About Tallness


A tall building is not defined by its height or number of stories. The important criterion is whether or not the design is influenced by some aspect of “tallness.” It is a building in which tallness strongly influences planning, design, construction, and use.

Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

“Tallness” will be the starting point for our architecture studio this fall. We will explore how this notion of “tallness” influences an architecture’s programmatic and formal articulations.  Strong emphasis will be placed on the development of the building’s skin, the programming of the semi-public spaces for the residents, and the articulation of public space around the base of the tower. Get ready to produce lots of digital and physical models. Just saying.

The project calls for some theorizing about the role of tall buildings within the cityscape.  We begin by considering the building in its urban context: the local context of New York City and also the global context of the contemporary residential tower. Our analysis continues with an inquiry into how new trends in urban dwelling necessitate new programatic approaches towards the urban tower, particularly as programmed amenities play a semi-public role. We ask: How is building’s role as housing reconciled with its place in the cityscape and the citywide context of NYC real estate? How do contemporary technologies make possible new symbiotic relationships between architecture and structure? Is the residential tower a totemic object in the city?

We will also touch on current thinking regarding “transhumanism”—beyond its sci-fi context, what new notions of dwelling can be put to productive use when thinking about residential architecture?

Two first readings: Matthew Soules, “Constant Object,” in Log 40, Spring/Summer 2017, and Caroline O’Donnell, “Gibson, Giraffes, and Gibbons,” in Log 8, Summer 2006.

[photograph © Maria Sieira 2017]

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