Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

NewTowner

Skyscrapers

Recommended Posts

James Howard Kunstler, famed architecture and urban design critic, and author of the "The Geography of Nowhere" and "The City in Mind," has selected Louisville's proposed Museum "Plaza" Alien Extraction Project as his Eyesore of the Month, "Architectural Blunders in Monthly Serial":

http://www.kunstler.com/eyesore.html

Here is yet ANOTHER globally-respected architectural mind ridiculing Koolhaus' intentional disregard for the public realm--his clear and well-established contempt for the intimate, the human-scaled, the beautiful, and the sustainable.

It may be wise to give pause, and consider Kunstler's criticisms as we in Nashville continue our foray into a large round of fresh high-rise construction. Clearly, the Signature Tower is less the product of a sado-masochistic culture than is the Museum "Plaza"--but regardless, should we really be constructing buildings which are unusable without vast amounts of cheap energy to power elevators, heating and cooling systems, water systems, etc.? I mean, you can't use the stairs to get to a 34th floor apartment, can you?

And how many of you good folks have been to places like Paris, Charleston SC, Dresden, and Bruges (Brugge), where a vast majority of the urban fabric is human-scaled? Is living in urban neighborhoods like these not in some ways preferable to life in the canyonized shadow of distant mega-structures?

Look, we all love the Chrysler Building. But I just wanted to know what you guys think about all this, in the context of the Museum "Plaza" getting its pompous ass handed to it (again) by such a well-known architecture critic and author.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


i say build the signature. we've got the tva to take care of us. :P i do see what you're saying though. those cities that you mentioned are a tad bit different than nashville however. those are old cities that had that infrastructure in place. people are used to living like that there. here however is a different story. this is the land of the subdivision. a project like signature will make people actually notice that "hey, i could actually live downtown". lofts and smaller urban neighborhoods simply will not get the same recognition that a tower like signature will get. we need something to catch the eye of the public to let them know that you can actually live in downtown nashville.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It may be wise to give pause, and consider Kunstler's criticisms as we in Nashville continue our foray into a large round of fresh high-rise construction. Clearly, the Signature Tower is less the product of a sado-masochistic culture than is the Museum "Plaza"--but regardless, should we really be constructing buildings which are unusable without vast amounts of cheap energy to power elevators, heating and cooling systems, water systems, etc.? I mean, you can't use the stairs to get to a 34th floor apartment, can you?

Well designed skyscrapers are more efficient as far as energy use and other utilities than an equal number of housing units that would have the same number of square footage. In addition to that skyscrapers bring up the scale of density in cities which brings down the per capita cost of roads and other infrastructure that would otherwise be spread out over long distances. Therefore as long as a skyscraper is sensibly designed I see them as a much better alternative to sprawl.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well designed skyscrapers are more efficient as far as energy use and other utilities than an equal number of housing units that would have the same number of square footage. In addition to that skyscrapers bring up the scale of density in cities which brings down the per capita cost of roads and other infrastructure that would otherwise be spread out over long distances. Therefore as long as a skyscraper is sensibly designed I see them as a much better alternative to sprawl.

Well put and on target.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well designed skyscrapers are more efficient as far as energy use and other utilities than an equal number of housing units that would have the same number of square footage. In addition to that skyscrapers bring up the scale of density in cities which brings down the per capita cost of roads and other infrastructure that would otherwise be spread out over long distances. Therefore as long as a skyscraper is sensibly designed I see them as a much better alternative to sprawl.

How are elevators more efficient than stairs? It is impossible to use your feet if your home is on the 34th floor of a high-rise.

How on earth could heating and cooling the top forty stories of a fifty-story building be more energy-efficient than heating five earth-cuddling ten story buildings?

And finally...how can the massive water pumps needed to keep the toilets pleasant on the 40th floor be more efficient than the use of good old-fashioned water-tower pressure in, say, a seven story building?

And by the way, I am talking dense urban fabric, AKA Paris, not "housing units," AKA suburban Las Vegas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Heating a 50 story building is MUCH more efficient than a short-rise. Heat rises. In a high-rise building it is known as "the stack effect". Thats why when you open the lobby doors to a skyscraper air rushes in with you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

~How are elevators more efficient than stairs? It is impossible to use your feet if your home is on the 34th floor of a high-rise.

-On this point you are correct but you have to take into account the entire energy picture. Elevators are a very small part of the energy usage of a skyscraper. Heating and cooling the building and major appliances are where the lions share of the energy goes to in any building. The appliances in this situation are somewhat negligible because they will be the same for the most part in any building. However things like heating water can be made much more efficient in a skyscraper through economies of scale (heating all the water in one central location) rather than having scattered water heaters all throughout the buildings.

~How on earth could heating and cooling the top forty stories of a fifty-story building be more energy-efficient than heating five earth-cuddling ten story buildings?

-Tall buildings have much less exposed exterior surface per square foot of interior space than smaller buildings do, and that means they present relatively less of themselves to the elements, and their small roofs absorb less heat from the sun during cooling season and radiate less heat from inside during heating season.

To back this up with fact, New York City (by far the city with the most skyscrapers in America) is the most energy efficient city of consequential size in the Unites States.

~And finally...how can the massive water pumps needed to keep the toilets pleasant on the 40th floor be more efficient than the use of good old-fashioned water-tower pressure in, say, a seven story building?

-The pumps are needed regardless. How else does the water get up into the water tower? Some skyscrapers also employ the same logic as a water tower by pumping the water up to the upper floors of the building and storing it there for use later. The storage container for the water can also be designed to act as a damper to lesson the sway of the building in high winds. Once again the key is smart design for the skyscrapers.

