architect. Tripartite type. and scale do not. transition from mansard to fiat (after 1878). New York City. account for an equally critical aspect of the skysc per's development. initial evolul (1858-1870). or economic in nat Schuyler's proposition was followed by that ofW. could be seen as~ first skyscraper (fig. phase 3. pre-skyscraper (1849-1870). and phase 7. Drawing by Hugh Ferriss. The! attributes of technique. evolution of the tripartite compost (after 1880). Post. rather than technical. functional. 1929. While Herbert Croly wrote aOOl the scenographic nature of the skyscraper. 2 Havermeyer Building. 3). the setback block (after 1916). George P. 18911892. I 2 In his book The History of Skyscrapers. we 'NiHexamine the . phase 2. 28 This article analyzes the skyscraper with regard to the log of its signifying functioning. th~ were soon overwhelmed by the factor of height. An adequate definition of the skyscraper-both as a t) and as an object of study-is well established among' torians and critics of architecture. Montgom Schuyler proposed that the determining criteria for an. an analysis which allows not only to discuss issues that touch on the crisis ofmeanh in architecture but also to identify certain mechanisms the production of meaning hitherto ignored ~ architecte criticism. ~ lution of the superblock (after 1930). Francisco Muj» coined the term "Nee-American" architecture and argu that the Mayan pyramid. history of the skyscraper should be formal or typolo.2 Starting with the tripartite form posited by Weisman being characteristic of phase 4. phase 5.phase 4. from the first or pre-skyscra to the most recent architectural expression. Broadly spe ing.1 (frontispiece) Verticals on Wide Avenues. elevator. Weis whose typological study of the history of the skyscn recognized seven phases. evolution of the tower (188~l phase 6. WhI structural technique and the elevator were initially decisil in determining the original appearance of the type. Weisman's phases were established as follows:ph 1. namely the problem of meaning. whose form was echoed in~ setback building profile of the 1920's. h ever. Numerous histories critical appraisals have focused on the problem of det~ mining those characteristics of the skyscraper which wo enable the first building of that type to be identified.

29 3The City of the Future: Hundred StoryCity in Neo-Americam Style. 1930. . FranciscoMujica. architect.

5 Project by Paul Gerhard. Project by Adolf Loos. . 7 Project by Erich Patelski.30 5 4 The Chicago Tribune Competitirm 1924. 6 Project by Matthew Freeman.

its columnar form evokes a nonexistenthistorical past and prefigures a city in ruins. In the following analysis of the structure ofmeaning in skyscraper form. Althoughthe tripartite-columnar character of the skyscraperwas characterized as only an intermediate stage in the historyof its evolution. the recourse to diverse styles or modes suchas the Gothic.. is both column and ruin. participating in a different kind of signifying functioning. we shall restrict ourselves solelyto the following three aspects: 1) the problem of eclecticism.a column in ruins. ee fig. 4-7)4 demonstrates thiskind of primary myth in the various "column" entries (themost well-known being that of Adolf Loos. it is a type of configuration that stillprevails either in a latent or manifest form in high-rise building types of a later date (fig. The tripartite analogy tothe column. for example. Buildingsas columns were already being projected in the Enlightenment in. singular meaning. and second as beingrelated to other elements in the city.e. that is. The functional structural element raised s 31 7 n. the column house of the Desert de Retz near Marly by de Manville. etc. Beaux-Arts.~- - positionof meaning that occurs as the type evolves from phase5 to phase 7. 4). which. and capital orcrest." Theproblem of eclecticism takes us back to a dominant featureof the skyscraper's origin. which posits itselfas a direct and ironic symbolization of the building as column. Both of these relationships. shaft. This phenomenon allows one to think about the function of meaning in architecture as a signifying super-position rather than a simple. In the caseof the skyscraper. which manifests itself first as being relative to architecture and to architectural codes. is to be transformed intoa city of columns. or rather megacolumns in this particularcase. i. 2) the skyscraper's characteristic tripartite structure: base. its double signifyingaspect. 2).. TheChicago Tribune competition (figs. the architectural signifier par excellence. 3 appearsin different forms in every architectural period. and 3) the relationship between the various parts ofthis "column. where the building.are condensed and unified in the single architectonicobject. . likethe ruins of the Roman Forum.

