Architectural Flashing

…and I don’t mean waterproofing.

Heasrt Tower, New York

I’m a big fan of Norman Foster’s buildings, including the Hearst Tower at left, but it seems it has a few glitches — such as the glass escalators, which allow visitors a view up the skirts of riders. As if women didn’t have their hands full contending with the glass ceiling.

The oversight has already inspired a funny NPR segment, and I kind of fear that as word gets out this will become a tourist draw for the tower. Maybe the glass could be tinted?

I don’t suggest this because I’m a prude. Part of life is occasionally seeing more reality than the viewer or viewed intends, whether it be underwear, bulge, crack, or nipple. However, it seems incredibly wrong to force people to display themselves. And I love this line from the New York Magazine feature:

Some editors were concerned enough that they warned members of their staff prone to wearing trendy mini-minidresses or ballooning short skirts to take care to keep their legs closed.

Because you know women, it’s your job to make sure the dude standing beneath the stairs watching you can’t see up your skirt. And besides, if you’re wearing a skirt, you’re obviously a slut who wants men to see anyway. Such Bullshit.

I can’t help but wonder how many women were involved/consulted on this aspect of the project. I suspect very few, though of course these kind of oversights do just happen. But there are fundamental problems with architecture and its habit of marginalizing female users that makes these kinds of oversights likely.

So, previously quoted “editors” you need to warn Foster & Partners (not your employees) that they need to tint, or etch, or sandblast, or paint, or replace the glass escalators or they will face a sexual harassment suit from the thousands of women who have used those stairs.

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