Architectural Agency

Joshua Ramus
Founding Principal
REX Architecture, New York City

No building typology has so radically ruptured the status quo of the urban environment as the skyscraper. And none has so quickly been enslaved by convention, its rote universality leveling context. Tower design is predominantly a normative reaction to a priori development concerns. However, if architectural agency is acknowledged and engaged in the definition of first development principles, design can be proactive. It can salve/solve financial exposure, contractual tensions, schedule constraints, limited local building capabilities, and even difficult cultural norms. Exploring these root challenges with a critical naiveté yields designs that are so strategically and functionally specific—so effectively unconventional—that they also offer profoundly unique aesthetic experiences. While not “looking like their surroundings,” such designs are nonetheless enablers of new, tailored opportunities for their built and social environs, and hence deeply contextual. This presentation discussed several tower projects, each of which (sometimes literally) turns conventional high-rise development on its head.

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