Eric Owen Moss introduces Jean-Louis Cohen.
Jean-Louis Cohen reviews the discourse of skyscrapers that emerged in Chicago in the 1880s. He tracts the skyscraper’s eastward migration to New York, and subsequently to Europe. He reflects on how quickly skyscrapers became part of contemporary visual and social culture, and even literature.
Cohen discusses the development skyscraper discourse in early twentieth century Europe, as it evolved out of the Chicago and New York influences. He discusses projects by Mies Van der Rohe, Adolf Loos, Le Corbusier, and the Soviet avant-garde, among others.
Cohen describes the emergence of a new discourse of skyscrapers in the 1980s in places such as Pacific Rim cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai. He argues these competitive tower projects arise where there is a struggle for legitimization and symbolic hegemony. Cohen concludes the lecture by stating the importance of the inscription of skyscrapers in popular culture. He proposes that skyscrapers embody fear, while simultaneously remaining markers of optimism.