'Castle in the Air'



New Yorker

has set its eyes (or rather two pairs of eyes) on the

Burj Khalifa

to wonderful effect.

Hendrik Hertzberg

, calling the building the "Burj formerly known as Dubai".

Paul Goldberger

, the magazine's architecture correspondent, writes

(which he calls "a cross between Hong Kong and Las Vegas that tries to operate as if it were Switzerland").

<b>Some excerpts</b>: "The tower is a shimmering silver needle, its delicacy as startling as its height. You would think that anything this huge would dominate the sky, but the Burj Khalifa punctuates it instead."<br/>
Photo caption: People take photos in front of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai on January 26, 2010. Randi Sokoloff / The National
"[T]he design has an aesthetic virtue, too, giving the Burj Khalifa, for all its twenty-first-century ingenuity, a lyrical profile that calls to mind the skyscrapers of eighty or ninety years ago. The defining towers of the New York sky line, at least before the Second World War, were skinny compared with today's skyscrapers, and their vertical lines gave intense visual pleasure."

"The profile of the Burj has a magnetism that is lacking in almost every other super-tall building of our time. Furthermore, the tower doesn't indulge in the showy engineering tricks that have become so common today; it doesn't get wider as it rises, or lean to one side, or appear to be made of broken shards. There is something appealing about a building that relies on the most advanced engineering but doesn't flaunt it."

"The Burj Khalifa, like most super-tall skyscrapers, looks best from afar, and, certainly, it can't do much to mitigate the real horror of Dubai, which isn't the fact that most of the towers look gaudy on the sky line but that they are wretched at street level. This is a city that has grown with utter hostility to the idea of the street. The main commercial thoroughfare, Sheikh Zayed Road, lined with skyscrapers, is a twelve-lane highway. It's impossible to get anywhere here without a car, and there is no place to walk except inside a mall."

"You don't build this kind of skyscraper to house people, or to give tourists a view, or even, necessarily, to make a profit. You do it to make sure the world knows who you are."
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