Comparing New And Old Skyscrapers

“Skyscraper” is one of the most subjective words I know. The problem isn’t that there’s no definition; the problem is that there are multiple conflicting definitions and no objective way to decide between them. People, including me of course, inevitably choose the definition that agrees with the way they see the issues, or that makes …

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Historic Structural Detail: Stairs

A lot of old buildings with wood-joist floors have their stairs contained within brick enclosures. It’s an early form of fire-resistant egress path. So how do you create a non-flammable stair under those circumstances? Here’s the top side of the stair, looking down (my apologies for the vertigo): And here’s the underside, looking up: Each …

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Not Just Structure: Hanging Incidentals

Mona took a picture of a random, minor detail that is stranger than most of the work-related details we see. That’s a bunch of baskets hung just below the ceiling from ropes on pulleys. Apparently this was a locker room without lockers: people would put their belongings in a basket, pull the rope to raise …

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Reputation Versus Reality

We all tend to simplify. When we talk about SoHo architecture, there’s an unstated assumption that we’re talking about cast-iron. The SoHo historic district is the biggest collection of cast-iron facades in the world, true, but that’s not all that’s there. That’s the corner of Spring and Wooster, in the heart of SoHo and there’s not …

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