Winners have been announced in the 2016 eVolo magazine skyscraper design competition, and they are real doozies. eVolo, which I’d never heard of, exists to discuss “the most avant-garde ideas generated in schools and professional studios around the world,” and the competition certainly does tend to push those goals forward. We chuckle at the result, but be careful. This is where architecture is headed if an adult is not put in charge immediately.
The winning entry, by architects Yitan Sun and Jianshi Wu of the United States, would build a “horizontal skyscraper” reaching around and 1,000 feet down all four sides of a newly sunken Central Park, with the park itself dug out and replaced with what looks like a paradise for people interested in rock climbing, supposedly a mountain once entombed beneath its famously beautiful Olmstedian terrain. Beauty’s so old-hat!
The ambition is to reverse the traditional relationship between landscape and architecture, in a way that every occupiable space has a direct connection to nature. The 1,000-foot tall, 100-feet deep mega structure provides a total floor area of 7 square miles, which is about 80 times greater than the Empire State Building.
This will raise the hairs on the back of Froma Harrop’s neck! Silkstocking.nyc call your office! Just as the proposed supertall superthin skyscraper proposed for Sutton Place is bringing its neighbors together in opposition, perhaps this proposal to wall off Central Park will finally unite foes in the longstanding rivalry between the East Side and the West Side.
The second-place winner’s proposed tower, off the southeastern corner of Central Park, is called The Hive, a drone skyscraper, a sort of airport for the gathering future of product delivery. The others are equally absurd, indeed obtuse, and yet equally in sync with the direction modernism is taking us. Each time a modernist architect hatches an even more unique design for his building is a challenge to the architectural community to come up with something even wackier.
Don’t laugh. When I say this is the future, a chuckle will not cut it. Indeed, a defense of the winner just ran in Fast Company/Co-Exist, “This Insane Skyscraper Should Not Be Built in Central Park – But It Should Exist.” (“Might be a step too far,” writes Ben Schiller.) In all seriousness! He adds: “‘In the heart of New York City, a New Horizon is born,’ say the designers, forgoing to mention how it would tear apart the very center of Manhattan.” So when I say architecture is heading in this direction, and fast, I am not just whistling Dixie.
(Hats, including horizontal stovepipes, off to Kristen Richards for running this wackadoodle on her marvelous ArchNewsNow.com website!)