Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sure it's tall, but it's no Burj Dubai

A 1,200-foot skyscraper, in the middle of the most geologically unstable major city in the United States.

What could possibly go wrong?

Sure is pretty, though.

You're looking at the final design for the new San Francisco Transbay Transit Center complex, unanimously chosen today by the Transbay Joint Powers Authority over two equally impressive alternatives.

The winning proposal, created by the talented architects at Pelli Clarke Pelli in conjunction with the Hines development firm, features this sleek, dramatic tower that will overlook San Francisco Bay. If built to its suggested height of 1,200 feet, the Transbay structure will dwarf everything else in downtown San Francisco by a long shot, including the world-famous Transamerica Pyramid, currently The City's tallest building at 853 feet.

Your acrophobic Uncle Swan will content himself with viewing the marvel from ground level.

Meanwhile, across the pond in the United Arab Emirates, the still-under-construction Burj Dubai now exceeds the 1,800-foot mark. Despite its already astounding height, it's only two-thirds complete.

Although Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the architectural firm that designed Burj Dubai, remains tight-lipped about the structure's final dimensions, most experts guess that the Burj will top out at around 2,700 feet. If those estimates prove accurate, Burj Dubai will be the tallest object ever built by humankind, breaking the previous record (held by a radio tower in Warsaw, Poland, which collapsed in 1991 — not exactly a positive omen) by a good 600 feet. It's already the tallest self-supported structure on the planet, as of about a week ago.

Good luck getting me up in that.

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