Steven Holl says...

"(...) in New York, architecture with a sense of social purpose is becoming increasingly rare.

Society's tendency today to sanctify wealth and celebrate the super rich is also the bane of the 99 per cent. A recent op-ed in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof, titled Inequality Is a Choice, stated that in 2014, consolidated end-of-year Wall Street bonuses were twice the total annual earnings of all Americans working full-time at the minimum wage.

I have a client from that culture who makes an annual wage of $650 million. That is approximately $1.4 million per day. We might consider how this astonishing unequal income has begun to take architectural form."

"If we fast forward to Manhattan in 1934 and buildings like the Rockefeller Center, thin and vertical architecture marked great public urban space; the Empire State Building's vertical dominance offered a public observatory deck.

No such public space will be offered by our present privatised spires. Not only do they deny public access to the top and cast long shadows on the street, they will seldom be occupied, as their $90 million apartments are financial instruments, not really apartments for everyday life. Many of these profane spires have been built with tax abatements from our once public-oriented city government.

Architecture is the greatest tool available to our species. Our lives are lived within the urban framework we construct. As Churchill said, "We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us." Our choices today give shape to future generations."

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Photograph via Beautiful Global

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