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Behold: the proposal for a 160-story, 2418-foot tall “carbon neutral” skyscraper from the French architecture firm Rescubika on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. It incorporates 36 wind turbines, 8,300 shrubs, 1,600 trees, 83,000 square feet of plant walls, and nearly 23,000 square feet of solar panels.

The project is named Mandragore after the mandrake plant, the root of which is said to resemble the form of a male human being. But, let’s face it, this thing looks more like a techno-mutant new incarnation of the Loch Ness monster rising from the toxic depths of the East River — but don’t fret… it’s… environmental ! ! ! Yes, this is the latest method for blowing green smoke up the public’s rear-end:  design an outlandishly gigantic real estate project, brand it as “green” — though it requires immense amounts of hydrocarbon energy just to build — and then rake in immense profits from unit sales, and finally hand off the ownership to a condo association and let them deal with all the future problems.

For instance: the problem of not just caring for all those plants, but for the ceilings (and floors) that will be subjected to all the plant-watering that will have to go on to keep the plants alive. Do you have any idea how heavy water is? And how much it will take to water those 8,300 shrubs and 1,600 trees?

Color this project fuhgeddabowdit, as they say in Gotham.

Some additional cultural notes: skyscrapers are now obsolete. Our cities are now contracting, shrinking, and the process has only begun with the ravages of Covid-19. Coming next is a tax revenue famine of epic dimension and a self-reinforcing downward spiral of collapsing city services along with the flight of additional taxpayers with the means to still vamoose. This is one of the last proposals of its kind you will ever see. And like many expressions of things in nature just prior to extinction — e.g. Paraceratherium — they reach their largest and most florid expression just before the end-of-the-line.  Thanks to Brandon Haleamau for the nomination!


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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.

19 Responses to “December 2020”

  1. tom clark December 2, 2020 at 6:25 pm #

    Ship’s a sinkin’ Sorry CFN. Long emergency kickin’ into full gear. G’nite Kim.

  2. Zoltar December 2, 2020 at 7:22 pm #

    if this were actually built, imagine the intrusion of the roots of all those trees into the structure and infrastructure of the building. What a marvel – that anyone might approve this project.

  3. macseamus1 December 2, 2020 at 8:22 pm #

    Cruise ship from hell.

  4. tucsonspur December 2, 2020 at 9:12 pm #

    Finally, the Kraken has emerged! Or has it? Maybe this crass, colossal calamity is the work of Cobra, that villain of yesteryear’s comics, luring Mandrake the Magician into a deadly trap. I won’t believe for a second that this is the deformed result of a Mandrake magic act gone awry.

    Now, I’m not that good at being oneirocritical, but this offensive ogre could have emerged from the dreams of a onetime patient at the Octagon, NYC’s old lunatic asylum on Roosevelt Island. If so, I pity the poor shrink who had to probe that guy’s mind.

    Is this a cruise ship morphing into a residential tower, or a residential tower morphing into a cruise ship? Either way, it’s obnoxiously outre. If this keeps up, the East River will soon be called the Beast River, its banks battered by a barrage of buildings artistically blank and architecturally blasphemous.

    The French should stick to cooking. How could they have allowed I.M. Pei’s glass pyramids at the Louvre, or that atrocity at the Centre Georges Pompidou? Jeez, I’d rather have Le Corbusier, the French-Swiss architect who did Notre Dame Du Haut. Rescubika makes the world bleaker.

    To say that this structure will be environmentally friendly is like saying that plutonium is as safe as pizza. So the project is called Mandragore, after the mandrake root, which supposedly resembles the human male form. If so, then this structure suffers from a really serious case of Peyronie’s disease.

    What more is there to say? Mandragore is one big eyesore.
    Frenchie, how about a delectable amuse bouche? Ah, delightful!

  5. dowd December 3, 2020 at 6:05 am #

    Mandragore is a gesture of defiance, giant FU to the world.

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  6. ghost of freedom December 3, 2020 at 8:13 am #

    Looks like the GIANT BOOT orwell wrote about in 1984…

    you know, the one that keeps stamping on a human face …


  7. lateStarter December 3, 2020 at 11:22 am #

    Never going to happen. Hard to imagine someone got paid for this ‘proposal’. Where are the machine-gun turrets?