the basel capital-crest relationship returning us to the problem of architecture as a metalanguage. or the different architectural modes or styles. often designed as an exemplar of an individual building in itself. namely. The upper terminal of the skyscraper. 5) reminds us that skyscrapers are in effect columns support. Gerhard's building in the form of an Egyptian column (see fig. Thi . Roman. But what is it that the skyscraper as column supports? In Egyptian temples. makes a com mentary on the architecture absent in the base. it is only acceptable if as ! metaphor it has the capacity to represent at one and the same time past values (through the architectural styles) and the prevailing values of the time (progress). ing the different times and thus have no simple one to one corre. as well as the apparent contradiction between the symbolism and the technique. Eclecticism Gothic. arises out of a more fundamental displacement between the economic and ideological levels which develop." This precise metaphor is repeated i~ one of the projects for the Chicago Tribune: P." stylistic ideology remains rooted in some earlier period. These institutionalized forms make a certain acceptance possible. shaft. The inertia of formal ideology relative to the other levels is made manifest by the fact that while struc 11 tural technique keeps pace with "technological utopia. and Beaux-Arts styles serve as metaphors linking the new to the old and imposing something new by means of the familiar. Even though the skyscraper is an achievable reality in technological terms.32 in this way to a symbolic position indicates the inevitable signifying existence of the element "column" itself. and capital-accounts for this signifying transformation lli the skyscraper. This dis placement between technical development and the formal typology adopted. forn versus function or art versus technique. thereby developing a parallel discourse which speaks about the fun damental contradiction of all architecture. The development of each part of the column-base.10 spondenee. the columns held up 2 painted sky ceiling. just as the trips to the moor in early science fiction films were filtered through the ideology of the period in order to transform fiction into veri similitude.

min .able well and umn JP a sd in ard's r .Project by I. Phelps Stokes. beIp.. 5) rorthaft. I the . LS an comreby fun- form ihors IV by nake noon ideveri'able as a I the vIes) disrmal !S or . 9 Project by Lossow and Kuhne. 1924. 11Project by Heinrich Mossdorf.rucstyThis .. 10Cartoon project by Frank King. N.urn- 33 IITeI 10 11 8 The Chicago Tribune Competition.

34 13 12 Chicago Tribune Competition. 2nd prize. 13 Project by Eliel Saarinen. . Winning project by Raymond Hood. 1924.

with its emphasis on unity and its denial of transformation of architecture in order to create a new context. The Critics 7 have emphasized the pragmatic nature of eclecticonventionality of the styles. individual initiative in the capitalist city. a complex combinatory and transformational game.architecture. and consumpence. inguistically ironic and sometimes cynical in' attitude or ical and conceptual contiguity-which arises when architeceffect. rectly determining the formal aspect. as a typology which is pertinent to that global ideology) but also in relationship to architectural ideology thescenographic nature of the architectural object. which is eclectic. which became manifest with cism in American architecture. The . a ticism of the twentieth century skyscraper fulfills a dual connotative operation is present in other projects as a role.ogy.implies that economic considerations are incapable of each skyscraper is treated by itself as a monument. on the other hand. pects-the structural and the symbolic-as represented by the facade treatment implies not only a certain reduction The 'skyscraper plays an important role not only in terms in formal emphasis to allow for the development of tech.the ideology of free enterprise.the mask-like character. originally had the a metalinguistic operation appears in a number of the com. the skyscraper was conceived as a sym. but rather in the process by which ment of the present-day skyscraper. that is. Thus. the winning entry by Howells and Hood.was symptomatic not so much of a de-ideolog. totality. provides an explicit typology which by its nature allows for. This againstthe explosive metalinguistic potential of eclecticism. itself. coherent style in the nineteenth century. This "Nee-Gothic" style monumentality of the skyscraper.shows the non-intrinsic or arbitrary character of meaning." but furthermore stresses the signifying independ. it I mechanism for absorption and assimilation. repress. the application of eclecticism.. does no more than reflect what I Eclecticism thus provides the means for an ideological architecture.critical role of demonstrating the arbitrariness of the relapetition entries as a critical device which undermines the tion between form and meaning. however. in this way evidently searching to formulate a new typolTheconsequent separation of the skyscraper into two as. while some of the entries in the contest are metal. bolicobject in its totality-irrespective of the particular symbolismassociated with its stylistic characteristics. inherent in all facades and tion (that is. in relation to the building in the city.of technological development and as a new manifestation of nique. On the one hand. operations that relate to reality fictitious. which rein.35 sized the formal and visual over the technological aspect. does not reside is a manner which allowed for the evolutionary develop. it forcesthe established principles or codes of architecture. If eclecticism. The sociationsof splendor and wealth. is monument. a new language necessary for the consolidation essarily eclectic nature of semi-planned urban growth and ofa new the building itself. Such an applicaWithinthe entire group of entries for the Chicago Tribune tion of styles may also represent a consciousness that the competition we can identify two fundamental operations apparent isolation in which each building is conceived is in that demonstrate this process. in relation to the production of meaning in Fromthe outset. a quest which was to a certain extent successful. like its ture is considered as an urban element and not as a single predecessor. the Woolworth Building by Cass Gilbert. and indicates the symbolic interrelationships are established between buildstruggle of language with its connotative possibilities ings and between these buildings and urban places.styles independent of their intrinsic meaning (if such existed) or of the function of the building as a product of izationof architecture but rather of its re-ideologization. in relation to the building itself. The skyscraper reveals the necvocabulary. that is.demonstrates that meaning is a relation of value-s-as phys. tends to. 8-14). On the one hand.The program for the Chicago Tribune competition ernpha. On the other hand. then the pragmatic eclecreceived tradition of architecture. This double role might seem paradoxical insofar typicallyconnotative of the Gothic now endowed with as. competition. developed as a more or less style and established codes (figs.

