Phallacy

Is that a banana in your skyline…or are you just happ—no, no. It’s definatly a banana. Hopefully, allegations that the tower is a to scale version of developer Sandor Shapery’s anatomy are unfounded.

Unfortunately for the residents of San Diego, I doubt the project will be built as long as Shapery offers this defense of his design:

“The whole concept is it’s really an organic form with no angles. Everything is flowing and rounded,” Shapery said. “People aren’t really looking at what the building is really about.”

Riiiiight….last time I checked penises (at least the organic ones) were carbon-based. And regardless of the internal functions, there’s no reason the building facade must feature an engorged top.

Plus the project architect, C.W. Kim, chips in with some arrogance:

Kim said the goal was to create a unique building. “You know, it’s the mediocre buildings that anyone can do. Anyone can do a square building,” Kim said.

Way to embrace the stereotype dude.

Of course, I may be wrong about the project’s prospects. Several of the commenters on this article at Treehugger think phallic buildings are super. Now, I mostly agree that the tower is just a shape and there’s nothing inherently wrong with a shape. (I say “mostly” since the enlarged tip of Shapery’s building goes too far in my opinion.)

However, their arguments are phallacious (ha ha) because height is imbued with meaning. This is why the CEO’s office is always depicted as the penthouse. As a building becomes more linear, it can represent greater extremes and a finer gradient of power within an organization — saying you worked your way to the top from the mailroom is a lot less meaningful if the “top” is actually down the hall. Similarly, knowing you’re one of 30 middle-managers is different than knowing there’s 23 middle-managers between you and the boss. Power inevitably has a spatial dimension, but skyscrapers exaggerate it.

Beyond the symbolism, it’s also true that people are less likely to communicate as often if they have to traverse stairs or elevators to do so — the office 10 feet above yours is much, much further away that the one 10 feet to the right. To the degree that your organization is a network that relies on communication, the skyscraper is not an asset.

Note that while the problem with phallic buildings is they promote hierarchy, this is not because building = penis = man = hierarchal social relations. It’s just a bad shape for a building without even getting into the politics of representation of penises.

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