Episode #53, “The Xanadu Effect”, ponders the effects of colossal buildings and whether they can be signifiers of economic collapse. This week’s image correspondence brings you two buildings that opened on the eve of two major financial crises in the United States. While finding the images, I was also thinking about producer Julia Barton’s experience of being at the top of a skyscraper, and at its base.
At 54 stories tall, Manhattan’s One Liberty Plaza is a gleaming example of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s functionalist international style. The building’s first tenant, Merrill Lynch, moved in just before the Western economy dissolved into the 1973 – 1975 Recession, which was characterized by high unemployment and inflation.
In 1925, the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) commissioned the Chicago-based Holabird & Root to design a sprawling art deco headquarters with several single-acre trading floors. Guarded by a rooftop statue of Ceres (Roman goddess of grain and agriculture) the building opened seven months after the October 1929 Wall Street Collapse, which dissolved the American agricultural market.
Special thanks to Orla O’Sullivan for her help researching and writing about this week’s image correspondence.
Kate Joyce is a Chicago based artist, architectural photographer, and the first image correspondent for 99% Invisible. Every two weeks, Joyce will release new and original work for specific episodes. She’ll also comb through her archive to find previously made photographs that are already in thematic conversation with current and past episodes. “I’m curious to see how audio will shape image and image will shape audio and what that will mean to telling stories about design over time,” Joyce says.
Now You See It is a project of 99% Invisible. Our intent is to create a public dialogue by offering our listeners a new way to interact with our show, as well as their own immediate environment. The project includes the Image Correspondent Residency and ongoing photo assignments for listeners. We want to get people out in the world engaging with our program, the built environment and photography. The images will have their own editorial arc, playing on themes that surface in our shows and leading us to new shows. This project came to us from the listeners and is a natural extension of our mission at 99% Invisible. It’s the next step in turning 99% Invisible from a radio show into a lens for viewing the world. Our first assignment will be posted soon, so stay tuned.