by Montgomery Schuyler in "The Towers of Manhattan": fying functioning. Manhattan functions as an explosion of meaning and design which puts architecture into crisis. How should one mark such a limit symbolically' architecture has traditionally been understood.36 Chicago Tribune competition. scraper became transformed into a base for the crest. The traditional styles persist even These crests with their scenic and panoramic nature were when new ones appear. and the telescopic pinnacle-appear with varia. producing a parallel architecture in which each termination is a building in itself executed in a self-contained The Tripartite Structure The analysis of the skyscraper as a tripartite structure informs its syntactic and semantic transformation in relation to the signifying functioning described above. It is only grammatic in both the literal and poetic sense. There was no limit set for the height of the skyscraper according to the zoning regulations.crest was increasingly articulated and assumed a symbolic tions in scale and proportion in nearly all buildings. only in skyscrapers.the first decade of this century. anagram-each of these metaphors makes us think of both fragmentation and unity since any recomposition implies a high degree of Crests randomness. This juxtaposition of different meanings. in. 15). Explosion. insofar as Was the upper transition equal to a completion or somethe superimposition of the diachronic (or temporal) and the thing entirely different? This relationship was expressed synchronic (or instant) axes create a specific kind of signi. The In this type of selection. The inertia of eclecticism has thus both a public and publicity element operating at the scale allowed Manhattan to become at record pace a city with a of the whole city. the body of the skythe skyscraper reverberates spatially in the urban whole. be. a parallelepiped with the minimum of supports or 'solids' and the maximum of 'voids' or windows." in the skyline. not dimension denoting the exchange value of the building. The three phases of the skyscraper's evolution which according to Weisman follow the tripartite phase are marked by the development of specific relations existing between base and capital or between base and shaft-and the later evolution of both "base" and "capital" into buildings in their own right. 9 .10 content. makes of body of the building. Each stage in the typological development of In. the body was increasingly regularized or simplified while the setback. The three elements of the column-the analogical origin of the skyscraper's form-are always present and undergo suecessive modification as a consequence of their interrelationship. a play of architectonic codes can skyscraper is an empty signifier that can assume and attract be seen to occur independently from the rest of the builddifferent meanings. as to the operating simultaneously in a non-linear fashion. this process a photograph in which architect and critic Alfred Bossom extends beyond the analysis of the building as a sign. reveals the symbolic aspect to be different from the stylistic one. in an almost identical say. Skyscrapers are scattered fragments of that explosion. yet this much longer history than that which it truly possesses-a miracle of instant history! But of course such instant history question of height was to be a concern of architects for a cannot be thought of in the same manner as the history of long time. their diffusion and their differing trajectories departing from a common origin. puzzle. ing." This is exemplified in almost independent of the architect himself.appears to be trying out alternative crests for the body of yond what is communicated by the depth of its meaning or a skyscraper which he has already designed (fig. that is the skyscraper a signifier within a discourse which is ana. "the practical requirements in every case issue. Manhattan itself may be seen as the combination of several typologies that intersect with each other in their original development and in their later evolution as fragments of a non-existent language. The The crests as signifying elements-the small buildings. and makes accessible the structures that account for the possible conditions of its symbolic functioning. at the same time as it manifests this double effect of meaning in relation to the building and to the urban totality.the upper termination that he [the archiSkyscrapers manifest a process of symbolization that is tect] has as an artist a real chance.

