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Old 01-01-2013, 10:54 PM
 
Location: SoCal
1,243 posts, read 1,577,340 times
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I think American cities have "outgrown" the skyscraper pissing match phase. IMO, skyscrapers MUST serve a distinct purpose and justify their cost. I do think they are overrated to a point. Then again look at Hong Kong, that city is an exception as honestly, there really isn't any other direction to build BUT up. But the bad side can ruin once vibrant neighborhoods. Just look up the history of LA's Bunker Hill. It was once one of LA's best urban neighborhoods. It declined and during the 1950's the city authorities tore down the entire neighborhood, flattend most of the hill itself and built.....wait for it.....parking lots. Eventually those lots gave way to the cluster of skyscrapers we see today that make up LA's contribution to the financial industry. However, even today Bunker Hill is more sterile than the otherwise thriving downtown. A few of the buildings sit on pedestals due to the varying topography and as a result the street life in that part of downtown is lacking.

So really, skyscrapers IMO can do just as much bad as good. I don't for a second think skyscrapers make a particular city better than another.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:16 AM
 
Location: Pasadena, CA
10,087 posts, read 13,163,031 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MB8abovetherim View Post
I think American cities have "outgrown" the skyscraper pissing match phase. IMO, skyscrapers MUST serve a distinct purpose and justify their cost. I do think they are overrated to a point. Then again look at Hong Kong, that city is an exception as honestly, there really isn't any other direction to build BUT up. But the bad side can ruin once vibrant neighborhoods. Just look up the history of LA's Bunker Hill. It was once one of LA's best urban neighborhoods. It declined and during the 1950's the city authorities tore down the entire neighborhood, flattend most of the hill itself and built.....wait for it.....parking lots. Eventually those lots gave way to the cluster of skyscrapers we see today that make up LA's contribution to the financial industry. However, even today Bunker Hill is more sterile than the otherwise thriving downtown. A few of the buildings sit on pedestals due to the varying topography and as a result the street life in that part of downtown is lacking.

So really, skyscrapers IMO can do just as much bad as good. I don't for a second think skyscrapers make a particular city better than another.
Bunker Hill is really a great cautionary tale against wide-spread urban renewal.

The newest skyscraper in Los Angeles is sort of breaking ground (the existing hotel is currently being "demolished" piece by piece), and may possibly be the tallest in the city when completed. The project was scaled down a bit post-recession and is now just one large tower with almost exclusively hotel rooms and few offices - I believe it was an office / residential project initially. There is a huge need for hotel rooms in DTLA (~ 99% occupancy) and that need is only going to grow as Farmer's Field is built. Do you think this counts as there being a "need" for a skyscraper, or should the resources have been spread throughout downtown in a series of smaller buildings (obviously it is not as easy as that because the developer owns only the property at Wilshire / Fig).

I'm curious if Angelenos were concerned or tried to stop the urban renewal of Bunker Hill, or if the general consensus of the population followed that of the planners. In other words, did people try to protest and / or stop the demolition of Bunker Hill?
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:22 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,352 posts, read 26,384,041 times
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Originally Posted by AJNEOA View Post
I don't think they are needed, unless there's a defined functional need that's determined at the time of design and build. I think a lot of people see them as icons of greatness or grandeur, but they rarely add to the quality of street life/activity. In some cases, they suck too many people off the street, reducing vibrancy (e.g. creating dead zones).

There is something to be said for a great skyline, but these notions of "cities need skyscrapers because of hopes of greatness" seem superficial to me.
I agree.

I suppose the question was on my mind because of other discussions I've encountered about height limitations. Sure, skyscrapers can be impressive from a distance, but I sometimes feel the desire to build them takes away focus from design and planning and places it on the merits of one individual structure.

A bunch of well-designed buildings does not a good city make, imo.

Here's a discussion I found on Haussman's re-design of the City of Lights.

Streetwalls of Paris (photos and commentary)

Obviously, American cities do not have a dictator in the form of Napoleon III who could or would be willing to confiscate private property in the name of mass-scale urban redesign (perhaps a liberal version of GWB would do it). But perhaps they would be better served by having shorter buildings with an eye towards developing a more coherent urban fabric?
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Old 01-02-2013, 04:51 PM
 
1,015 posts, read 1,547,459 times
Reputation: 746
Quote:
Originally Posted by munchitup View Post
Bunker Hill is really a great cautionary tale against wide-spread urban renewal.

The newest skyscraper in Los Angeles is sort of breaking ground (the existing hotel is currently being "demolished" piece by piece), and may possibly be the tallest in the city when completed. The project was scaled down a bit post-recession and is now just one large tower with almost exclusively hotel rooms and few offices - I believe it was an office / residential project initially. There is a huge need for hotel rooms in DTLA (~ 99% occupancy) and that need is only going to grow as Farmer's Field is built. Do you think this counts as there being a "need" for a skyscraper, or should the resources have been spread throughout downtown in a series of smaller buildings (obviously it is not as easy as that because the developer owns only the property at Wilshire / Fig).

I'm curious if Angelenos were concerned or tried to stop the urban renewal of Bunker Hill, or if the general consensus of the population followed that of the planners. In other words, did people try to protest and / or stop the demolition of Bunker Hill?
I've never read anything suggesting that there was much fuss about the demolition of Bunker Hill, except for the Angels Flight funicular. And Angels Flight was dismantled and restored to service decades later and runs today. Only afterwards did folks like Mike Davis and the filmmakers of Ask The Dust critique that loss. By contrast, there seems to have been a lot of protest in the earlier demolition of the community in Chavez Ravine, and in the later transformation of Little Tokyo. Bunker Hill had a lot of single residents, especially single male residents, in rooming houses and small hotels; I wonder if people didn't think they were "real" residents.

In demolishing Bunker Hill, LA demolished much of its Victorian housing stock. If it had remained, would it be as valuable today as San Francisco Victorians?

IMO, Downtown LA, trying to become more of the region's center again, where the rail lines converge, is a good place for highrises.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:44 PM
 
Location: SoCal
1,243 posts, read 1,577,340 times
Reputation: 848
I found a couple of sites that broach the subject of Bunker Hills redevelopment:

On Bunker Hill | a lost neighborhood found

L.A.‘s Oldest Redevelopment Plan - FourStory - Fact and Fiction For a Fair Future

Los Angeles Downtown History Tour: Part 2
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