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Behold this rendering of the proposed 40-story Nexus Tower for downtown Seattle. The home-base city for Bill Gates’ Microsoft colossus is crazy for buildings that look like they’re liable to topple over on you or disorient you — sort of like Bill’s Windows operating system. In fact, Seattle lies on the infamous Cascadia  Subduction Zone, the site of one of the most powerful earthquakes in North America ever documented — January 26, 1700, 9.0 on the Richter scale (see this piece from The New Yorker magazine, July 20,2015). That was before the Pacific Northwest was settled by European Americans. Here’s what the article says about a modern replay of such an event:

If the entire zone gives way at once, an event that seismologists call a full-margin rupture, the magnitude will be somewhere between 8.7 and 9.2. That’s the very big one…. [T]he area of impact will cover some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people. When the next full-margin rupture happens, that region will suffer the worst natural disaster in the history of North America. Roughly three thousand people died in San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake. Almost two thousand died in Hurricane Katrina. Almost three hundred died in Hurricane Sandy. Fema projects that nearly thirteen thousand people will die in the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Another twenty-seven thousand will be injured, and the agency expects that it will need to provide shelter for a million displaced people, and food and water for another two and a half million.

So, isn’t this entertaining pile o’cubes just the thing to build there?

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Geography of Nowhere The Long Emergency
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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

5 Responses to “August 2017”

  1. jayrome August 3, 2017 at 11:23 am #

    OK Rubic. . . how come you didn’t color code the blocks?
    Are you sure the boxes are attached to one another or is just stacked? I could imagine the boxes connected for flexibility, sort of like a rattle snake’s rattle. Perhaps it will sway in the quake, how cool is that!
    Again somebody is putting up the moolah for this project. Did they con some insurance company, pension fund or REIT?

  2. AKlein August 5, 2017 at 10:16 pm #

    Cascadia subduction zone? The “big one” coming? Nah! We’re living in an advanced age where we make our own reality. We have become…gods! Transcended space, time, and petty physics. All the former limitations are falling like so many dominoes; behold, gender is no longer a jail! The freedom, ah, the freedom of it all!

  3. Brutus August 28, 2017 at 9:56 am #

    “… the worst natural disaster in the history of North America”?

    At least two known past events spring to mind that far surpass the prospect of a full-margin rupture of the Cascadia Subduction Zone: the eruption of the Yellowstone shield volcano under around 600 million years ago and the deluge following the melting of the North American ice sheet some 15,000 years ago. The history of North America extends backwards billions of years, so the likelihood of natural disasters eclipsing a back earthquake is certain. Maybe just say “in the [modern] history of North America.”

    As to the building, I don’t find this one nearly as ugly or offensive as many featured here.

  4. mcarlson August 31, 2017 at 5:42 pm #

    Actually, Seattle is Amazon’s town now. There’s an astonishing amount of construction going on at south Lake Union, Amazon HQ.

    I liked Seattle a lot more in the early 1970s, when there were only about three good restaurants but working people could afford to buy a home there. My wife’s parents bought a home on Queen Anne on a civil servant’s pay.

    I once read that in the case of the Big One, downtown Seattle’s streets would be filled with up to 10 feet of broken glass.

  5. DezeenCorporateKisser January 29, 2018 at 8:03 am #

    Tried to be slightly interesting. The architects were asleep when they came up with this one.

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