:ture relaThe 'the sueonhieh are ting and ild- 37 ~ / _.14Chicago Tribune Competition... kyhe the olic ng. ate submission by Claes L Oliienburg. . 14 an ldl1I- ed .~ lly? e- ed ": the is or nly hi- in m of . 1965. ere ale t of his ra I' . 1924.

1924.16-22). D. to such an extes 16 that in many cases the crest becomes the building itse (figs . opening the next. 21 . according to a functional hypothesis. and finally the case where the body 0 shaft becomes the whole building. Leland & Co. The Chrysler Building. repeated. These parallel architectures set up a game in which the signifiers are liberated. Mark's and Price towers by Frank Lloyd Wrigh' Hugh Ferriss's setback skyscraper where the whole build ing becomes a crest. united. ana quoted. On first examination this relationship between the shaft or body and the crest or capital might be interpreted sirnplisticalh as a manifestation of a contradiction in which the technica aspect of the body may be regarded as being opposed t the symbolic aspect of the crest. The transformations by which the crest cede its symbolic role first to the entire building and then to tit base can be exemplified by three instances: the "spires" ~ the St. the two apparently irreconcilable aspects tending. 1934. The law that established the need for the setback-a Tf quirement which Le Corbusier rightly regarded as romar tic-unconsciously paid homage to one of the most charm teristic aspects of the skyscraper. etc. thereby eliminating th symbolic crest entirely. in which the building as crest is transform€! into a base thereby foreclosing one transformation an. Wistar 22 Project by Frank Fort. The last case is really a mutatis of the first. which suo perimposes an invisible net on that of the city-marked by the grid of the streets to which the base relates. 16 The Chicago Tribune Competition.38 style. opposed. 18 Project by Milnar Chapman Markes. such a direct opposition dissolve! The relationships between buildings are complex insofar a: they are established not only in terms of entire building. The Chicago Tril une competition demonstrates clearly the importance of tb crest in the imagery of the skyscraper. unequaled in its elaborate 15 15 Alfred Bossom choosing a crest for the top of a skyscraper which has already been designed. but also in terms cr relations between crest and crest. If the skyscraper is analyzed in iu urban context. This cha acteristic can be observed beginning with the tripartil phase and continuing through all its successive manifest tions. 23). generating a metalinguistic discourse. 17 Project by Huestis and Huestis. namely its upwar transition toward a point of culmination (fig. or of the building's body to its crest. 21 Project by Benjamin Morris.. 20 Project by J. and' between the body a one building to the crest of another. 19 Project by Garber and Woodward. to negate each other to such degree as to make th symbolic disappear. Project by Franklin James Hunt. however.

rich and su. of p of ribthe ent self des the . of ~ht. cas ngs . by' irst ndy 39 ally 'cat I to ree- rth- the its res. ildr or the ion ned md rean'acard arIte ita- [on 21 22 .

architect. 2. 1929. first William Van Alen.4: Empire State Building.40 2. by Hugh Ferriss. 25 Chrysler Building.4: .

7. sixty-seven stories. architect. 41 &6 f6 Second scheme..29 Chrysler Building. 1929. 28. as built. 1929. e. William Van Alen. . Drawing by Hugh Ferris«.. ng 27Chrysler Building under construction.


