Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Nature's Worst Locales May Inspire Mankind's Best Architecture - Part I

What is it about the world's least hospitable environments that inspires some of mankind's most creative and bold architecture? The answer in Part II, but for now, prime examples.

Molten Eagle readers may recall the dramatically unbelievable photo and story of the Tennis Court at Burj Al Arab in September. No matter that it was actually a helicopter landing pad of immense architectural inspiration, tennis greats Andre Agassi and Roger Federer used it as the world’s highest tennis court ( 28th floor -almost 300 feet above ground).

Equal in its leap of imaginative functionality if not outright design is the Grand Canyon Skywalk (pictured above), set to be unveiled this month.

Proposed by tour operator David Jin for tours of the Grand Canyon's westernmost side, it was welcomed by the Hualapai tribe, who tapped Los Vegas architect Mark Johnson for the design. The Skywalk has six-foot-tall glass walls, a glass-view bottom, is built for a claimed load factor of 71 million pounds (the weight of 71-jumbo jetliners) to withstand winds over 100 miles per hour, and endure an 8.0-magnitude earthquake within a 50-mile radius. Still, says Johnson, "it's going to take some courage to step out there. Looking through a glass floor is intense." The Colorado River, of course, is 4,000 feet below.

KTNV-Action News says, "The financial future of the Hualapai is tied to tourism. They are not a gaming tribe."

And for those of you doubters who still believe it is an "urban legend," Snopes says, Status: True.


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