The Next Big Thing

[The Colossus of Rhodes by Salvador Dali]
Reading through discussions of Chicago’s new leading lady, someone suggested that the twisted building is merely the newest trend in land developing – the metropolis’ equivalent of “keeping up with the Johnson’s (or Jones’?).” So I started thinking, what’s going to be the next trend to storm our cities? Quickly realizing that I had no idea, I started thinking about what trend I would WANT to see storm our cities. The answer, of course, was simple: Giant Statues. Not just big statues, mind you, but mind-numbingly large figures that remind us of the heroic potential inherent in the human race.

Maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic for my college classics classes and Xena: Warrior Princess reruns, but I’d love to see every city construct a terrifyingly enormous statue. Think: the Colossus of Rhodes or the Statue of Liberty (relocated to the city proper). A sublime, anthropomorphic sculpture personifying the character and history of its respective metropolis. Located either at the city center of the entrance to the city, it would stand as an inspiring icon and, if Ghostbusters 2 has taught us anything, a potential defense system.

What do you want the next city design trend to be? Share you ideas in the comments. Extra points for creativity.

The Colossus of Rhodes was erected in 282 BC to commemorate Rhodes’ victory over the invading Macedonians, led by Demetrius I, son of Antigonus, a general under Alexander the Great. Made of steel, stone, and plated bronze salvaged from the abandoned weapons and siege towers of the failed invaders, the statue stood at 110 feet tall and depicted Helios, the patron god of Rhodes. An earthquake caused the statue to break at the knees 56 years after its completion. Contrary to popular myth, the statue did not actually straddle the harbor leading into the city, but stood stoically alongside it – more like the Dali painting shown above.

Chares of Lindos was the unfortunate architect who designed the statue, and it’s believed that he committed suicide before it was completed. A controversial character, his true fate is lost to history, but one tale states that the Colossus was almost finished when a small flaw was brought to the attention of the architect, who was so ashamed he took his own life. In another story, the city of Rhodes decided to double the size of the statue, but Chares only doubled his fee, not realizing that doubling the size would require eight times the materials. (does that make sense?) He was driven into bankruptcy and then suicide. Clearly, the profession hasn’t changed much in 2000 years.

Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty, (150 ft high sans base) was inspired by Lindos’ short-lived creation. Both statues depicted a human figure standing atop a pedestal, holding a torch in their right arm. Helios, being the sun god, would most likely have been depicted with rays emanating from his head – an allusion made by the crown of the Statue of Liberty.

see also:
Colossus Redux [LWB]
More Giant Statues [LWB]

6 Replies to “The Next Big Thing”

  1. Gothic citadels. I imagine New York and Chicago and Boston all duking it out using star architects to build the most threatening pile of spiky ornaments and sheer walls. Then Pataki can stand in the tallest spire and say vaguely how this “demonstrates the resilience and spirit of the people of New York.”

  2. Tulsa was talking last year about erecting a giant bronze statue of a native american called “the american” that would be 60′ taller that the statue of liberty.
    see here and also here

    I also saw a campaing to build and similarly sized statue of abe lincoln in springfield, IL. It looked like something out of the simpsons.

  3. Art, fashion and music have had their turn, and the inevitabel cannot be far away:

    Eighties Revival.

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