By contrast. seems to be the apotheosis of this transition in which the whole building has become the symbol of the skyscraper itself (figs. The Empire State Building. Ely Jacques Kahn. never completely coming to a point of culmination. 38 Diagrams showing formal transformations and circulation of meanings in the evolution of the type. then. and their repetition now becomes the essential aspect of meaning. By means of the circulation of meanings the shaft of the building emerges . Shreve. . touching the sky through its scintillating re. as the prime vantage point from which. 37 and 38.1930. & Harmon. 25-29). 1929. 37. The Base We have already noted how the signifying functioning of the skyscraper may be understood in terms of its underlying tripartite structure considered as the equivalent of the classical column. thus marking a point in the evolution of a new typology of the skyscraper. its complement. the Empire State Building. and the crest as a symbol has been metonymically replaced by a double aspect: repetition and the space between considered as form in itself. ·1930. 33 Fourth stage. Lamb.1' The relation of value is here manifested as basic in the determination of meaning in architecture. 31 Second stage. Drawings by Hugh Ferriss. like the Eiffel Tower. Hugh Ferriss's drawings of the "code envelopes"-just like the buildings on Park Avenue between Fifty-third and Forty-fifth Streets-are revealing in this sense (figs. architects.30 Zoning Envelopes. 38 35500 Fifth Avenue. This is clear in the World Trade the one element that engenders another form of symbolic functioning in the skyscraper.43 flection. 36 Bricken Building. c. New York reveals itself (fig. Evolution of the setback building. and fantasy. First stage. In the transformation of the relationships among the elements of the column a stage is reached in which the base takes on the symbolic role. The meaningful relationship now becomes the space between the buildings. 1929. architect. The base as a "door" establishes the relationship of the building to the street." Drawing by Hugh Ferriss. where the "tallest building" is actually two buildings. 30-36 and frontispiece). the building replicates' the crest at another scale (a characteristic operation in designing crests). as its name would indicate. is an empty signifier remaining always in transition. is looked at only in terms of its own gaze. New York City. 32 Third stage. New York City. The relationships in this circulation of meanings can be considered as in the manner of figs. Under the setback law. 24). thereby assuming the role of the 34 "Buildings in the Modeling.

42 I. 1972. Building. 41 General view. Philip Johnson and John Burgee. First floor plan. architects. Drawing by Martin Wenrich. architects. 1923. 40 View from above. New York City. Minneapolis. Lobbl 44 42 43 . Godley and Fouilhont. 1976. Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo. Harrison and Wise.D. Corbett. architects. architects. Reinhard and Hofmeister. Texas. 1976. 1923. San Francisco. 43 Pennzoil Place. Houston. Philip Johnson and John Burgee. NI York City. John Portman and Associates.39 Rockefeller Center. Plan. 1932. 1973. 44 Ford Foundation Building. Drawing by Martin Wenrich.S. orchitects. Murray. The en takes the full height of the buildin 45 Hyatt Regency Hotel. Hood.

publicealm of the skyscraper. In Rockefeller Center this plaza-promenade acts as a doorway the entire complex. 46 . architect. tendencies ave developed. the point where the parallels intersect . 46). The base as a door in relation to the street activates a series of signifiers of public space. u The Displaced Base 45 The evelopment of the first tendency. but also between the architectonic public realm and that realm which is nonarchitectonic. New York City.. o which also amplify the perspective space. public outside realm. The use of the giant door for orgate as a fundamental signifying element reaches its extremen the World Trade Center where the two towers i themselvesake the form of a "door. and a second which develops the base as an enlarged entrance where the buildingnstead of expanding outward is perforated and i openedp. two.between architecture and non-architecture. 1976. A "doorway" as high as infinity. public outside realm and the non-designed. one which displaces the public h aspect f the building to its exterior by the use of plazas.. is pioneered by the Rockefeller Center (figs. it is hardly an accident that this metaphorhould be developed in a time of invisible coms munication. that major signifier throughout he history of architecture. The b latter is the precedent for the relationships between building and plaza recently perpetuated in the new series of skyscrapers Sixth Avenue. the displacement of d the publicrealm to the exterior. In this process. fromthe principal access points to the great metropolis (fig. Thus in the Chrysler Buildr ing ground floor is treated in a monumental way both the inscale and in detail. thus preserving the hermetic character of the building. that is to say." thus transforming t themselvesnto a gateway to the city which is clearly visi ible from both Staten Island and New Jersey. The towers take the form of a door to the city. K. The door. 39-41) and culminates in the Seagram Buildingy Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson.46 World Trade Center. marks the entry as t the mediator between public and private. Yamasaki. This space acts as a reference to the traditional space around onumental public buildings: a space provided for m the publicto meditate upon the power enclosed in the building. 12 In these the plazas have on the functionof providing a transition between the designed.