  8. mikeyfav December 3, 2020 at 2:22 pm #

    Good grief! A monument to self indulgence is what that is.They’re still doing the same thing in the Toronto area. Planning 22 storey condo developments (where the limit’s only 15), because they’re still anticipating unlimited demand and money to be flowing like it’s 2019! Didn’t they get the memo yet? Just how dumb are these people? Soon, I won’t be able to see the lake anymore. Reality has to assert itself sooner or later. Reminds me of a chicken with its head cut off,still running madly about the yard before it suddenly collapses.After all, what could possibly go wrong? Thanks so much!

  9. JackStraw December 3, 2020 at 8:36 pm #

    It will be New York’s version of the Great Sphinx, except it will last about 1/10,000 as many years.

    • BackRowHeckler December 9, 2020 at 4:20 pm #

      1/10,000 sounds about right.

      ‘Coliseums’ built in New Haven and Hartford (at great expense) in the 1970s, the one in New Haven already torn down, the one in Hartford falling into disuse and dicreptitude.

  10. James Kuehl December 3, 2020 at 8:47 pm #

    This humdinger would be a 2,500 high pylon in a very heavy air traffic corridor. Gotta wonder what the odds would be of an errant aircraft plowing into it.

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  11. bymitch December 9, 2020 at 1:59 pm #

    On their website, Rescubika freely admit to be wedded to the visual arts, where the task at hand is to spark thinking and debate, often through an assault on common sense and sensibilities.
    Where Cornell Tech have strived to test the limits of zero-carbon building practice by realising some ambitious projects, on this site, we must now ponder this concept, at a scale on a par with printing money.
    A monster of this proportion cannot be related to its physical context and so the artist cleverly assigns it a (place)name, Mandragore, to enable us to figure out where this shape sits in the bigger scheme of things.
    The celebration of the root of a plant involves inverting the normal growth pattern, with the root of the plant extending up to the sky and everything green, buried out of sight.
    With its head in the sand we can relate this back to the claims of human resemblance, but this seems to be too obvious for something that appears to have involved an awful lot of effort.
    To my eye, I sense a lot of grasping, the form resembling a well throttled sponge.
    Whether this action is aimed at straws, or a root, I am not so sure.
    If it is the latter the reference may be more contemporary, and, unfortunately bandwagon, related to the carceral.
    This seems to make sense, as we are told that living quarters incorporate a home office, and pet foliage, so you don’t ever need to be released back into the wider community.
    An uneasy juxtaposition with Four Freedoms Park, reinforces the idea.
    But then again I might be reading too much into it.

  12. Thomas December 11, 2020 at 8:00 am #

    Don’t forget mosquitos!

  13. AKlein December 11, 2020 at 11:11 am #

    “Allow me to show you the luxury apartment on the 143rd floor that you’ve purchased. Alas, the elevators are not working today – they’re run by biogas which we manufacture right here on premises with the excreta of Mandragore’s inhabitants. There was an overestimate of the daily volume that excreta, so we can run the elevators only 3 days out of the week and today isn’t one of those days. Only 286 flights of stairs to your new abode! For each of your journeys on foot to your apartment you’ll be awarded a green supporter merit, the counts of which which will show proudly next to your name on the building roster. The hidden benefit of this is that you certainly won’t need to visit the gym for any lower body work. You’ve got that covered!”

  14. smoothtom December 22, 2020 at 12:30 am #

    Your eyesore of the month is a hypothetical project–a rendering, an idea that will never come to pass? You have lost your fucking mind. Whatever relevance you once had was left to die in 2006–the same year that this piece of garbage website was last relevant.

    • lateStarter January 4, 2021 at 11:27 am #

      Would you care to make a small, friendly wager on this coming to completion and occupancy (at least one occupant, not staff)? When is it projected to be completed? I have a feeling others would also be willing to get in on this bet.

  15. JCalvertNUK December 24, 2020 at 3:38 am #

    It is about as attractive as the scraggy neck of a rather sick turkey. Which is an appropriate thought for the season. Merry Christmas!

    As the thousands of trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, and water from the irrigation system, they will get progressively heavier and heavier.

    Therefore the structure will have to be over-designed – with an considerable over-supply of structural strength. So, say good-bye to any hopes for an airy structure with elegantly slender columns and beams.

    The trees will need to be pruned on a regular basis – which could be challenging.

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