The Skyscraper and public space: an uneasy history and the capacity for radical reinvention

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Abstract

The focus of this essay is on contemporary commercial skyscrapers in New York and London and an unease with efforts to incorporate public space within their confines. Irrespective of the physical location of these public areas, be they external to the buildings themselves yet surrounded by private towers, within the physical boundary of the building or indeed as publicly accessible spaces and structures within a complex of buildings, the results are invariably homogenous, highly regulated, privately owned public spaces with, at times paradoxically, limited public access. This essay opens with an historical overview of the genesis of the “open-space” skyscraper as a manifestation of early-American colonialism, followed by selected contemporary examples and, lastly, an open ended set of solutions relating to the potential of skyscraper as an urbo-architectural type to transcend the issue of public-space-as-externality and provide space and experience which are “truly” public, yet within the confines of the tower.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCompanion to Public Space
EditorsVikas Mehta, Danilo Palazzo
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter24
Number of pages11
EditionFirst
ISBN (Electronic)9781351002189
ISBN (Print)9781138549722
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

Keywords

  • vertical urbanism
  • skyscrapers
  • supertall

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