--> Gill Blog: Coffee Fuels Information Exchange

Gill Blog

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Coffee Fuels Information Exchange

As is my custom on Saturday mornings, I settle down with a couple of good magazines and my favorite coffee at the local Starbucks.

The Economist has an article that catches my attention: the internet in a cup.
Where do you go when you want to know the latest business news, follow commodity prices, keep up with political gossip, find out what others think of a new book, or stay abreast of the latest scientific and technological developments? Today, the answer is obvious: you log on to the internet. Three centuries ago, the answer was just as easy: you went to a coffee-house. There, for the price of a cup of coffee, you could read the latest pamphlets, catch up on news and gossip, attend scientific lectures, strike business deals, or chat with like-minded people about literature or politics.
I read in the New York Times that collaborating architects Daniel Libeskind and David Childs have presented plans and models for the monumental replacement of the World Trade Center, to be named Freedom Tower. The building will house 70 floors of office space topped by broadcast antennas, wind turbines and cables resembling a suspension bridge. The use of windmills in a tall building "is innovative and different and new and is something that will have to be designed carefully," said Ashok Gupta, director of the air and energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who has been advising redevelopment officials on environmental issues. Freedom Tower will extend its reach of twisting framework and spire to a symbolic height of 1776 ft in recognition of the year of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. The allusion strains credulity.
One outspoken critic of the redevelopment at ground zero, John Lumea of the Phoenix Project, said, "The world's tallest building moniker is a shibboleth of feel-good boosterism perpetrated by rebuilding officials who have nothing else to offer the public but a P.R. campaign."

Never mind the Freedom Tower — you can get an argument today about just what is the world's tallest building, even after disallowing cable-supported broadcast towers and agreeing not to count rooftop antennas.

The CN Tower in Toronto unhesitatingly describes itself as the world's tallest building, at 1,815 feet. But some see it is as more of a mast, with a relatively small amount of occupied space. To the council [on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat], it is the tallest free-standing structure in the world.
Originally constructed as a broadcast communications tower, the CN Tower remains the defining element of the Toronto skyline. But, as a building, it is an anachronism. Even as a communications tower, in the age of the Internet, it is essentially obsolete. At best, it has become a monumental theme park and a symbol of the thinking of the last century. Does it make Toronto the greatest city in the world? I doubt many Canadians, and even fewer Americans, would think so. Will the proposed Freedom Tower make New York City greater than it already is? I seriously doubt it.

Some might even ask, what freedom? Today, as in years gone by, freedom is not in the tallest structures in the world, but in small coffee shops on street corners where people gather to exchange information and ideas, to read a newspaper or magazine, or to connect to the Internet with laptop computers or wireless handheld devices to check their email and, perhaps, post notes to their websites on a Saturday morning.
A task force of leading building industry experts formed by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat met on October 15, 2001 in Chicago and stated that there are several actions that can be taken to enhance the emergency performance of buildings including egress strategies, multiply-redundant building systems, integrated building control systems, performance-based design, education, and research.

The task force also concluded that it is not practical to design any building to withstand the maliciously directed impact of a large fuel-laden aircraft and that the towers of the World Trade Center performed heroically allowing more than 20,000 people to evacuate.
Reading David Sucher's City Comforts, there's much more to consider and discuss before we can view the Freedom Tower as anything more than an emotionally charged political response to terrorism.

And here in the New York Times, I see that:
Federal law enforcement officials said on Friday that they had issued new warnings to their counterparts in New York and other large American cities about the possibility that terrorists might try to strike during the holiday season.
I think I'll grab another coffee.


Post a Comment

<< Home