In the Ford Foundation. This transformation marks the latest stage of tn skyscraper's development. 44). The Building as Base-A Mutant Species In this second kind of transformation.47C1 Hug) 4801 Hug) 49M Rayr 46 Rockefeller Center was not only a pioneer in the treatmen of the exterior space. d 47 48 . tlit: entire building becomes a door. increased so that in the most extreme case of Portman' buildings. 45). In these examples one can see the way in which the ent~ hall becomes a fundamental element. This last is the megastru tural character toward which today's skyscrapers increa ingly tend. 42). produci a fundamental inversion by which the public aspect is in corporated into the private area. (fig. in which the skyscraper mutate.43' a series of Hyatt Hotels by John Portman and Associate. the base. T]ili\ building seems to be transitional between the work ofPorl man and the plazas on Sixth Avenue. D.S. toward a new typology of which partial examples alread) exist: the I. but the urban imageJ11 evident in the work of Johnson and Portman is absent. undergoes an unusual transformatis in which the entrance hall gradually emerges as a princips element. and Edward Baker. it becomes the medula of the building. Its size is physicall. and the Ford Foundation Building in New Yon by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo (fig. but also initiated the change in em phasis in the functioning of the base. a form that will resolve in itself as type the contradiction between city and architecture. formers a secondary signifier.13 t~ Pennzoil Place in Houston by the same architects (fig. These examples co~ tain the germs of a current problematic which is about ~ produce change in architecture at the typological andco ceptuallevels and anticipate the emergence of a totallyne type of which utopistic versions have already appeared-i the megastructure. from the primacy ~ exterior public space to the volume of public space inter. a "fifty-seven story towa higher and larger than seven tennis courts" (fig. penetrating the building itself. Center at Minneapolis by Philip Johnsa John Burgee. In Johnson's work the pub~ space is closed off and incorporated into the building as continuation of the street but the base is still differentiat from the body of the building. The base thus becoms the building itself from within.

52 Manhattan . 1929. tes irk try tJJy .es olic Sa ed he ry his rton- to onew sa de5. 50 Apartments on bridges. Drawing by Hugh Ferriss.~7Crowding dy }n. Drawing by Hugh Ferriss. Drawing by Hugh Ferriss. 48Overhead-traffic ways. 49Manhattan 1950. Detail.he 3). Project by Raymond Hood.. 1929. by Eliel Saarinen.! .n's ing lll- o. 51 Project for lakefront for Chicago t 47 nof lrIClS- -ly on )al he . . 1929. Project by Raymond Hood.

Seeley. Roberts. On twe enur . Philip Johnson and John Burgee. & Moran.48 sigi] havi by 53 I. 54 World Trade Center and Manhattan by night. architects. Cape Kennedy. Kennedy Space Center. Building. architects. Minneapolis.D. 55 Vertical Assembly Building. 1972. Urbahn.S. John F.

52). McGrawHill. a complex lay of transitions which generate signifying netp workshat interact with the rest of the city. On other hand. the relationship that is established bethe tween skyscraper in the city and between the skyscrathe persand the city is symbolic rather than volumetric. This city-skyscraper relationship may be compared with proposals which appeared first in Hugh Ferriss's The Metropolis f Tomorrow (figs. Celanese. has been dissolved. 49. as well as in the C ~'orkof Eliel Saarinen (fig. as a place where codes intersect codes. The a dematerialization of the building through reflections establishes the structure as both itself and the other. 53). the content. which are an extension of the Rockefeller Center. In the case of Saarinen's magnificent project for the Chicago lakefront. this 'arne principle emerges as a series of more subtle transitions. Johnson. t It is no accident that Portman. nd as a fragment of a larger text.56 Towers on Sixth Avenue. 48. and Roche all use mirrorsin their buildings (fig. w The traditional meaning.there are no true transitions. The Shaft The shaft of the column having been transformed. the city. the building is infiltrated and by the irresistible forces of the city and by signifiers that have hitherto only surrounded it. Le Corbusier. and the Japanese Metabolists. which are the purest expressions of that phenomenon 49 . I I' i I . The passages between one uilding and the next are strictly linear and abrupt. It is a signifier hose meanings are given to it by other signifiers. fragmented.and stretched through a process of anamorphosis now becomes one with the base and the capital as in the case the Seagram Building and the towers of Sixth Avof enue. These towers. 47. All these proposals treat the city/skyscraper as a volumetric syntax in which volume and massemain impenetrable. are from right to left: Time Life. 51). 14 In this type. in each instance the mirror not only reveals the nature of the building but also itsrole as a condenser. and tranr sitions bsent. divisions are abrupt. While the totality of the skyscraper/city is a equipped with bridges that unite the individual skyscrapers. 50) and then in Raymond o Hood's ity of Skyscrapers (figs. and Exxon. as b relationshipsshift from point to point. sign nondesign.

