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  #1  
Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 6:11 AM
CaliNative CaliNative is offline
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How Should Skylines be Ranked? Plus Give Your Top 10 City Skylines in U.S. & World

Is beauty more important than total number of skyscrapers? How about number of super-talls in a skyline?

My rankings (unbiased I hope--I play no favorites)

In U.S.: 1. New York City; 2. Chicago; 3-7. L.A.-S.F.-Houston-Miami-Philadelphia (tied); 8. Dallas; 9. Atlanta; 10. Seattle-Boston-Las Vegas (tie)

World: 1-3. Hong Kong-New York-Shanghai (tied); 4-5. Dubai-Chicago (tie); 6. Toronto; 7. Tokyo; 8. Kuala Lampur; 9. Melbourne; 10. Sydney-Seoul-L.A.-S.F.-Houston-Miami-Philadelphia-Manila-London-Moscow-Beijing-Nanjing-Chongking (tie)

(A BIT of bias--San Diego has a lovely skyline, but because of height limits it tops out at 500'. But very beautiful and impressive, especially from Coronado across the bay)

I reserve the right to change the above lists. Did I leave out some Asian cities that should be there? Indian cities? Middle eastern cities? Latin American? Yes, maybe Sao Paulo belongs on the list. Impressive # of tall buildings, but no super-talls yet. My most controversial listing may be Las Vegas. But the strip skyline is a wonder at night, if somewhat kitschy. Fun though.

Last edited by CaliNative; Jun 25, 2017 at 6:39 AM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 6:26 AM
mhays mhays is offline
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Setting is also important.

So is the bleacher effect....if a tower starts 100' or 300' above ground, it'll show up more.
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 6:42 AM
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Originally Posted by mhays View Post
Setting is also important.

So is the bleacher effect....if a tower starts 100' or 300' above ground, it'll show up more.
You might be right. Should San Francisco allow taller buildings on top of Nob & Russian Hill?
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 7:16 AM
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This is all too subjective really, but you might be able to come up with some sort of weighted score that indexed total height, median height, bleacher effect / tiering, natural setting, night lighting, style and era representation, plus some sort of pizzazz intangible score. I don't know how you'd take "clusterization" in to account or whether to penalize or reward nodular skylines vs. one central clump. Again, it's all pretty subjective outside the height stats.

My favorite American skylines are Pittsburgh's and Seattle's; I enjoy looking at them as overall aesthetic units even more than I do NY or Chicago. On the flip side, I don't enjoy Miami's skyline at all, because I don't like skylines predominantly made of residential with exposed balconies. Outside of natural setting, neither Pittsburgh nor Seattle would score near the tops on any of the possible indexes I listed off above, while Miami would score better overall and even score highly on natural setting. So my own ranking system wouldn't accurately reflect my favorites.
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 1:12 PM
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Density is also an essential trait (again). I find skylines whose skyscrapers are densely packed look better and more impressive than towers scattered here and there at intervals.

It's also significant to have boulevards walled by high-rises, which is spectacular. This is not directly related to a skyline proper, but it obviously affects the look of it, making it denser.

The only benefit of building towers that would be remote from one another is views, but that tends to feed NIMBYism. People protect their views, which is abusive when they don't own what's around their properties. Views are nothing that you could ever regard as private properties, and they're completely insignificant, if not harmful from an urban planning standpoint.

Now the problem with density, for there's got to be at least one, is natural light is almost like luxury when an urban fabric is really dense. That is the case in Manhattan and in Central Paris, for instance. You're often suck in the shadows of buildings and façades all around in these dense cities.
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 1:41 PM
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Overall shape is important. Quality of towers. Also that the towers are given enough space you can see how many there are (something like Ottawa where they're all crammed together with no breathing room means that like 90% are lost at any angle). Natural topography helps too.

Absolute height is of little importance (relative heights matter far more). Total number is only mildly important (however a city is much more than the skyline, and a larger number of towers tends to indicate a more urban city).
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 1:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beedok View Post

Absolute height is of little importance (relative heights matter far more). Total number is only mildly important (however a city is much more than the skyline, and a larger number of towers tends to indicate a more urban city).
Its all about street life for me. A city is nothing without dynamic street life. It can have all the highrises and skyscrapers in the world, but if it's boring on a street level, it sucks period.

Now when you get a city with a nice skyline, and dynamic street life... it's the best.
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 3:37 PM
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San Diego flies under the radar, probably a top 10. Water or access to it is important, IMO. LA is impressive, but the natural surroundings is lacking. Not too many downtowns are located on a bay front with ocean cruise liners, air craft carriers, a NAS, Coast Guard helicopters and an international airport adjacent to a beautiful skyline.

I don't mind the height limit too much as downtown continues to fill in with numerous high rise projects instead of one or two monsters. Super talls are only good when viewing from far away.

1) NY
2) Chicago
3) Boston
4) SF
5) Miami or Seattle
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 3:53 PM
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Super talls are like whip cream atop of a really good latte. The skyline needs to be aesthetically good for them to really work (aesthetically) and in the right location. Think of them as seasoning to a really good dish. But if the dish is bad to begin with, it will be out of place.

The super tall addition to SF for example, really adds a new dynamic to the skyline. It complements it. Doesn't look out of place nor does it ruin the skyline. LA's new supertall again, has that perfect touch to an already balanced skylined. NY has the buffer of the skyline mass, and what's going on really doesn't stick out in a negative way.

