written/non-written things by me (from 2005-2008)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Towers


09/09/05

The summer of 1999 I worked in the Chevron Tower in downtown Houston. My mother worked in the tower opposite. We were connected by a catwalk a few stories above busy McKinney St. We’d meet on the walkway before lunch and walk together to The Park, a large food court and shopping mall connected to all the towers via pedestrian tunnels that lie beneath the downtown. The whole infrastructure was a land for exploring nooks. I enjoyed the topological downtown and especially how it came with its own weather. There were spots, usually, between two buildings and a nearby flat parking lot, of extreme crosswinds created by the towers where people could be observed shouldering the resistance against there will to enter the building through rotating doors. Myself, I loved struggling against that wind. Like surfing or hang gliding. Spots, while walking down the street, where you hit ghost-like heat pools that emanated from ventilation gratings. I’ve since been fascinated and allured by the physical and social architecture of American CBDs. They’ve become settings for my foggy recollections and dreamscapes and happenstances There are few that come to memory, mostly those skylines that appear unexpectedly on the landscape. To name two..

Midland, Texas:
Where the land is so flat that you feel the dizzying curvature of the sky. Where directly at zenith the blueness seemed so dark and cold, that space seemed too close to earth, like looking up toward out the window of an airplane. And here amidst a typical west-Texas small town economy, surrounded by extinct Woolsworth’s and hole-in-the-wall shops selling “Bail Bonds” were a couple of 10+ storied, mirror-exteriored modern buildings. Mostly, empty now, the remnants of oil boom egos, and the realization of the myth of what human progress should look like on the landscape. Textbook technological determinism and signifier of the success of capital, that is if our thoughts venture that way.

And there are others similar in my memory.

Bartlesville, Oklahoma:

My mom and I came across Bartlesville after escaping a night of six tornadoes, late in the afternoon where half the sky was black (where we had come from) and the other half (where we were headed) the twilight clear calm over the immaculate, but desolate downtown of Bartlesville. The buildings and sidewalks seemed all less than 5 years old. Streets were named after presumably white business men. A miniature wallstreet? A town owned by Phillips Oil, designed by its planners. Again another deliberate idealization of progress. Mom and I stumbled across, and were surprised to find a Frank Lloyd Wright Museum. It was about to close but we looked for a short while, thinking that capital “A” Architecture doesn’t seem to fit here. Now, I question why it shouldn’t fit.


Now I believe how wonderful it is that it exists. How eerie and nostalgic and beautiful, how idealistic this town was, and determined to make itself seen.

And that’s why I love skyscrapers, and most other immense constructions. Not because they are necessarily useful or the realization of human potential, but because they are so loud in their exclamation to the world, yet imminently vulnerable and na├»ve. (Like big dead gravestones.)








Below, a great exhibit.
http://www.moma.org/exhibitions/2004/tallbuildings/index_f.html

My name is Hannah Pierce-Carlson