The address above is actually a really nice metaphor. The “picket fence” it refers to is the chain formed by the world’s tallest buildings. Add “center_of_india.html” to the end of the address and take a look at an artist’s rendering of what some day might be the world’s tallest structure, at 677 meters. There’s a definite whoa! factor in the depiction that’ll make you surf off in pursuit of more information about the Center of India Tower. But so far all it is is the day dream of the guy whom the Beatles once traveled to India to meditate with.
This is the rather down-to-earth home page of the Petronas Twin Towers, the buildings that currently reach highest into the sky. But it only lists raw data to describe the wonder, passing up mankind’s only opportunity to nest a Web cam on a 452-meter perch — and let the whole world sigh a collective whoa! while looking down on Kuala Lumpur.
The S, O and M in the address above are the initials of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the architecture firm whose Sears Tower was beat out as the world’s tallest by the Petronas Towers. But SOM’s architects plan to climb back on top of the world in 2004 with another Chicago structure. Check out the new design concepts and architectural advancements that will help 7 South Dearborn, at 610 meters, make the term “skyscraper” less figurative.
OK, so you’re not a meditation guru, a Chicago architect, or even a Malaysian construction worker, but you still want to impress the hell out of your friends with your grasp of the stars. So after dinner and generous libations one night you sit them in front of your computer and click over to Heavens Above, which after a few more clicks will tell you what satellites are orbiting directly above your neighborhood or what constellations might be in view from your balcony on a clear night. Not as much fun as summer hanabi, but you gotta justify the cost of that computer somehow.
Back on Earth, here in Japan, the architects of Japan Inc. seem to be reaching for the moon with a novel building material — debt. Teikoku Data Bank keeps track of much of the private sector’s debt through its monthly and yearly bankruptcy reports. They’re all posted here, in English, along with news reports, analyses, financial lists and other information that is becomingly increasingly crucial as Japan’s old boys’ network comes closer to losing its war against globalization. Teikoku’s site is a refreshingly clear window onto an otherwise muddied business culture.
But what do you do with these monstrosities after they’ve served their purpose? Well, with the less ambitious high rises you can blow them up. Here, a 1957 21-story Florida hotel goes kaboom over the Internet via Real or Quicktime (be patient). The actual implosion, which drew a crowd of 2,000, came in 1998.