54). in an age when this "touching" is literally possible by means of satellites and space voyages such symbolization is no longer required. these buildings take their meanings in relation to nology has been transformed by metonymy into pure sym their context. The space between buildings. a unique skyscraper. and the possibility of desemanticization is. Here the as a result of the difference between the "marked" and the skyscraper has unfolded and the metaphor of the skyscra "unmarked" elements which constitute the city. as it occurs in the World Trade Center. and so on. The skyscraper. this limit can now no longer be thought of in the same way. These buildings condense in different ways the terialize its own metaphor. Here tech dated. to the plurality of meaning. it is the Assembly Building at role that was previously shared between each part. may be read as a metaphor for this "race" to outer space. a door both to space and lationships of substitution and from an exchange of mean. like all objects in a capitalistic society. 56). however. on their attributes as the highest.50 (fig. a fantasy. the biggest. The World Trade Center is only "detailed" for the level in which it emerges from the ground. This is a structure ~or the assembly of an object that will ma- 1 d 1 e ~ .bol. Instead it is necessary to remember that it is from earth that space is approached and earth remains on center. 55) whose lateral facade recalls the building as a whole is the symbol of its own power and silhouette of the Empire State Building and whose double acquires its meaning in a contextual relationship. has the property of incorporating within itself two values. the strangest. therefore. the most beautiful. for symbolization is after all no more than exchange itself. thus giving rise to fetishism. one which is "the biggest one in the world-four times the volume of the Empire State Building. ings. those of use and those of exchange or aggregated value. that is. doors anticipate the World Trade Center ( the city. The competition between skyscrapers is based on their exchange rather than on their use value. Architecture is no exception to this rule. 15 The claim per is realized in a building which as pure structure contain! that modern form has been desemanticized is thus invali. Openings If at first the termination of the skyscraper was necessary in order to transform the metaphor of "touching the clouds" into an apparent reality. The skyscraper is now a door. Where the skyscraper used to race upward seeking its limit. The buildings themselves could be cut off at any point. that is to say. The opening itself between the buildings themselves appears as the signifier. The Cape Kennedy (fig." according to the officialguide. Their symbolic functioning arises out of re.the "spire" that will literally reach to the sky. There is.

