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  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:34 am on October 23, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Arctic convoys of World War II, , Eugene Staune, , Howl's Moving Castle, , , , , Skyscraper, , Sutyagin's Moving Castle, ,   

    Sutyagin’s Moving Castle or Ruskyscraper 

    Slowly but steadily making my way through all of the Studio Ghibli films, I recently watched Howl’s Moving Castle. It made me remember the wooden skyscraper in Archangelsk I wrote about before.

    Apparently the skyscraper is still standing, although it looks like it has deteriorated significantly. I cleaned removed the old broken links from my old article about it and got permission from Nikolai Gernet aka nixette to use one of his photos. Archangelsk has a rich history of wooden architecture and nixette has more photos here and here as well as many other interesting pictures from Archangelsk and of Sutiagin’s wooden skyscraper in particular.

    It’s interesting to note that both Russia and Japan have a rich tradition of wooden architecture.

    Sutiagin's Wooden SkyscraperHowl's Moving Castle

    While looking for info about this, I found another gem: the conceptual design called Ruskyscraper by Eugene Staune who works for Arhitekturium architectural firm. It’s supposed to have 25 stories of 10.8ft each made primarily out of wood and glass. The articles describe it as economical, but I really doubt that– if there’s anything that I’ve learned from watching The New Yankee Workshop, wood can be very expensive. This project would probably use laminated engineered lumber, so I guess it could be doable.

    The floor plan seems to be rather wasteful, but hey, this is a concept design, not something that is probably going to be built.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 2:24 am on March 11, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: American Radiator Building, Architecture of the night, , , Crown Building, Giralda, Giralda Tower, , Merrill, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, , , New York Life Insurance, New York Life Insurance Building, Old RCA Victor Building, Skyscraper, Spanish architecture, , World Wide Plaza Building   

    Looking Up, Part 1a 

    I’d like to start a series of articles about looking up. This is the first one.

    Truly cool New Yorkers do not look up. I on the other hand, look up not much less than a tourist fresh off the bus. Unlike most tourists though, I own a really expensive long lens.

    In the beginning of the skyscraper era, architects were confused about how to design the look of these super tall buildings. One of the decisions facing them was – what to put on the top. There were many choices. A very popular one was to use a little temple/colonnade on top, based on the ancient minaret that was later converted into a bell tower – the fabled Giralda Tower. Then you could use a giant torch or lantern, a mini ziggurat, statue, a spire or a combination of several of these. In following posts of this series I’ll give you examples of those buildings. But today my theme is crowns.

    The Crown Building on 5th Ave.


    You can’t really see that without magnification – the crown features what seem to be colored glass jewels.

    New York Life Insurance Building.

    They have an awesome series of ads featuring the building. My favorite one is where they do a time-lapse walk through, with changing eras, people and New York Skyline, ending in the future where a girl with a futuristic haircut steps out of the building, into a hovertaxy and zooms away. Please let me know if you find a video of that.

    Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower. “The Light That Never Fails”, the old symbol of the company (now it’s Snoopy) is set inside a crown-looking lantern top.

    The American Radiator Building : A crown fit for the king of the Radiator Planet.

    The Old RCA Victor Building has such an expensive and complicated top, that one might question it’s usefulness – it’s almost impossible to see any details from the ground.

    Wireless Maiden, close up.

    later, architects decided that it wasn’t worth it to decorate tops of the buildings – they are hard to see. The era of International Style did not allow for interesting skyscraper tops. You’d be lucky to see a neon sign. Fortunately the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill brough back the practice of decorated tops, as can be seen on the Bear Stearns Building. Another example of an SOM topper is the World Wide Plaza Building.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:45 pm on June 21, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , earth splitting device, , , Kerosene lamp, , Skyscraper, , steel doors,   

    Windowlets 

    Previous generations had a different attitude towards natural light. Of course, some might say that it was because gas and kerosene lamps were expensive and unsafe. But I think I am beginning to understand why Tesla could not find any takers for his evilest invention (yes, eviler than the earth splitting device and the death ray) – the fluorescent lamp. Who would agree to work in an inhuman greenish glow instead of natural light?

    Well designed early skyscrapers had plenty of large windows, even the factory floors were sun drenched. I’ve read in Henry Petroski’s “The Book on the Bookshelf” about library stacks that had glass floors, transparent enough to admit light to the lower floors, but opaque enough not to allow upskirt peeks.

    Here’s a similar concept: store’s trapdoors that have little glass windowlets that admit light from above. I wonder what ripped so many of them out. I’ve seen other steel doors like that, and it seems to me that it’s pretty hard to mess them up. The thick glass is firmly embedded into steel and they are flush to the surface.

     
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