The skyscraper and the twentieth century are synonymous; the tall building is the landmark of our age. As a structural marvel that breaks the traditional limits on mankind’s persistent ambition to build to the heavens, the skyscraper is this century’s most stunning architectural phenomenon. It is certainly its most overwhelming architectural presence. Shaper of cities and fortunes, it is the dream, past and present, acknowledged or unacknowledged, of almost every architect. From the Tower of Babel onward, the fantasies of builders have been vertical rather than horizontal. Frank Lloyd Wright, caustic critic of cities, could still project a mile-high skyscraper; when the Futurists proclaimed an energetic new world it was in the form of streamlined, soaring towers. These flamboyant visions, full of pride and prejudice, have released architectural talents and egos from the rule of reason and responsibility.

But the...


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