Mies van der Rohe must be turning over in his grave. The “International style” of glass and steel skyscraper he perfected and which now forms an integral part of Manhattan Island’s iconic skyline has been criticized before on aesthetic grounds. But never has any New Yorker, much less the city’s mayor, called for a ban on the construction of such buildings — until now.
On Monday, Bill de Blasio unveiled his Green New Deal for New York in which he declared that glass-and-steel skyscrapers “have no place on our Earth.” His beef with such buildings, according to Fox News, is that they are the “biggest source of carbon emissions” in the city.
Only they aren’t, at least not any more. As David Nicholson-Cole, who teaches architecture at the University of Nottingham, wrote at The Conversation in 2016, the glass exteriors that once trapped the sun’s rays during summer and hemorrhaged heat during the winter have been abandoned in favor of an “outer skin of glass wrapping around the real building within – to maintain glassiness and permit daylight, while improving insulation and resistance to solar gain.”
“Today’s new skyscrapers are the most energy-efficient in history,” adds the New York Post, citing “developers such as Larry Silverstein, Douglas Durst and the Related Companies” who “proudly, and justifiably, tout their energy-conserving features to appeal to tenants.”
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But de Blasio doesn’t want to stop at just banning a skyscraper design that is no longer in use. He wants to retrofit extant buildings in the Big Apple. Apparently, he never got the message from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that the sillier parts of her Green New Deal, which included refitting every structure in the U.S., had been tabled.
Neither evidently did he look at the price tag for retrofitting the Empire State Building in 2012 to make it more energy-efficient. The overhaul resulted in an energy savings of $2.4 million. But the cost of project was a staggering $550 million. If the same were done to all 6,486 skyscrapers in New York, the cost would be $2.3 trillion.
Perhaps in the interests of practicing what he preaches, de Blasio could find a gym closer to Gracie Mansion to work out in. Currently, his motorcade, consisting of gas-guzzling vans, shuttles him to a Brooklyn gym so that he can feel “connected” with his neighbors in civilian life.