~And by the way, I am talking dense urban fabric, AKA Paris, not "housing units," AKA suburban Las Vegas.

-I was talking more along the lines of urban sprawl (which by the way modern day Paris is full of) but my points still stand up when comparing a skyscraper dominated city to that of a medium density city like central Paris; the difference is just smaller.

I study Urban Planning in school and all of these statements aren't going out on limbs they are all proven by studies and taught across the country/world.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To some degree it really does not matter which typology of building you end up building, if design it correctly then it should be energy efficient. More and more owners are demanding their building be more energy efficient particularly if they will own them instead of "flipping" them. It is a positive to the bottom line and great selling point. Also the footprint has a lot to do with energy efficiency since narrower buildings can be daylight easier and be more pleasant places to live.

A city full of skyscrapers that have the relationship of the L&C and the Viridian create the need for additional resources because it is more difficult to daylight. This is one reason Vancouver requires minimum distances between towers. I pity the souls that have to live in the dark crevice between the two buildings. You may be able to argue some insulation, but I doubt it since they do not share a common wall.

What I do disagree with is that skyscrapers are a good typology for creating successful mixed-use neighborhoods. Besides Vancouver which have strict guidelines high-rises. Vancouver Design Guidelines Vancouver Section about High-Rise

For any modern day urban planner, proper pedestrian-scale, creation of

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Before you guys take the leap that NYC represents the ultimate in city design I suggest that you travel to Tokyo and have a look at what is going on there. First Japan is very energy starved having no natural sources of energy. Second, developable land is at a very high premium given that land also has to be used to grow food. As a result they have a population density in some neighborhoods that even NYC doesn't approach and it is far denser over a much larger area as well.

So did they decide to put people in highrises (say above 25 stories)? No.

The vast majority of urban Japanese live in buildings that are less than 15 stories high (like mentioned in the original post in this thread) and instead they decided to build neighborhoods based on mass transit and walkability. Most American cities waste up to 60% of their land area to uses devoted to the automobile which forces the need to build skyscrapers in order to achieve the densities that Japan manages with much shorter buildings. NYC is no exception to this as the city is clogged with cars, places to park cars freeways tunnels and bridges all devoted to the automobile. Contrast that to Tokyo where there are vast neighborhoods where it isn't possible to drive a car and almost no apartment building includes a place to park.

Skyscrapers are not more efficient once you get beyond a certain height because there is a quick diminishing economy of scale because of wasted space for elevators, utility vaults and structual elements needed to support the upper floors. Overcoming gravity for almost everything becomes a major energy user once you get to the taller buildings.

I've been to Tokyo, DC (also limits building heights), London, Manhatten, and Chicago, I have to say that I much more enjoy the cities that are more human in scale, the first three, than ones that are full of monumental towers, the last two.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The economics issue is a huge one, and one that has to be addressed. Only in Hollywood can you 'build it, and they will come.' Felt that was appropriate given Oscar night. There is only a certain amount of demand for urban living. Granted, units may be selling like hotcakes now, but when does the reserve dry up? To me, the desire to build big in the case of the Signature tower is based on greed, and probably something like Museum Plaza in wanting this to be a monument to oneself. There are a certain number of units out there that will be bought, and it seems the developer in this case is trying to maximize their profits and take as much of the demand as possible. If those units were spread over a greater area you do get the greater overall impact for the city/ neighborhood as a whole.

One item I've been thinking of lately concerns the high-rise model and mass transit. Bzorch is right, in my opinion as well, that 5 buildings matching what Signature tower is proposing is far better. We all seem to be proponents/ advocates of light rail (or at least a more efficient form of mass transit than we currently have).

The high rises do help raise density, but they create kind of a hyper-density. I've kind of been equating it to pin-point density, a lot of people in one relatively small geographic area. If that density were spread out a little more along any of the major corridors, then light rail becomes possible. Put all of those people downtown in an area that is already walkable and you're not getting density spread out that would warrant a mass transit system. I'm not advocating for sprawl by any means, just spread the wealth a little bit.

Thanks for your post Metro. It's something we've been arguing for the SoBro area. When you look at the areas that are considered great neighborhoods, they are typically mid-rise or lower. It's been said previously "Nashville will never be Paris or Barcelona," but why not try. Everyone comes back from visiting these places and are typically awestruck. Why just visit these places, why not push for our areas to become what those areas are and live in them. Many times I think we've come a long way as a city, but when we look at these other examples for inspiration and then turn our backs on how those areas develop, that's where I feel we've taken steps back. Great neighborhoods and cities exist and should used as a model, don't copy, but understand what makes those areas great. Usually, that always comes to the built environment that's human-scaled.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While spreading 600 units over 5 building might sound like a good idea in theory in practice you are probably just going to end up with fewer downtown residents. Listen to what Tony G. says about how and why he develops his properties. His company performs market research with existing and potential stakeholders before designing these buildings. He and his financial partners want hard numbers and actual demand before they are going to risk enormous amounts of capital. It is the market that designs the Signature Tower to a large extent. The people that are going to move in to the tower are not going to move into The Westview, Werthan Loft, Kress, Ambrose, Icon or even Adelicia. They want to live in the core, they want hotel amenities, they want hi-rise living. But they have also told Tony that they want retail and pedestrian friendly features to make

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am a fan of mid-rise buildings and prefer to live in a more intimate setting so that is why I chose my unit in an 8-story structure. But not everyone is like me and thus I can not dictate to developers to only build mid-rise structures. It seems to me that the market will sort it all out.

LOL!! But it sits on a hill, so you feel like you are higher up. I'm sorry, just had to be a smart arse there. hehe

Carry on.........

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.