Chapter Twelve

High Rise Buildings

Of all building types, the high rise is the most spectacular and the most disconcerting. High rise buildings are particularly, but not exclusively, associated with cities and would exemplify G.K. Chesterton’s view of the modern city as ‘anarchic and surging with selfish and materialistic energies’. The New York skyscrapers were referred to by Henry James as ‘expensively provisional’, but, built with the future of the city in mind or not, the high rise building nevertheless seems to carry a message about the future. Although their effect on the urban fabric is drastic, their vast and sometimes threatening scale is, in its origins, only a reflection of economic progress and the shortage of space within cities. ...

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