Oftentimes when evaluating issues behind building failures, claims or disputes, those of us working on the forensic side of things find that a major driver of various concerns is something we call a “story problem.”
In other words, the story behind the evolution of the building’s design and construction is just as relevant as the observable physical evidence. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for the “he said, she said” elements of a project become the most important considerations when evaluating various claims.
Which is why I was so fascinated to see this story by Luke Fiederer at ArchDaily on the stories behind 10 skyscrapers that changed the landscape of their respective locales:
Formally, the Robot Building is a simple stack of boxes with setbacks necessitated by building regulations. While its massing is unremarkable the same cannot be said for its ornamentation: a pair of lightning rods resemble futuristic antennae, enormous metal circles fixed to the side façades look like bolts, and a pair of large circular windows form the robot’s eyes, complete with sunshade eyelids. Adding to the overall sense of whimsy, the eyes are designed to wink in time with a composition by Thai composer Jacques Bekaert entitled “Robot Symphony.”
The Bank of Asia Headquarters’ robotic aesthetic, purportedly derived from a toy owned by Jumsai’s son, carried symbolic intent beyond mere fantasy. The choice of a robot was, according to Jumsai, meant to reflect the increasing computerization of the banking industry during the 1980s; that the robot appeared benign evoked the friendlier aspects of technology. Aside from serving as a commentary on computerization, the Robot Building was also Jumsai’s personal counterpoint to the rise of the Postmodern style toward the end of the 20th Century, which he decried as a protest seeking to “replace without offering a replacement.” Exactly how Jumsai would categorize his own designs is unclear, but there is no question that the Robot Building remains one of the most peculiar skyscrapers ever to have been built.