Editor’s Choice
2015 Skyscraper Competition

Margaret Rew, Taylor Hewett, Karilyn Johannesen
United States

The People of the City have too long been subjected to the free plan: FAR, $PSF, the corridor, and, by extension, the vertical instrumentality of the service core—the tropes of modernism must be questioned, for they are rich with opportunity. We declare war on the open planes of Modernism.

We have bodies, we take up space. We do not need floor space; we need volume. We do not need free plans; we need free sections.

Rising real estate costs and geographic as well as political barriers to city growth have put vertical pressure on the City. We can no longer tolerate a sub-urban attitude towards space—in our periphery or in our metropolis. The spatial strategy of the suburban ranch house becomes a shoebox in the gleaming high rise. We suggest an equivalent to the townhouse – a typology that has long defined the healthy Urban center. Such a typology embeds residential units in a fabric of public circulation and program. We propose a new spatial paradigm: A City designed for volume.

Along with this new paradigm come attitudes of inclusion and hybridity. We recognize the layered nature of identity in the global city, in which we are all both citizens and strangers. This age-old attribute of the cosmopolitan center has been redefined in the contemporary global city by the unyielding forces of capitalism. The real estate and tourism industries vie for territory at the expense of the public. The resultant architecture reinforces the opposition between these two identities and has yet to address growing trends that contradict distinctions between resident and tourist, permanence and transience, familiar and alien.

This proposal subverts the current model of elevator core dependency in the mixed-use skyscraper by leveraging light and air voids as pathways for gondola-style vertical circulation. This network becomes an armature for pockets of public space and privatized public program. In this new public territory, citizen-spaces and stranger-spaces mutually benefit from their adjacencies and overlaps. The proposed spatial strategy maximizes connectivity and hybridity—proposing that these places that a citizen-stranger lives, works, and plays in should be defined first and foremost by the tenacity of their volume.

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