When I first began processing the Council On Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) I expected, well lots of tall buildings. What I wasn’t expecting to find was Marilyn Monroe, Spider Man, and hotel rooms. Yet as I worked my way through the multitude of slides and visual formats included in this collection, there was Marilyn Monroe in all her glory, her slide placed neatly in order next to skyscrapers and high rises, as if nothing were out of place. So naturally I needed to discover what these slides were doing in this collection?
It just so happens that the famous “skirt” photo of Marilyn Monroe provides an excellent visual example of updraft, a vertical movement of wind involved with the design of tall buildings. As for Spider Man, what tall building hasn’t he climbed on his superhero adventures through New York City? And the seemingly ordinary looking hotel room happens to be one of the earliest examples of pre-fabricated modular construction used in skyscraper hotels.
What I’ve learned through my experiences with the CTBUH slides is that I never know what I may discover in this collection. While something may not immediately seem relevant, it’s part of my job to look past appearances and discover what significance these pieces hold, and how they relate to the rest of the collection. In addition, these unusual examples help to remind me of the importance of this collection, and what it once was. These slides were once used in presentations, viewed by some of the preeminent civil engineers of the time, and I’m sure that just as it caught my attention, a slide of Marilyn Monroe was able to catch the attention of conference goers and bring a new light to the issue of updraft.
By Gregory Edwards