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How Does One Go About Making a Megatower Beautiful?

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Over at Daily Intel, Justin Davidson is contemplating whether or not it's possible to create a megatower that actually enhances the skyline. "The architectural challenge of supertall buildings, he writes, "is to accommodate humans in structures of inhuman scale [...] Like it or not, the elongated condo is an ever more assertive category of New York architecture, and it too can function as a form of public art." The only three that meet this standard, by his estimation, are Jeanne Gang's Aqua Tower in Chicago and, in New York, SHoP's planned 111 West 57th Street and Herzog & de Meuron's under-construction 56 Leonard.

As for the others (and there are, or will be, a lot, as you can see in a pair of 2023 skyline renderings just published on YIMBY), most fall short. "We're caught between flamboyantly theatrical towers and those that fetishize simplicity — between the diva and the nerd," Davidson writes. He's particularly harsh, as ever, on One57 and its glassy ilk, writing, "[T]he glass wall maligns traditional windows, which provide both openings and shelter. You can't appreciate a vista with your shins, or see much through the glass above your head. The layouts of these crystalline crows' nests afford nowhere to retreat from contact with the sky. They offer the thrill of simulated exposure. No wonder the owners maintain a selection of cozier homes."
· Who Wants a Supertall Skyline? The Emerging Aesthetic of the 1,000-Foot Tower [Daily Intel]
· Future View: Manhattan Skyline, 2023 [YIMBY]