What is bad now, is a lone super tall that looks like it was just plopped out there. IMO, a gradual progression of height and mass makes a super tall look its best aesthetically. In other words, its not the design that really makes a tower have an impact, but how it interacts with its surroundings.
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 4:06 PM
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^ In regards to what you are saying even though not a super tall (it looks like one) the Devon tower in OKC looks out of balance in regards to the rest of the skyline.


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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 4:50 PM
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For Canada, in order of my personal preference...

1. Toronto (of course)
2. Montreal (of course)
3. Detroit (I know its cheating but its arguably best admired from Canada)
4. Calgary (nice how its situated in a curve on the Bow)
5. Vancouver (nice density but nothing really stands out among all the buildings)
6. Quebec City (simple, but nice old buildings like Chateau Frontenac and Edifice Price really stand out)
7. Edmonton (will look more impressive in a few years now that the height restriction has been abolished)
8. Winnipeg (nothing really impressive, but the cluster of highrises at Portage and Main and the Human Rights Musem is nice)
9. Regina (really punches above its weight for only 250,000)
10. Niagara Falls (also punches above its weight for under 100,000)
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  #12  
Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 5:03 PM
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How impressive a skyline is relates to how you can seat. Waterfront skylines, e.g. Miami, Chicago, Seattle, are most impressive when viewed from the water. Even NYC is generally "viewed" from a water perspective. But most of the time the viewer, the resident, is not on the water. So in my view it is more important to have various views of the skyline spring up from various perspectives while driving or walking around.
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 5:06 PM
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Quality is much more important. Just like a painting, things like balance, unity, color, and form really matter.

IMO New York hasn't had the best skyline in the US since the 70's when it was surpassed by Chicago. Now, even San Francisco has a better skyline since they added Salesforce and 181 Fremont.

Too many supertalls just get to be overwhelming and supertalls have to be of high-quality in order to work well.
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 5:26 PM
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I may be biased (especially considering it's my hometown) but I feel that Los Angeles gets a lot of flack for not having the largest skyline relative to it's size. However, the skyline it does have is one of the more aesthetically pleasing skylines on the planet. The US Bank Tower being the tallest building* placed directly in the middle of the skyline, as well as the mountains in the background, create something special.



*Fully aware of Wilshire Grand btw. Points go to that building for not throwing the balance off on the skyline. Quantity doesn't really make a skyline as much as the quality of the buildings. Dubai has skyscrapers here and yonder but they are not really attractive. Not even slightly aside from a scant few. Have you seen Jumeriah Beach Residences? Hot garbage. Tropical commie blocks.

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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 5:35 PM
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Dubai doesn't belong on this list at all really.

The skyline is poorly designed, filled with tacky towers and it's extremely lopsided, decentralized and badly proportioned. I wouldn't even put it in the top 50 skylines of the world.
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 6:53 PM
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I like residential-dominated skylines like Miami and Vancouver. These tend to be skinnier buildings, and something about balconies might subconsciously remind me of the life inside them. We might overly fetishize the residential component of urban cores as being the top factor, but some of that might be in my head too.

A skyline shouldn't be a series of individual towers, and there shouldn't be chasms...LA viewed from some angles has a chasm for every cross street. That suggests depth vs. just a row or two along a major street or waterfront. It also favors cities where the grid changes or there isn't a grid. A hillside helps add depth (short buildings in the back can be seen) and even the street itself becomes part of the view. Or you can be Manhattan where there's depth from nearly any perspective.

A skyline should also be long. I'm not impressed with the "volcano" shape. Sometimes good skylines are shown from angles I don't like, like LA above, Seattle from the south, Pittsburgh from the west, or Lower Manhattan from the south. A long skyline with depth plus some visual interest can be fantastic, especially with a sizeable residential component.
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 7:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliNative View Post
You might be right. Should San Francisco allow taller buildings on top of Nob & Russian Hill?
San Francisco DOES allow taller buildings on its hills although Nob and Russian Hills have been pretty well built out for decades (You will note there are several prominent residential towers on both hills from the 1950s/60s). The new development on Rincon Hill, however, is the premier example of this policy and building on Cathedral Hill is another example.

This is principle #2 of the city's Urban Design Plan:

Quote:
Street layouts and building forms which do not emphasize topography reduce the clarity of the city form and image.

A: Tall, slender buildings at the tops of hills and low buildings on the slopes and in valleys accentuate the form of the hills.

B: Contour streets on hills align buildings to create a pattern of strong horizontal bands that conflict with the hill form . . . .
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  #18  
Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 7:46 PM
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Originally Posted by The North One View Post
supertalls have to be of high-quality in order to work well.
I am forced to agree. I always thought the old WTC detracted from the NY skyline, though I like the new one much better. But now NY is putting up several residential supertalls I dislike just as much or more than the original WTC.
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 7:49 PM
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Originally Posted by The North One View Post
Dubai doesn't belong on this list at all really.

The skyline is poorly designed, filled with tacky towers and it's extremely lopsided, decentralized and badly proportioned. I wouldn't even put it in the top 50 skylines of the world.
Who "designs" skylines?
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2017, 8:01 PM
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It's a byproduct of chance and luck. But... developers and architects have their role in it. Overtime, good design and a bit of randomness (probability) can make for a good skyline.
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