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January 15, 1961 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1961-01-15
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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7

Studen
By PETER STUART

Fountain Designer Considers Buildings
Expressions of Personal Participation

By PAT GOLMEN

FrfHE FEAR of falling from tall
buildings - or the_ desire to
jump - comes naturally because
people want to participate in the
symbolic energy of the structure,
Prof. Richard Jennings of the ar-
chitecture and design school be-
lieves.
Tall structures are an expres-
sion of tremendous quantities of
static energy - the energy that
was required to push the materials
to such a height. A building also
contains its energy in equilibrium.
People are constantly moving, as
are automobiles.
Buildings, not moving and not
out of balance, thus make an ef-
fective contrast to our mobile hu-
manity.
THERE IS only one way the
static energy of a building can
be released-if the building moves
from equilibrium and topples.
People secretly wish buildings
and towers would fall so they
might see the energy released. Yet
they are equally attracted to the
noble process of building toward
the sky, and want to participate in
it.
"In an almost existential way,
people want to participate in the
creation of high buildings," Prof.
Jennings explains. They want to
be part of the labor and the ideals
involved in constructing high and
solid. When downtown areas were
first being constructed, everyone
sensed the excitement and achive-
ment of building high structures.
Sidewalk superintending became a
national pastime.
"Most buildings have existed so'
long that this generation takes
them for granted. Unconsciously,
though, they still want to partici-
pate."
Going to the top of high struc-
tures partially fulfills the need to
participate in creating them. This
is especially true in the now nearly
extinct open cage elevators.
SOMETIMES think people feel
guilty about wanting to exper-
ience the energy of tall buildings
and deliberately deny themselves
the thrill of watching the floors
pass by in an open elevator cage,"
he said.
This seems to be a masochistic
tendency and a humble one at the
same time. Participation in a
building's energy could represent
personal achievement, and since it
is merely symbolic, some people
would deny themselves the plea-
sure of "pretending to achieve" by
climbing to the top of a building.
However, this guilt seldom ap-
pears when people view natural
spectacles which give the same
sensation of energy as a tall build-
ing.
Thus, people will drive hundreds
of miles lust to see mountains be-
cause they express the same great
energy as tall buildings. They par-

ticipate in mountains by driving
or climbing up them. Mountain
climbers don't appear guilty about
participating in the energy of the
Alps.
Nor do people deny themselves
participation in the ocean's ener-
gy. The seashore, Prof. Jennings
said, demonstrates both construc-
tion and destruction of height.
Every wave is built up with great
energy, but because it is out of
equilibrium the energy is imme-
diately released. The creation-de-
struction process satisfies the ten-
sion that a tall building creates.
frE TENSION of a high struc-
ture is not only awe at the
energy imprisoned within it, but
the back-of-the-mind realization
that it just might fall.
Overhanging cornices and gar-
goyles increase the potential of de-
struction. In fact, a major prob-
lem in large cities today is that
many older buildings are oblig-
ingly satisfying everyone's desire
to see them topple by dropping
cornices and other decorations on
the heads of unsuspecting pedes-
trians.
More modern buildings, with the
clean vertical lines, tantalize be-
cause only the whole structure
can fall, not just chips here and
there.
Since today tall buildings are
constructed in clusters, it takes
particular planning to cause a
structure to give the full sensa-
tion of frozen energy which may
be released at any moment. Down-
town areas often contain so many
tall structures that the pedestrian
cannot see any one fully. The roof
of a car also cuts off much of the
view.
E UNITED Nations Building
iNew York was planned for
effect at a distance,abecause of its
location. At close range, the build-
ing seems so broad that it couldn't
topple. At a distance, however,
the narrow side is incredibly thin,
and looks like it couldn't possibly
stand upright.
Prof. Jennings, who is a world-
renowned fountain designer, is
especially interested in the low
plane surrounding tall buildings.
In many cases it is the surrounding
plane which creates the energy
sensation, he claims.
The Washington Monument in
Washington, D.C. is a prime ex-
ample of this. A reflecting pool in
front of the monument acts as a
negation of the building's captive
energy.
Ancient architectural triumphs
also substantiate the value of a
tall structure's relationship to a
flat surrounding area. Babylonian
ziggurats, Egyptian pyramids and
obelisks are found on bare, flat
lands
BECAUSE Ann Arbor has few
flat areas and few undeveloped

