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29 March 2012

Internet architecture

No, I’m not talking about packet switching, IP addresses and proxy servers. What I meant is internet-era architecture. I’m talking about this:

These days people believe anything you dream is possible right now — that niche audiences deserve to be served — and that what can be done should be done. I’m reminded of the quote from Brion Gysin: “I could easily blast so much keef night and day I become a bouhali; a real-gone crazy, a holy untouchable madman unto whom everything is permitted, nothing is true.”

But here’s the thing transgression used to be the thing on the edges; now it is the center of our reality.

I’d call the prospect of a building like the one depicted up above to be quite futuristic but here’s the thing, that video is from 2008. Initially it was claimed that this Dynamic Tower would be built by 2010. If it were so, this blog post would probably be more reportage than speculation. But the Wikipedia entry on the building shows that the dreams of the project’s architect, David Fisher, take after the internet in more ways than one:

    In 2008, the designer of the Dynamic Tower said that he expected it to be completed in 2010. In 2009 Fisher claimed to finish construction late 2011. However, construction has not started yet, and there has been no official announcement of the building site. Fisher did not “say where the tower would be built, […] because he wanted to keep it a surprise.”

    Fisher distributed a biography which said he received an honorary doctorate from “The Prodeo Institute at Columbia University in New York”. No such institution exists, and Columbia said it had never awarded Fisher an honorary degree. Fisher acknowledges that he is not well known, has never built a skyscraper before and hasn’t practiced architecture regularly in decades.

Anyway, my favorite section of the project’s official website is this one, wherein there are excellent half-baked ruminations on “the concept of time” and “history and the fourth dimension.” If you are a regular reader of this here blog, you will know I am a great fan of half-baked ruminations.

Then again, reality is often just as surprising as people’s babbling fictions.

Don’t believe me?

Well, a former colleague recently reminded me of the time I did work for these people:

Headquarters of The Longaberger Company (exterior view)

Headquarters of The Longaberger Company (interior view)

This building borrows its the shape from the company’s best-selling product, the “Medium Market Basket.”


Optimism about such blue-sky futures varies from person-to-person. For example, the innovator of the basket-shaped building did not find as much enthusiasm for his dreams among his heirs.

    The basket handles weigh almost 150 tons and can be heated during cold weather to prevent ice damage. Originally, [founder] Dave Longaberger wanted all of the Longaberger buildings to be shaped like baskets, but only the headquarters was completed at the time of his death. After his death, further basket-shaped buildings were vetoed by his daughters.

In summation, I have mixed feelings about these kinds of buildings. I mean, the Dynamic Tower strikes me as the Lamborghini of the architectural world — you should know what I mean by that — but I hope all freakish heart beats strong for a long, long time.

Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis  

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