The Spire Might Be Dead, But Its Brand Will Live On | Bleader

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Spire Might Be Dead, But Its Brand Will Live On

Posted By on 10.12.10 at 06:41 PM

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If you are a connoisseur of pretentious videos about nonexistent buildings, I recommend watching the short movie on the website for the now-doomed Chicago Spire. In slow-motion, the clip depicts the tallest building that never was nor, apparently, ever will be, shining and gleaming like the beacon of hope it would have become. As Disney-style background music swells, wispy clouds drift past and night descends, turning architect Santiago Calatrava's skyscraper into a skyline-dominating sparkle stick. Make sure to watch the vid—I'm calling it "Potemkin Tower"— in full-screen mode, to maximize the experience.

Though tacky and dumb, the video's kind of the perfect metaphor for what the American economy is all about these days: the branding and promoting of things that don't actually exist, at least not in the physical world.

Though the money's not there and it's just a big hole in the ground, the Spire isn't actually dead-dead. It lives on as an idea—a subject for students of architecture and urban planning to write papers about, and for snapshot-taking tourists to lament, and for the Beanie Babies guy to curse for a good long while, because it's not like he can live in a hole in the ground. No spectacular views from that vantage point. Beanie Babies guy and other optimists who bought condos in the Spire will now have to go apartment hunting again, which is a time-consuming and annoying process. My heart goes out to them—I hope they'll be OK.

In addition to living on through the process of legacy-building—which, come to think of it, can be a lot cheaper than bricks-and-mortar building—the Spire will always live on the Internet, as long as the Internet always exists (it will). It has a Facebook page (no updates in two years, though) and a Photobucket, and a Wikipedia page. Given that America's economy is now based solely upon Facebook status messages, tweets, and high-fructose coffee drinks, instead of jobs, tangible goods, or hard cash, this isn't the worst outcome.

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