NY, pt 8 (the Flatiron)

15 May 2010

The Flatiron was not the first skyscraper in New York, nor was it the tallest when it was finished in 1902.  But everyone cuts it some slack, because it was the first that wasn’t hit with an ugly stick. New Yorkers would hold wagers on how far you could find pieces of it when it would finally fall over. They had problems hiring staff for the offices inside, as most people were dead afraid of dying on a weekday.

I like it a lot, as the triangular shape makes it impossible to see more than one side at the same time. It makes you feel as your watching a post-card, it has a wonderful insubstantial feeling. You could probably also see it as the sails of a huge ship, and you wouldn’t be wrong. For me, it’s neck to neck with the Guggenheim. But true genius defies comparison anyway, so why bother?

Opinions on skyscrapers are divided. I think the argument that it’s economical in places where real-estate values are sky-high, doesn’t hold any water. There are only a couple of cities where there is absolutely no place left to build anymore (Barcelona, Sao Paolo), in most places there is just a concentration of these building in a small centre, surround by at most 8 stories as far as the eye can reach. I like Berlin because of it’s low profile, and everyone here hates Potsdamer Platz with a passion. The only reason I can imagine you would like to build skyscapes, is to win ground space to build parks. And to have an excuse for 300 meter high public rail.