Only a very small part of architecture belongs to art: the tomb and the monument. Everything else that fulfills a function is to be excluded from the domain of art. – Adolph Loos
One hundred years later, we could add the commercial highrise to Loos’ brief list as a kind of mega-monument, its expression totally divorced from the floorspace it happens to contain.
Here are proposals for three cities that have expressed highrise ambitions but not yet gotten around to fulfilling them. In opposition to the perversely bounded monumentality of most “signature towers,” these projects participate fully in their respective urban situations. More to the point, they leverage the authority afforded by their vertical scale to restructure entire cities and punctuate regional identities.
As a group, these highrise projects decisively exclude themselves from the status of art-monument and aspire to be completely architectural.