itA Daring New Generation of Skyscrapers. Manieri. Theskyscraper in this way places architecture in a crisis in. "La Montagna Disincantata." pa." La eiua amer. o 15 Reprinted from Alfred Bossom. 27.citta americana daUa guer1'a civile al "New Deal. the whole building may become a true column in its or proportions occurs in Magney and Tusler's Foshay Tower of as 1927-1928. 1976. 1961). ~an Skyscraper (New York: Architectural Book Publishers. 1. 1972). MarioGandelsonas. Praeger Publishers)." Architectural Record. and Celanese . (New York: Praeger Pub. Il Grattacielo e la Citta. JosephRykwert.4rchitecture. "La Montagna Disincantata. "The Evolution of the of Semiotics. 'A NewView of Skyscraper History. May 1932. William Jordy and Ralph Coe. vol. co-authors (Bari: Laterza. publication of all submitted projects. "Semiologie et Urbanisme.4." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. 1923. Building to the Skies (New York.14 Reprinted from Claes Oldenburg.A. 1973). The buildings on Sixth Avenue belong to such different cor. The of llontagna Disincantata. bUilding. co-authors (Bari: Laterza. June 1930. This article was originally published in French in L' Architecture . Vol. Although we are developing here the argument by speakingbout crests either as capital or as fundamental element. "New Skyscraper (New York. Historu of the Skyscraper (New York: Ar. Tafuri." The Rise of an American Architecture. (New York. December 1909. 1930). 1934). . Dal 1973). Elia. designed by J. Alfred Bossom. 47..44 Reprinted from Global Architecture (Tokyo: A. are complete parallelepipeds. June 1974. 1959. 178. No. d'Aujourd'hui. and say. 1934). Elia. on are theother hand.l. 4-13. 1973). XVIII. co-authors (Bari: Laterza. 115-119. ed. eds. "La 1.porations as Exxon."A New View of Skyscraper History. 30-34." Architectural Review.Tafuri. 1973. Weisman. "The Towers of Manhattan and Notes of the Design. photograph by Yukio Futagawa. 36 Reprinted from Architectural Forum. Published as "Design vs. 38. CXXIC. 49. 48. p.1." 35. Vol. "The Sky. Manieri. Winston Weisman. ed. XII. Ciucci. 50 Reprinted from Hugh Ferriss. York and the Problem of the First Skyscraper. NonSkyscraper"1909).14. Roland Barthes." Oppositions. Building the Chicago Tribune. 1. itA New View of Skyscraper Elia. photograph by Yukio Futagawa. "The Skyscraper. Skyscraper (New York: Archeology and Architecture Press. McGraw Hill. No.10. 17. in 45 Reprinted from Global Architecture (Tokyo: A. for the most part. d'Aujourd'hui. Co."La citta americana. American Architecture and Urbanism. Manieri. E. 1929). the column-scheme is reproduced such that the elements relate to 51 Reprinted from "The American Architect and The each other in different ways: either the body is developed. W." Ciucci. Claude Bragdon. The crest may develop as it does in the Spreckles in Building. p. 26 Reprinted from Francisco Mujica. II Grattacielo e 24. a there other skyscrapers that do not possess them which. 6. Reid in 1897. 2 Reprinted from W. Jr. Milan. 1969). Adam's House in Paradise (New York: Mu. 42. l. 25." paper presented at the First Congress of the International ASSOCIation sraper. Building to the Skies. 39-41 Reprinted from Architeciurai Forum. Milan. !.Ibid. Feb. Walter Kilham. D. ationf Semiotics. 1934). San Francisco. "World Trade Center" (unpublished esSociety of Architectural Hi. 46.storians. 166. Montgomery Schuyler. 3.~lfred Bossom. Form Through Function. Tafuri." Fortune. Hugh Ferriss. the base develops. Edita. "The Architectural Signifier/Column. March/Aprill975 .D. 1970). ( Woolworth uilding" (1913). Walter McQuade.A. for 23 Reprinted from M. 16-22 Reprinted from the Chicago Tribune Competition This study is interesting because it postulates a certain autonomy ofthe structure of meaning. 28. of Co. Dal seum Modern Art. hap. sofar s it indicates a direction whose signifying complexity is 1971). Manfredo Tafuri. the Romance of the cheology and Architecture Press. Building to the Skies (New 4< The International Competition for a New Administration York. Amm-ican Architecture and Other 15. IC1!na della guerra civile al "New Deal. "Skyscraper up to Date" (1899).D. 6. Edita. della guerra civile al "New Deal. Weisman. Logical and 13. Dal Co. as Architectural Review. J." L'Archiiecture B Writings. . else represent transformations of it. 9. History.Metropolis of 'Tomorrow (New York. 43. 1953. Tafuri. Jr. 37. H~torical Considerations. The History of the 1m). 29. 56 Reprinted from L'Architectl. E lishers. ~Citta. a unequaled the history of architecture. June 1974." Journal of the 11. "Design vs. Mario Gandelsonas. there are cases wherein 1974). in the AmerKaufmann. Raymond Hood Architect. taking the form of setbacks." La J." pp. dgar Kaufmann Jr. March-April 1975. William Figure Credits Jordy. Carson Webster. 52-55 Courtesy the author. 1929). 153 . Inthe development of the tower-type. Agrest. Francisco Mujica. as or illustratedin Adler and Sullivan's scheme for the Odd Fellows Temple 1891.and Buildings (Chicago: ABIG Table Book.Xotes t e e e L- is It- d these cases enter that category just after the tripartite phase or 51 d'Aujourd'hui. Non-Designed Public Places. 1930). (Harvard." 'The Rise of an American 12. Chicago.pens in Leroy Buffington's design of 1888 for a twenty-story 1923. and M." Ciucci. Metropolis 'Tomorrow (New York. Proposals for Monuments ~r presented at the First Congress of the International Associ. 1973).

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