Today is a “Grab Bag” day here at Entertainment Legends Revealed, where each time we feature a different area of the world of arts and entertainment (that is not featured on the other four legends of the week, that is). Each time you will see grab bag legends from one of these following 25 “Grab Bag” categories (I might expand the list in the future, but for now, we’re sticking with these 25).
This is the second in a series of examinations of legends related to architecture and whether they are true or false.
ARCHITECTURE LEGEND: There is a law in Washington D.C. that states that no building be as tall as the Washington Monument.
STATUS: False (Although Effectively True)
A common “fact” that gets bandied about often when visiting the District of Columbia is that there is a law that states that no building in Washington D.C. be as tall as the Washington Monument.
It IS true that there are no buildings in Washington D.C. as tall as the 555 foot tall Washington Monument, and it is also true that the heights of buildings within the district ARE restricted. However, the two are not necessarily connected.
I say “necessarily” because, yes, since there IS a restriction on the heights of buildings, then, by extension, there is, in fact, a law that keeps buildings shorter than the Washington Monument. The law just happens to not invoke the monument at all.
The original Height of Buildings Act was passed by the United States Congress in 1899 (in response to the building of the Cairo Hotel in 1894, the 164 foot building was surely only the first in a number of buildings designed to, well, scrape the sky), and at the time, it used the United States Capitol, not the Washington Monument, as its measurement.
This was later adapted by the 1910 version of the Act (D.C. Code § 6-601.05), which is the current version.
Under the current law, buildings are restricted to be no taller than 20 feet higher than the width of the adjacent street (with further restrictions the closer you get to the White House). There have been a few exceptions made over the years, mostly for religious buildings.
So yes, due to the law, the Washington Monument remains the tallest structure in Washington D.C., but that is coincidence, not intention.
ARCHITECTURE LEGEND: A California family had a house constructed entirely out of a recycled Boeing 747 airplane!
Francine Rehwald is a 65-year-old retiree who lives in Malibu Hills, California.
When she came to David Hertz for ideas of her retirement house in 2005, she wanted something that “environmentally friendly” and also be a real feminine design with, as Rehwald describes it, “curves.”
Hertz came up with a brilliant idea – build the house out of a recycled Boeing 747 airplane!!
And that’s just what they did, with the planning, permit granting and construction taking pretty much all of the last five years, with the project reportedly soon finally coming to fruition some time this year.
Here’s the design of the house, which uses the salvaged wings and tail flaps of the plane to serve as the roof of the multilevel home…
And as you can tell, such an endeavor presents some strange construction details, as shown here by the delivery of pieces of the plane…
An interesting aspect of the construction is the fact that, besides the overall point that they are making good use to all of the materials of the plane, there really is not anything particularly “green” about the design of the house. The only “green” thing about the house is what it is made out of. I only mention that because of the initial intent was to be environmentally friendly. And while yes, re-using a discarded plane is better than, say, trashing it, it is still somewhat odd that the house does not have other “environmentally friendly” aspects to it.
Still, what a cool house!!!
ARCHITECTURE LEGEND: Frank Lloyd Wright used massive amount of college student urine to treat the copper in his buildings at Florida Southern College.
It seems positively strange, but the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in one place is on the campus of the small private Methodist college, Florida Southern College, in Lakeland, Florida (Oak Hill Park in Illinois still has the largest collection of houses designed by Wright, but as you might imagine, a college campus has all of the buildings together, something that would not really be possible anywhere else).
The collection of buildings is called “The Child of the Sun” and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Here are a few of the pieces…
The story of HOW the buildings were built is pretty remarkable. Wright was in his 70s, and obviously at the tail end of his career in 1938 when Dr. Ludd M. Spivey, the president of Florida Southern, offered Wright a challenge. He could not afford to pay Wright much, but he would offer him carte blanche in being able to design the “college of the future,” plus Spivey would offer up the entire student population as basically indentured servants to do any work Wright needed done that didn’t need to be done by specialists (when the male students went to war in World War II, the female population picked up the slack).
Wright, who tended to be a bit whimsical like that (especially later in life), agreed.
One of the most amusing stories in the whole deal is how Wright dealt with the aging of the copper he used in the buildings. If you did not know this already, urine reacts with copper to help along the aging process. Wright happened to be a major proponent of using urine to treat copper. So when Spivey said that the students were available to Wright in any way, I don’t think he expected that to include massive contributions of student urine!
And yet, that’s what happened – I suppose you could say that, in a way, there is a piece of all the students of Florida Southern College in their school!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org