Skyscrappers are a signature piece and building type in the realm of architecture. Created with the spirit of being able to build so high and touch the sky (no so different from the goal of the European cathedrals), and now it seems that every architectural firm is trying to make their name as designing and building the world’s tallest new skyscraper (with the currently record leader still not being built yet).
Inga Saffron is the architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and in her speech for the “TEDxPhilly” series, she lays out a challenge to cities to shift their focus to improving and creating amenities that would create better urban living environments, and away from, as she puts it, “skyscraper fantasies and dreams of increased tourism”. Saffron makes a very agreeable point that public spaces need to become a top priority, suggesting that cities focus on upgrading public transit services, adding bike lanes along major roads, promote walking as a transportation method, and creating/maintaining city parks and public plazas. She feels that since many (if not all) major cities can benefit from a variety of densities, and that this new focus would allow for greater flexibility. I feel this definitely deserves AT LEAST a +1 on Google+.
Now, who is this Inga Saffron and why all the hoopla? Well, Saffron is a 2011-12 Leob Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, researching how cities can keep their identities as viable living places in this huge, globalized world. She has been an architectural critic for over 10 years, writing about urban design issues and reviewing many memorable new projects and buildings, yet Saffron’s main interest are the lesser-mentioned and oft-ignored places that people typically look past, yet encounter in their everyday lives and routines.