Top 10 unbuilt towers: Hotel Attraction, by Antoni Gaudí
As plans for the mile high Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia are unveiled, London’s Shard is nearly sheathed, and the Walkie-Talkie, Cheesegrater and Pinnacle are all beginning to emerge from the ground, we look back to 10 projects that weren’t quite so fortunate in their bid to make it off the drawing board.
Architect Antoni Gaudi
Location New York City
In 1906, Gaudí was approached by two businessmen with property in New York and asked to design a grand hotel for the site of what would later become the World Trade Centre. They wanted something along the lines of Henry J. Hardenbergh’s Waldorf-Astoria - a vast decorated box, erected in 1893, and talk of the town.
The expressive Catalan sculptor would do no such thing. Instead he proposed a gigantic cluster of parabolic towers, soaring to the height of the Eiffel Tower. It would be a glistening totem to glamorous luxury, smothered with a garish concoction of alabaster, glass, tile and other decorations improvised from debris discovered on New York City’s streets. At its summit would be a flaming sun-shaped observatory - “The Sphere of All Space”.
Within, the hotel would have housed a vertiginous stack of halls and ballrooms, theatres and lecture rooms, encrusted with equally riotous ornament. The central hall would be ringed with galleries and decorated with sculptures of all the presidents of the United States - with enough pedestals to take America into the third millennium.
Below this would be a cavernous theatre, and a room dedicated to displaying the structural intricacies of the building’s double layer of reinforced concrete shells, steel columns and catenary vaults. Under these would have been a monstrous series of dining chambers, with capacity for 2,400, their ceilings decorated with cosmic murals and mythological scenes, where diners could listen to the sounds of a full symphony orchestra.
Mysteriously, Gaudí’s journey to New York was cancelled abruptly and the project was stopped with no reason given. It was long-forgotten, until die-hard Gaudí fans attempted to have it revived as a replacement for the Twin Towers after 9/11.