The Skyscraper City
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Undergraduate Studies
Course Number: NARH 3870
Course Format: Lecture
Permission Required: No
- Architectural History, Theory & Criticism
- Urban History, Theory & Criticism
- Visual Culture
The skyscraper, emblem of the modern city, is a form of architecture both celebrated and vilified in the popular imagination. Mythologized in film and literature but often unnoticed in our daily lives, these tall buildings offer many themes for historical and critical exploration. This course investigates skyscraper designs, both realized and imagined, from the earliest towers in Chicago to the most recent grandoise iterations in Asia and the Middle East. We look closely at innovations in tectonics, from the origin of the steel frame to contemporary “green” tower construction. We also review the ever evolving debates around aesthetics, safety, and symbolism. Metaphorical notions of the tower as an urbanized mountain peak or a “cathedral to capitalism” round out our investigation. Course material is presented through image-based lectures, film clips, literature, and guest speakers.