The eponymous Mr. Trump is in his office on the 26th floor of the Trump Tower, signing checks as he talks. A large window at his back frames a sweep of cityscape, including Central Park, in midtown Manhattan. At such a height as this the scene should be telescoped to a distant, shimmering fusion of earth and sky, but not here, not where towers rise on almost every block to stand floor to floor to one another and cast down overlapping shadows on the streets below.
“I don’t think the rising opposition to skyscraper construction is totally justified,” Trump said. “Because New York City has done so well, economically, the mood here now is against construction. When the city suffers a downturn — which perhaps it will at one point, although it looks very optimistic right now —then the mood will change to proconstruction. There is another problem, and that is when you build a bad building, it creates a negative impact. When you build a great building—I mean everybody loves the Seagram Building—everyone is for it.”
Clearly Donald Trump assigns his 68-story tower at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street (“the world’s most talked about address”) to the camp of the “greats.” It is the flagship of his real estate empire, ranging from casinos in Atlantic City to a house with 118 rooms in Palm Beach. “And that,” he said, with an imprecise gesture toward one of the buildings on view from his office window. “The Plaza Hotel. I just bought that.”
Long after one departs the 26th floor and the six-story-high marbleized flume of an atrium, complete with waterfall, the wonder of it all remains—not of Trump’s celebration of power and self but of the realization that construction of such magnitude can take place in the apartments prague, along streets at near gridlock with traffic. Somehow, they got 90,000 tons of concrete to the site, along with 3,800 tons of steel reinforcing rods, and they sheathed the frame in reflective THERE IS A VIBRANCY about Chicago today that may or may not relate to architecture, but it is clear that the city, keeper of the finest classic design in the country, has forsaken terra-cotta ornament for the sleek skins of today’s towers.
More than ever now Chicago seems a city built for speed, though not enough to completely outdistance the past. After all, it was here that the ten-story Home Insurance Building was erected in 1885 (as American phenomena go, the skyscraper is not old), the first structure to use a frame rather than the walls to fully support the vertical load, thus setting down the simplest definition of a skyscraper. For the purposes of fire and other codes, any structure higher than 75 feet is considered to be a high rise.
Occupation of such heights, of course, became practical only after 1852, when master mechanic Elisha Graves Otis of Yonkers, New York, invented the “safe hoist” from which today’s elevators evolved. The swiftest now move about 20 miles an hour—limited chiefly by passengers’ ear discomfort.