land areas, there are no tall build-
ings which give the full impres-
sion of energy. Burton Tower
fails from most views because the
surrounding housetops make an
uneven surrounding surface which
competes in representing energy.
The hotel which will be built at
the corner of Maynard and Wil-
liam will probably lose impact be-
cause of the uneven surrounding
area, even though in height it will
quadruple most of the buildings
nearby.
"Subdivisions suffer most from
the lack of tall buildings," Prof.
Jennings says. "People need to be
able to relate to simething high--
a tower or a building or even some-
thing as prosaic as a water tower."
Water towers provide the only
identifying mark in many suburbs.
Just in driving by, it is usually im-
possible to differentiate between
subdivisions. Towers, he contends,
would serve as orientation to areas,
giving added meaning to the in-
dividual's relation to the building.
'WEARE SO utilitarian today--
we think only of building a
tower if we have some special pur-
pose for it. Well, bells are useless
for communication today, so don't
think you' have to put bells in a
tower to make it useful. The tower
has a meaning in itself."
He believes that the purpose of
a tower can be to cast a shadow
and thus relate man to the sun.
The height of a building, i.e., the
height of man's accomplishment,
can be measured on the ground by
the building's shadow. The con-
trast provides an expression of
man's dependence on the sun.
It would seem, that towers and
tall buildings would be most ef-
fective and most popular in the
sunniest climates, but they are
usually builtin more temperate
zones. "In very warm sunny areas
the people already experience a
very direct relationship with the
sun, so they don't need the further
expression provided by a tower,
Prof. Jennings said.
"We ought to be bulding more
towers and tall buildings today
with particular care about placing
them. People should be shown that
such structures represent a social
investment in energy, a participa-
tion in the abstract idea of human
achievement. It is deplorable that
Americans will travel to Europe to
look at monuments and churches
and all sorts of tall buildings, not
realizing that the same thrill, the
same participation and wonder,
are all readily available in our
.own " architectural accomplish-
ments."
Pat Golden, a night editor
on The Michigan Daily, is
majoring in Japanese in the
literary college.

Times Tower fades into myriad of tall buildings in New York City.

THERE ARE unmistakable signst
of a right-wing revolution on
American college and universityr
campuses.
The signs point to a revival ofg
interest in individualism and de-e
centralization of power - prin-c
ciples espoused by John Locke andf
Thomas Jefferson and rekindled
by Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz).s
The word "conservative" has
been almost a term of abuse dur-
ing the decades after the NewI
Deal, but today more and morec
campus "radicals" are proudly
proclaiming themselves "conser-I
vatives."
The signs of a conservative re-
vival at the University are per-
haps typical:I
-Campus book stores report an
unusually large demand for Gold-t
water's book, The Conscience of
a Conservative.f
-Vice-President Richard M.
Nixon outdrew his more liberal1
opponent Sen. John F. Kennedy
(D-Mass) in a mock presidential'
election1
-A group of students organize,
a chapter of the national young1
conservatives' organization, Young
Americans for Freedom
IN A pre-Thanksgiving poll of
campus book stores, clerks de-
scribed the sale of the paper-back
edition of The Conscience of a
Conservative as: "fantastic, we
can't keep up with the calls we get
for it . . . Very fine, it's -selling
much better than most books of
that kind ... Very well, we've had
to reorder it three or four times."
The copies of the book which
were rapidly disappearing from
local booksellers' shelves in No-
vember were the eighth printing
since the book's introduction just
two months previously. The pub-I
lisher, Hillman Periodicals, Inc.,
of New York, reports that a big
proportion of the sales, which to-
talled about 400,000 in the first
two months (in addition to 100,-
000 more hard-cover copies), wasI
in book stores in 200 United States
college and university towns.
Enthused with the success of
Goldwater's book, publisher Alex-
ander Hillman has called it "the
biggest political book of my time."
At last check, it was still among
the top 15 best sellers nationally
in the listing of "The New York
Times Book Review."
PERHAPS helping to explain the
popularity of Goldwater's book
is the strong showing of the con-
servative-tending Nixon in the
fall's mock election at the Univer-
sity. Students picked Nixon over
Kennedy, 2,372 to 2,048, six days
before the state and nation both
gave the nod to Kennedy.
It is interesting to note that
original plans to have the straw
vote sponsored by the campus
Young Democratic and Young Re-
publican organizations had to be
scrapped when the Young Repub-
licans refused to participate ac-
tively.
The margin of 324 votes which
the University gave Nixon was the
smallest of all seven Big Ten uni-
versities which conducted similar
polls. The conference, which in-
cludes many of the country's
largest universities and certainly
several of the most influential,
voted 21,034 to 15.058 for Nixon.
Three of the universities (Indiana,
Northwestern and Ohio State)
each gave Nixon a nearly.2-to-
edge.
Not long after the election, a
band of University students laid
the groundwork for an organiza-
tion of young conservatives to be
known as the Young Americans
for Freedom. The organizers an-
nounced that the club would bring
to the campus speakers qualified
Peter Stuart, a night editor
on The Michigan Daily, is
majoring in journalism in the
literary college.

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United Nations was planned for distance
view of narrow side.

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Going, going, gone . . . high, narrow building
looks like it might topple any minute.

It'll never fall -wide, low structure lacks excitement.

THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE SUNDAY, JANUARY 15, 1961

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