Saturday, June 10, 2006

Madison's Skyscrapers


Text:
John Nolen is considered by many to be the father of urban planning - the idea that a city should plan its growth in order to create an attractive and healthy environment, rather than allowing the city to grow haphazardly according to the assorted plans of a multitude of landowners and real estate developers. In 1908, John Nolen came to Madison to aid the young city's growth. He made many recommendations to the city, one of which suggested that all buildings built near the capitol be shorter than the capitol itself. This would ensure that the capitol would always have a commanding view of the city, and that the majesty of the capitol would always be visible to residents. It took 12 years for a height ordinance limiting buildings around the capitol to 90 feet to pass through the legislature and become a law. There was much resistance, but the law was ultimately upheld by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, becoming the first ruling in the nation that gave cities the power to pass laws to achieve aesthetic objectives. During the 12 years of conflict over the ordinance, three buildings were completed that exceeded the maximum height. The Churchill Building before you was the first.

Challenge:
Take a photo from the highest point you can reach.

Location:
The Churchill Building, right next to Grace Episcopal Church.

Media:
Photo of the [building formerly known as the] Gay Building

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