Kevin Murphy Addresses the Skyscraper and Future of Urban Development

skyscrapersGeorge Washington had Mount Vernon. Thomas Jefferson had Monticello. Now President-elect Donald Trump has his eponymous Manhattan skyscraper, Trump Tower. Our first and third presidents saw their plantations as both productive and symbolic of American identity that was rooted in the land itself. President-elect Trump looks out from his tower onto a dense, dynamic cityscape that represents American capitalism.

Washington lavished huge amounts of attention and money on building and furnishing Mount Vernon. Jefferson spent practically his entire adult life constructing, expanding and renovating Monticello. Trump Tower is loaded with polished metal and stone and clad in reflective glass. Will it stand just for the questionable taste of the one percent, or could it stimulate more creative, sustainable approaches to urban development? Read more

*Kevin D. Murphy is Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities and Professor and Chair of Department of History of Art at Vanderbilt University. His article originally appeared on The Conversation (December 6, 2016) and was reprinted in the PBS News Hour Column (December 7) and the Business Insider (December 8).

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