plus the next age of circumstances. It has in a way, built into it, the typical divergence of realities attendant upon any changing era.

An example might be the Titanic.
The ship was planned and built during a period of secret experinmentation for the coming era of naval battles using torpedoes; therefore the ship was built with a series of longitudinal waterline /waterproof compartments, the destruction of any of which would not compromise the adjacent areas.
The "unsinkability" of the Titanic was, therefore, directly tied
from its inception, to the likelihood of perpendicular attack.
But let us say (I don't know this) that the ship sailed north to test evasive theories for the coming war. The result was fatal damage, from a completely disregarded circumstance: longitudinal damage by a glancing blow, which severed many adjacent compartments.

Turning to the Trade Center, we can see that, in the more cynical view, it may have come into being to test a theory of seismic resilience in tall sructures, for the approaching Asian economic boom.
Thus, the towers were designed with purposeful lightweight connections, so as to test an active damping system.
Some might resist this suspicion, as being horribly cynical; but I
would point out that Yamasaki was given the challenge only of achieving a cetain amount of office space. He could eaily have designed a single, highly rigid rectanglar tower, like the UN, to that objective.
In the end, Like the Titanic, the Trade Towers fell victim to unanticipated forces, some of them political, coming from unexpected directions.
In both cases (and here is my larger point) the design of a large project was aimed at solutions to resisting rectilinear forces:

Titanic- designed against perpendicular punctures
WTC-designed against vertical gravity and against horizontal wind force

In neither case, are there any signs that the use of reinforcing diagonal structures were contemplated.

So (partly in Per's defense) I wonder if thee is not a aesthetic bias against the appearance of diagonality in heroic architecture?
At a metaphysical level (the level at which very large projects could be said to take place) the is perhaps a tendency to focus effort at the elemental perpendicular forces on earth: gravity, and wind.
The aesthete feels that these are most esthetically dealt with by suppleness, flexibility, and equilibration.
Any other forces are thought secondary- the province of lesser mentalities.
In Europe, half-timbered buildings are thought quaint; progress involves hiding the diagonal framework.
But those secondary forces are precisely the ones addressed by diagonal structure, which adds rigidity and compensates for unknown, future stresses coming from the next era, the next regime.

This is why for me, the most interesting modern building in the
world is the Eiffel tower.
Notice that the Eiffel tower exhibits, indeed flaunts, a surfeit of diagonality.

In fact, I would argue that this was, and is, its function.

It symbolises, first of all, the importance of symbolism!
Secondly , it shows the resistance to gravity of its structure.
Thirdly, it demonstrates the resistance to wind.
Fourthly, and most importantly, it shows resistance to
political forces, by converting the "unaesthetic" diagonal frame
to high art; and this art is in plain view for all, whether
aesthete or proletarian, to judge,

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