Tall Building Delirium: Second Life of the Metlife Building

Park, Natalie
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For over one hundred thirty years our cities have been serving as urban testing grounds for tall building experiments. Tall Buildings have been the basis for massive urban agglomerations, living far beyond their anticipated lifespan, leaving cities with experimental relics, successful or unsuccessful. As our global cities embrace for growth, tall buildings continue to be used as catalysts for new urban developments, technologies, and economies. The evidential urban fabric lives through a causal existence. Using a triangulation approach to analytical case studies of tall buildings and research compilations, successes found through failures are documented, making the missteps of the past clearer while exposing the solutions that can correct the undoings of the past. Tall buildings of the past pose the potential to remain relevant, contributing members of the urban fabric. Design revelations are demonstrated on the MetLife Building (formally known as the Pan Am Building), an existing tall building in New York City, giving the a second life based on critical theory. The design revelations include aspects of passive strategies, ecological interventions, urban cognizance, energy efficiencies, public space rehabilitation, physiological improvements, and climatic responsiveness. Re-developing and adapting existing tall buildings allows cities to react to current and future challenges with existing infrastructure becoming a sustainable platform for renewal. Existing tall buildings prove to be resilient urban experiments capable of evolutionary transformation.
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