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Skyscrapers Are Not 'Long,' They're Tall

This building wouldn't be the 'longest in the world,' because that's not a thing.

by Harry Cheadle
30 March 2017, 4:00am

Rendering via Oiio Studio

This article originally appeared on VICE US. 

This week, an architecture firm announced that it wants to build a giant paperclip-shaped building in New York City, provided someone gives it the money to do so. If built, the "Big Bend" would be sort of like the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, except people would live in it. It would be about 2,000 feet tall, more than 200 feet taller than One World Trade, the city's current tallest building. The "Big Bend" would also, according to the media coverage it's gotten, be 4,000 feet "long."

This is fucking stupid.

The construction of another luxury building in Manhattan that the world's oligarchs can use to park their money is not really newsworthy, even if it would make the skyline look a little more futuristic. The issue here is the word "long." Skyscrapers are not "long." The architecture firm's site asks, "What if our buildings were long instead of tall?" No. Buildings are tall. You can build a structure that is shaped like an upside-down U, but that doesn't mean that it is "long." It's 2,000 feet tall. That's fine. It doesn't need to be "long." It's NOT long. Stop saying it's long.

In fairness, how we decide to measure things is somewhat arbitrary, but once a unit of measurement has been agreed upon that is how the thing is judged. The size of cities is generally based on population or area, not the number of buildings inside them. Human beings are heavy or tall, not wide. When you want to talk about how big your house is, you refer to square feet, not how many golden retrievers you could conceivably cram into it. No one gives a shit about how "long" a skyscraper is, because, again, that is fucking stupid. Like, if you theoretically stretched out the Big Bend into a straight line it would be longer than the straight line of any other building? What? Sorry if this is not making sense. I feel like I'm going insane.

Here is Wikipedia's list of the world's longest structures. The top ones are ancient walls, but there are also plenty of airports "longer" than the Big Bend. Not that anyone cares, because skyscrapers are not "long," they're tall. If anyone builds this thing, it will be the tallest building in New York, which is still pretty good. Thank you.

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