New Directions in Architecture

November 28, 1973

Report Outline
Changing Profile of World's Big Cities
Technological Base of Modern Trends
Lively Confusion of New Architecture
Special Focus

Changing Profile of World's Big Cities

Social Controversies Over High-Rise Trends

Around the world the new architecture, which is transforming the skyline of every major city, is causing an unprecedented degree of social, aesthetic and even political controversy. In Paris, the chestnut trees cannot mask the dark 577-foot monolith that now looms behind the Arch of Triumph In London, office buildings such as the new Stock Exchange and the 599-foot Westminster Bank tower resemble giant weeds sprouting on what used to be a well-kept urban turf. And in New York, the World Trade Center's twin towers rise to 1,353 feet to dominate the lower Manhattan skyline.

Minoru Yamasaki, architect of the Trade Center, where ultimately 50,000 persons will work, claims that he was searching for a quality of “humanism” in his design that would stimulate a climate of rapport with man. Despite the remarkable engineering feats that are involved, critics generally agree that the new office buildings have been designed with an eye to maximizing rentable floor space and minimizing costs. Aesthetic and social considerations have been secondary.

A consideration that may no longer be secondary arises from the approaching energy crisis. “Buildings were designed to minimize capital costs, and nobody counted the kilowatts needed to heat, cool and light them,” Business Week noted recently.Ada Louise Huxtable, architecture critic for The New York Times, observed that architecture is surpassed only by transportation as the nation's biggest user of energy. Arguing that much of it is wasted, she pointed to the proliferation of glass-enclosed buildings with windows that cannot be opened to receive a cooling breeze.

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