Buildings which have "balance"


I'm talking, metaphorically, about a picture that has soft colors but sharp lines.  Lik  a sense of disaster that's been fully reigned in.  Floating, impossible balconies made possible by support cables, possibly.  That has a balance between the dangerous and the safe; like a balcony without a railing that's only five feet off the ground:  it won't break you but it's going to hurt.  Like Gehry meets Calatrava.  Like speeding race cars caught in motion.

Feb 5, 13 1:11 am

Here's a building that has balance.  Jetsonian, corny, but always a welcome sight on the Chicago skyline.  The Marina Towers of Chicago:

A strong presence, at the macro level,  with enough surface modulation and pleasingly shaped volumes at the micro level.  Not bad for having been built in 1959, and possibly on the boards before that.  And, imagine that, all hand drafting.

Sorry, but the fusion of Gehry and Calatrava does not rock my world.  Less is more.

Feb 5, 13 3:06 am

Marina towers? this must have been where Jean Gang got her idea for Aqua

Feb 5, 13 12:00 pm

Marina towers?

Fell in love with them as a kid.  At home, we had a small geography "encyclopedia"  with a book for each continent - with Antarctica tossed in with Oceania, with tons of pictures and maps.  It really cemented my love for buildings and city layouts.  Of what I could see on the Chicago skyline, Marina Towers stood out to me, more so than the linear ones.  I still like them.

Feb 5, 13 5:00 pm

I'm going to be a nerd here but I once watched cars drive through the garage at Marina City for a good 15 minutes. The spiral and the way the light from the headlights shone out of the building was pretty amazing.

Feb 5, 13 8:25 pm

That's a good kind of nerdiness, Josh.  It sounds lovely.  I too have always loved Marina City.

Gmatc, I find the Citicorp Tower to be so balanced that it is hideously UNbalanced, in my eyes.  I despise the "daring" support-free corners (see the base photograph).  But The New Yorker's extensive article on the engineering flaw of that building (referenced in the wikipedia article) is a must-read for all architects.

Feb 5, 13 9:34 pm

Some balanced, but unbalanced, tall buildings in the West:

San Francisco - Transamerica Pyramid - the "shoulder haunches," probably necessary for services, seem oddly proportioned, as in neither here nor there.  Also, the latticework at the base, in the soft story, probably necessary for seismic reasons, looks cluttered.

Los Angeles - US Bank Tower - proportioned and the tiers look great from afar but, up close, the redundant "bay windows" are tiring. Its "cage within a cage" anti-seismic design philosophy is its most interesting feature.

Seattle - Gateway Tower, now owned by the city - it's symmetry has been compared to ... ahem ... a body part.  If approaching it from the side, such as on a ferry from across the Sound, that analogy becomes valid ... and humorous.  And someone didn't catch this when they modeled it?

Feb 5, 13 10:03 pm

My favorite building in Montreal - IBM Tower, KPF, 1991 - for being such a beautiful city, many of its high rises are bland.  Not so with IBM Tower:

The only issue I have is that the appendage at the top does not mimic the spacing of the partially exposed colonnade at lower mid-level.  Other than that, it's the most fluid high-rise in the city.

Feb 6, 13 8:55 am

_^ !! u_

Feb 6, 13 10:20 am
vado retro

and after you look at marina towers you can go bowling next door.

Feb 6, 13 10:33 am

Are these kind of what you had in mind?

Hanging Shelter, Designed by Fatma Elmalimpinar and Fabian Mantel, 2001

Norman Foster - British Museum

John Lautner - Chemosphere

Feb 6, 13 12:26 pm

_^ !! u_

Is that Brasilia or Canberra?

Feb 6, 13 3:23 pm

and after you look at marina towers you can go bowling next door.

Architects don't bowl.  LOL.

Feb 6, 13 3:23 pm

_^ !! u_ = brasilia

canberra wha?

Feb 6, 13 3:30 pm


Feb 6, 13 3:44 pm

_^ !! u_ = brasilia

canberra wha?

Canberra Australia also has a master planned capital, but I don't think around 1914 they would be designing buildings with that look.  Ok, Brasilia it is.

Feb 6, 13 3:53 pm

@ Miles:

Why aren't YOU in the picture, holding it up with your palm, the way all the tourists do?

From what I recall, all Renaissance buildings were built without structural calcs.  They just guessed and/or instinctively over-structured them.  At least, I think they did for most of them.

Feb 6, 13 3:56 pm

That scaffolding drastically changes the perception of the tower.  Very cool.

Feb 6, 13 8:02 pm

Anybody like those balanced, rounded, yet slightly chunky concrete buildings out there?  Here's one:  St. Joseph's Hospital in Tacoma WA, some 35 miles south of Seattle. The fact that it is hoisted up on these smallish columns in a seismically active area is interesting.  It's kind of funky, being from 1974 - wonder what the floor plans and patient rooms are like ...

Feb 14, 13 10:44 pm

Some buildings to the north of us:

Pleasing to the eye - especially this part of the building; the rest is still nice, but more repetitive - National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON, Moshe Safdie

NOT pleasing to the eye - right across the river from the above building - the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, QC, Douglas (forgot last name)

Feb 15, 13 3:04 am

What's with the concrete?  Ok, that Tacoma hospital is balanced, but obnoxious.  But if one looks for it, it is visible from the freeway near to it.

In terms of balance and sending out the message of "flight," what's better than Eero Saarinen's then-TWA terminal for JFK airport, circa 1964?  There are some evocative buildings at airports, especially the major ones.

I have not been to this airport lately, but I believe more concourses had to be extended out of this themed entrance to make it workable for future growth, and for more gates.

Feb 15, 13 7:29 pm

A weird one.  Balanced, symmetrical, yet tenuous, because of the canopy between the two volumes.  It feels very austere and scaleless when near it.  An Expo 98 pavilion at Lisbon Portugal's Parque das Nacoes by Alvaro Siza Vieira.

Feb 19, 13 2:24 am

It's balanced now.

Feb 23, 13 10:53 am

Here's one.  No, not the "24 Hour Fitness" behind it!  This is on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles, parallel to and south of Hollywood Blvd.  It looks small, but it's big once you're inside.  No footprints and hand prints of movie stars, nor a Walk of Fame, but still a worthwhile 5 minute walk from there to check it out.

Feb 24, 13 8:11 pm

I was always partial to Tail o' the Pup


Feb 24, 13 10:51 pm


Haha - 2 things: the street sign for LaCienega Blvd., partially shown, and the shoes on the customer - an extra on "Scarface?"

Feb 24, 13 11:37 pm

One of my favorite buildings in Asia.  Bank of China, 1990ish, Hong Kong, IM Pei:

The only thing that's slightly weird is that is tapers once, to about 1/2 its footprint, instead of two tapers, to ease the upward transition.  But, since it's geometrically so taut, who am I to argue with success?

Feb 25, 13 3:52 pm

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