Form Follows Finance AND Function

Form Follows Finance, by Carol Willis

If you enjoyed The Atlantics article How Sky Scrapers Can Save the City boy do I have the book for you!

Form Follows Finance, by Carol Willis and published in 1995, is a fascinating comparison of how New York and Chicago came to their current physically skyscraper forms. The title, which maybe only an architecture nerd will enjoy, is a fun play on Louis Sullivan’s famous phrase regarding the basis of modern architecture “form follow function,” yet in this scenario the books title applies generally to skyscrapers or whatever is considered a tall building in the given scope of time which the building is constructed.

The book examines New York and Chicago’s skylines development, even though both cities skyscrapers have been developed during the same time, architecturally and spatially they have very different qualities. This is due in part not only to the architects who designed the buildings, but more so due to the each cities individual building code regulations and the developers who choose to put the project together. The book also plunges into the issue regarding our constant push for taller buildings and the financial success or failure which has been historically achieved behind the tallest buildings and other trophy structures. I can almost guarantee that if you have any interest in architecture, development or history you will enjoy this book. I feel the greatest contribution to the reader which this book provides is painting a clear picture about how over the long term, cities regulations will greatly contribute a structures form and finance, even though that structure is built within the private business environment.

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