Week of October 11, 1999
  Editor's Choice Web Pick
   of the Week

'World's Tallest Buildings' Site:
A Delightfully Quirky Take on Sky-High Structures

"Very tall buildings enter into a realm that many cultures consider sacred.
In my native Spanish, 'sky' and 'heaven' are the same word."

- Cesar Pelli, Architect

If that build-'em-big cosmic quote (from one of the world's most renowned architects, no less) is your sort of thing, this delightful quirky site could be one for you. It's the World's Tallest Buildings site (www.worldstallest.com), and these folks are major-league serious about buildings that are at least 1,000 feet (305 meters) tall.

In fact, this site is flat-out obsessed with tall buildings. Nonetheless, it gets high marks the quality of its content. There's so much content, in fact, that you'll likely be best served during your visit by pushing the "up button" on the clever elevator icons featured on the site's home page. A push of that button will provide a detailed site overview that will make it a lot easier to navigate to the content in which you're most interested.

'Headlines' Section Scans the Latest in Big Building News

For example, the Ground Floor icon (labeled, of course, as "G") will take you to the WTB site's "News Headlines" section, which contains some meaty updates on tall building projects around the world.

During our site test drive, the dozen or so headline reports included an update on the proposed 7 Dearborn Street project in Chicago, which would create the world's tallest building (see the Site Selection Online Insider's "Snapshot from the Field" for September 27, 1999); a report on the scale-back of the height of the Taipei International Financial Center; and the resurrection of plans for Melbourne's Grollo Tower.

This section of the site also touches on the intriguingly bizarre aspects of the tall buildings' edifice complex. For example, you'll find there a wealth of content (and videos) on Alain Robert, the French "Spiderman" who recently climbed Chicago's Sears Tower using only a hook attached to a cloth belt. (The tall building-obsessed Robert, by the way, measures on 5 feet, 2 inches.)

Most of the Headlines content is comprised of linked material taken from other sources (which are dutifully credited). You'll find many of those information sources' valuable in their own right. In fact, the WTB site as a whole ranks high for the quality of the content to which it links. And the site helpfully groups its entire collection of links together under the category of "WTB Links Pages."

Net-Zine Offers Original Content

The WTB site also offers some strong original content, most of it taken from WTB Magazine, a "Net-zine" of essays and photos that exists only on this Web site.

The Net-zine provides some interesting hard data, such as a listing of the world's 500 tallest buildings. And this site is obsessive enough about the subject that it includes listings of the world's tallest buildings by decade, spanning the 1920s to the present. (Be advised, though, that the latest update of the WTB Magazine's "Hot 500 List" was in June of 1999.)

The Net-zine also provides some solid "Road Trip" features, including an essay/photo profile of a tour of New York City, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur that took in eight of the buildings that currently rank among the world's 10 tallest. Other solid photo essays include a report on the Emirates Tower and the Chicago Beach Resort Hotel, both in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Disclaimer: 'Surgeon General [Says] Skyscraper
Climbing Is Hazardous To Your Health'

WTB Magazine also offers an interview with yet another "Spiderman," Dan Goodwin, who's scaled four of the world's tallest structures.

Admittedly, we were a bit concerned about yet another feature on a gonzo scaler. The Goodwin interview, however is preceded by the following cheeky "Disclaimer . . . for the Judgmentally Impaired"

"By the appearance of this feature material, WTB does not endorse or condone illegal or dangerous behavior," says the disclaimer. "Put more simply, YOU are solely responsible for your own actions, intelligent or otherwise -- a radical concept, we realize, in late 20th century America. The Surgeon General has determined skyscraper climbing is hazardous to your health. Do NOT try this at home, or anywhere else!" Fair, and responsible, enough.

One True Believer's DIY Aesthetic

Other areas of WTB Magazine that you may find interesting are "Skidmore Owings & Merrill's Skyscraper Models," and "the WTB Fantasy Skyline," the latter a manipulated photo that places 12 of the world's tallest buildings side by side along Chicago's Lake Michigan shoreline.

WTB's graphic interfaces also mesh well throughout the site. But perhaps the most impressive facet of this site is its DIY (Do It Yourself) aesthetic. This site is apparently the brainchild of one lone true believer, Jeff Herzer of St. Joseph, Mo.

For one guy to pull this off is pretty amazing (and with what appears to be almost no commercial support). Equally refreshing is the rationale for the site, which Herzer explains in "The Author's Apartment" section of the site. Turns out, he created this site simply because he's fascinated by tall buildings.

"A tall building will mesmerize, hypnotize and seduce -- even King Kong couldn't resist the pull," Herzer writes. "And each tall building has a personality, a spirit of its own." Toward that end, the site has a vintage black-and-white photo of the 1933 incarnation of King Kong, Fay Wray in hand, atop the Empire State Building.

And even King Kong gets a link.



©1999 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.