Hot Trend in Architecture: The Appearance of Instability

Witold Rybczynski takes a look at the new tendency toward buildings that look collapsible, rather than the solid-looking buildings of the past. Is this trend a symptom of our shaky times?

"Buildings once strove for solidity-not merely to be stable but also to look stable, hence the optical corrections in ancient Greek architecture such as entasis, a subtle tapering of columns that makes them appear more settled to the human eye. Even the Empire State Building tapers as it rises, as if to assure us that the tall structure will not tip over. Not anymore. The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York resembles a stack of elegant shoe boxes that have casually shifted this way and that. Of course, the "boxes" are make-believe. Buried inside Tokyo-based SANAA's mannered composition is a conventional steel frame with added diagonal struts and transfer beams to support the desired cantilevers. Nevertheless, the building has met with so much acclaim that the architects have designed a slightly tamer 25-story version-Torre Neruda-for Guadalajara, Mexico."

Thanks to Franny Ritchie

Full Story: The Jenga Effect: A new vogue for tottering towers.

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