Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Corporate, Tower, Contrasting

30 St Mary Axe Tower, the Swiss Re insurance company, located in London, reflects globalization's influence on city to city competition and globalization.  In this particular example, London's mayor emphasized creating world class aesthetics, hiring global "starchitects" to create architecture that would reinforce London as being global.  "In the linkage of global city status with spectacular tall buildings, high-quality design was repeatedly stressed to make such developments acceptable and appreciable." (Charney, 196).  The methods and strategies of realizing such architecture relied heavily on promoting economic benefits, social opportunities, and showing the city as "growing," which began to outweigh Europeans' concerns with such buildings impacts on the city and surrounding skyline.

For architects, however, not only should the architecture engage a discussion with the city itself, but to what extent does the architecture realize the mission and intent of its builders? To what degree is its message of global status communicated?  To what extent does the Swiss Re Tower represent London, or does it merely represent a singular actor in a global city?

This battle between high rise tower and historic urban core is occurring throughout many places of the world.  Building tall, however, does not guarantee the success of such architecture nor reinforce intended messages.  Kuala Lumpur Towers, are one such example, of architecture that failed to equate the city with global status.  The CCTV tower, by Rem Koolhaas, exemplifies attempts to break from the embedded messages of the skyscraper typology.

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