Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Towering Monstrosity, part II

My suggestion that planners install a sleek, aerodynamic windmill stanchion on Council Crest, rather than the proposed ugly "Erector Set" emergency communications tower, may not pencil out.

Today's Oregonian reported that high demand for wind turbines and towers has driven up their prices.

On the plus side, the story also reported that prices may come down as more manufacturers get into the booming wind farm business.

A graceful windmill-derived tower is still worth looking into for the sake of Council Crest— and the entire city, which will view whatever gets installed.

What will it be? Pleasure or pain?

Wherever they are, towers draw odd responses.

The Eiffel Tower is "skeletal" yet magnificent. What is its appeal? Its lights? Its history? Its accessiblity? The city and boulevards at its feet?

Would tourists flock to Pisa's tower if it weren't leaning?

I once lived in a house with a view of San Francisco's Mt. Sutro Tower. Try as I might, I always associated it with an alien creature from "War of the Worlds."

The Portland Airport's flight tower has architectural pretensions but reminds me of a monolithic bludgeon.

Closer still to home, our prominent Healy Heights tower, strangely, doesn't draw much comment one way or the other, except that it wipes out broadcast signals to our neighborhood.

A few years ago a "branding" consultant visited Hillsdale and exclaimed that the orange and white tower would make a perfect "iconic" brand for the community. The idea went nowhere, but until now I have never taken the trouble to figure out why.

The problem with the Healy Heights tower, like old bony on Council Crest, is that it screams "functionality." It's all about engineering and nothing about art.

At best, it's an architectural tease. The hungry eye is drawn up the soaring, arching legs only to be jolted by encrusted, spiky antennae and a visually disruptive platform beneath the final spire.

It's almost an anti-icon, which, I suppose, is better than nothing.

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