August 12, 2009

Quite Literal Vertical Cul-De-Sac Rises in Manhattan

Leon Krier has in times past called the skyscraper a "vertical cul-de-sac," and a developer in New York is taking the idea to the next logical step, bringing cars right up to your door in a skyscraper. According to an article in Architectural Record the "new residential building, designed by Selldorf Architects, takes the privacy and parking ease of a gated community from the burbs to the "urbs" and turns it on end."

Cross section of a new "Sky" Garage in New York's 200 Eleventh Avenue.

I struggle to find the words to describe how bafflingly stupid and absurd this development is, but Krier quite correctly notes that skyscrapers carves out a vertical, rather than horizontal space separate from the street network below. It then seems only natural, that the inclination to have the car be the measure of all things, follow from the horizontal suburban gated enclaves or "burbclaves" to vertical "urbclaves."
A suburban garage in a vertical format where one need not see anyone till safely home.

In Detroit I remember seeing an old theatre in a historic tower turned into a parking lot so that the office workers would never have to exit their secure vehicles until they could safely exit into the building. This apartment tower with its so called "Sky" Garages simply pushes that idea to the logical extreme that one finds in the suburbs, where one is locked in the car from door to door, eliminating all unwanted human contact.

The Michigan Theater parking lot, victim of suburban paranoia.

It is a truly sad development that now in the city, where one is accustomed to deal with people, where one ought to find community interaction, one need not interact with anyone they do not wish. The auto-centric mindset is not one that is promoting cars as transit, but as vehicles to pursue an anti-communitarian ideal of security fed by a paranoia towards interacting with anyone, even to the level of the ubiquitous New York doorman.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This appeared in Mad Magazine umpteen years ago. I wish I could find the issue, but there were always those articles about crazy inventions. One such was about parking - another example being a parking spot that would tilt up during rush hour so cars could pass underneath :-D

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