Shelves: architecture This was a wonderful book. Full of great ideas, telling wonderful stories, giving great descriptions. But what was it about? After I read it a dozen more times, I might be able to tell you.
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Shelves: architecture This was a wonderful book. Full of great ideas, telling wonderful stories, giving great descriptions. But what was it about? After I read it a dozen more times, I might be able to tell you. Some clues: It is about Manhattanism. Two constrictions define Manhattan. The grid map of , This was a wonderful book. It was purely man over nature. The second constriction was the Zoning Law, which prescribed how high a building could be in relation to its footprint.
It was created in response to the realization that buildings produce shadows and that people seek to have access to light and air. The book describes several architectural responses to these constrictions. The writing is very droll and clever.
The first response was Coney Island, a testing ground for how to bring nature back to the city. The inhabitants of Manhattan instantly discovered that they missed nature and wanted to recreate it. The contemporary Coney Island is a pale shadow of the previous Coney Island.
The second project described is the first Waldorf-Astoria hotel, its geographic replacement - The Empire State building, and its recreation, the current Waldorf-Astoria hotel. The story of the construction of the Empire State Building justifies reading the entire book. A third project is the Downtown Athletic Club. But even if only a dream, it would be considered too unreal to exist. A fourth project is the Rockefeller Center.
Bigger, bigger, bigger. Unconstrained by budget, designed by committee. How could it be so good? Find out here. Less entertaining were the visits by Dali and Le Corbusier and their attempts to "save" Manhattan.
I must admit this part of the book held less fascination for me. Le Corbusier diagnosed the skyscrapers as being too small and thought the city should have a much bigger scale. What interested me most though was the story of the evolution of the skyscraper. It was enabled by the elevator. This enabled a theoretically infinite duplication of a footprint. My favorite description in the book is the skyscraper as an extrusion. Every floor exactly as the previous floor. But soon elevators dominated the building and skyscrapers became pyramids with a core of elevators that decreased in area as they ascended.
The offices and apartments simply encased the elevators. But when air conditioning became a possibility recreating nature within the building , they no longer needed to be external pyramids. They could again become perfect extrusions. Within the confines of the Zoning law, they had to expand their footprint to gain more vertical space. Up, up, up. Not tall enough!
I am just as impressed as anyone.
Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan
The architect is as tall and slim as a palm-tree trunk, almost too slender; his shoulder blades press sharp against a navy-blue sweater. He is 70, with a reputation for brusqueness, but when he smiles, he looks like a child. Eventually, the moguls may know him. Silicon Valley is not known for its architecture or architecture lovers. Elsewhere, of course, Koolhaas is known. He may be the most important architect of his generation — the Pritzker Prize is the least of it — and a prominent urban theorist, too. Much of what he builds looks improbable.
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Koolhaas had been studying at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London since and wrote the manifesto as a reaction against lectures by Tony Dugdale of the architectural collective Archigram. During this period, Koolhaas further collaborated with Elia Zenghelis on several hypothetical projects in Manhattan, such as redeveloping Roosevelt Island  or the design for the Sphinx Hotel at Times Square . In a interview with architecture critic Cynthia Davidson, Koolhaas stated that the aim of publishing Delirious New York was to lay the written foundation to work from as an architect, before actually starting out as one. The gridiron street pattern of Manhattan is shown through the window, with the rooftops of skyscrapers being faces looking at the ordeal.
Rem Koolhaas Takes Silicon Valley