News Item: the Los Angeles City Council has rescinded a long-standing ordinance requiring all high-rise buildings in the downtown area to have rooftop helipads. When the ordinance was in effect, all downtown buildings were flat-headed in design to accommodate the helipads. The result was a skyline of monotonous uniformity and "architectural mediocrity," according to the New York Times.
There is only one way to provide an adequate commentary on this situation: A Greek tragedy.
SCENE: LATE NIGHT IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES. A GREEK CHORUS, MADE UP ENTIRELY OF FLAT-HEADED BUILDINGS, CHANTS IN UNISON.
CHORUS OF FLAT-HEADED BUILDINGS:
Oh, misfortune! Our reign has come to a sorry end.
Gone is our skyline, unique in all the world, of uniform flatness.
Gone, alas, are the days when ‘copters swarmed us
The way butterflies swarm poppy fields. No more to hear
The sweet sound of chop-chop-chop-chubba-chubba-chop-chop.
Goodbye, copters! Goodbye cops! Farewell, first responders in MedEvacs!
For the Chief Fireman has said, in his annoying nasal voice,
‘Go not to rooftops any more, oh thou office workers of LA!
People in emergencies should stay put, and wait for help.'
What kind of poppycock is that? Does this mean
That choppers are never more to land on our flat, bald heads,
Each with a target for helicopters marked "X" in the center,
Seen by none but birds, planes, God and Google Earth?
No more will high-rise buildings look like us, the flat-headed tribe.
The next generation won't have that special look -- that is to say,
The look of a bunch of wooden boards at the hardware store,
Standing upright, that nobody has bought.
Enter THE TRANSAMERICA TOWER, a famous pointy-headed building from San Francisco.
Oh, go ahead and moan, you inane band of overgrown cigar boxes.
Snivel, if you want. You're through. The future belongs to sharper shapes.
Just as skyscrapers with syringe-like tops were the toast of Manhattan
In the Golden Age, so once again pin-head buildings will come to rule
Your snoozefest of a skyline.
Insult added to injury! You pyramidal monstrosity, come to torment us
Just when we're feeling totally like we can't deal.
TRANSAMERICA TOWER (being really obnoxious)
But deal you must. This is progress, enlightenment, artistic freedom!
Face it, anvil-brains, you don't stack up when compared with Tokyo
Or all those Chinese cities with their pointy tower things. Boring, boring!
You can laugh and scorn, you irresponsible pinhead!
You, who never shouldered any social responsibility.
Our very heads spoke of preparedness.
Yes, and for that reason, you get no standout buildings by the Starchitects,
Those favorites of Zeus and Hera, who got them jobs with the other gods.
What bosh! Know ye not that we are of the International Style?
Just as the Seagram Building by Mies van der Rohe, and its wife,
the green-skinned Lever House by Skidmore Owings Merrill,
The legendary New York pair that gave birth to all the office buildings
that came after them, were both flat of brow?
What say you of that, you much-derided pinhead!
Don't remind me of my poor reception when first built!
Though I stand by the Bay, I was by designed by an Angeleno,
The hard-partying Bill Pereira. Now I am a symbol of San Francisco!
Take that, you derivative clump of banalities!
ENTER the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, a recent building in Baku, Azerbajian by Zaha Hadid.
This exquisite building, widely portrayed in published photos during recent months, is elliptically curved in profile.
HEYDAR ALIYEV CULTURE CENTRE (with a slightly husky voice):
Hey boys, stop fighting. You're not just wrong, you're stuck in the past.
Look at my beauty and be struck speechless as Buster Keaton.
Flat, pointed, who cares? It's irrelevant.
You look like a woman in a head-scarf
Standing in a strong breeze. I think we are in love.
TRANSAMERICA BUILDING (to HEYDAR ALIYEV CULTURAL CENTER)
You call us irrelevant? You're from Azerbajian, for crying out loud.
The client is a dictator who builds what he wants, regardless of cost.
Plus, you're a cultural center, not an office building, so you don't count.
And you were designed by Zaha Hadid. Her office buildings
On the whole, have flat tops!
HEYDAR ALIYEV CULTURAL CENTER:
All true. I'm just making a point, you pecan-brained dinosaurs.
The future can be flat, pointed or free-form like me.
The point is that LA can enjoy some variety, and catch up
With the skyline of a second-tier Chinese city, maybe, if it tries.
As for Tokyo or Dubai, however … oh, just give up now.
CHORUS OF FLAT-TOP BUILDINGS (highly offended):
You decadent hussy! Irrational product of extravagance and waste!
HEYDAR ALIYEV CULTURAL CENTER:
Don't try to fluster me with your bluster, bub.
Like the song says, you ain't so big, you're just tall, that's all.