September 29, 2021

“TALL” Op-Ed Column by Architect Graham McGarva


Architect Graham McGarva read the post on Tall Buildings  and responded “it was so serendipitous to see the other end of the problem with Tall Buildings…” and sent in this first draft of a poem he has written regarding the “competition” of designers who are “prone to encourage tall buildings at the expense of their ground condition and site. ” 

Graham cites Vancouver House as a “stunning example” of this lack of context and addressing the street. He is part of the newly formed poetry group  “the Place Mattering Matters Collective” (with Richard Evans, Daniela Elza and Maria Roth). They will be publishing their materials with Urbanarium.

You can also read more of Graham’s poetry on his blog cityslices. He shares the “Tall Op-Ed Column” poem below:


The purpose
of building form
is for sunlight to
reach within
the walls, deep
In one’s heart,
protecting the embrace
of winter with flashes of
light, and the caress of
summer with weaving
Some have little choice but
to seek this repose outside.
Many find themselves shut in;
fully dependent on the passage
of daylight                     through
the city sky.
But opposing them are those who care not
for the quality of our
shared life, but yearn
for           skyscraper
contests to fill the sky
and pave our streets
and meeting places
with reflection from
that global pinnacle
whose aim is to get
away from everyone.
I have
enjoyed a life that allowed me build
forty storeys high in the suburbs, in
effort   to    create  place  worthy   of
affection. Each is an extreme
intervention like opening up a
forest clearing by felling a mature tree.
Reaching high is reach
for                    nihilistic
annihilation of the
light of the world from
those who care. It
condemns us click on
vacuous pixels as
though isolation were
a game.
Once it is dark under
a conspiring cluster
of rusting spires
covering the
common ground,
there is no going
back – no undo.
Each tower needs be this extreme search
for perfect placement of the café canopy
nestled in the leafy sunlight.
This gives us congregation, without whose seed of interaction –
and playful pause in the beauty of day, descend
of towering

Graham McGarva


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  1. Nice sentiments. We need buildings to enclose indoor spaces for private reveries and outdoor spaces for all so that we may have community. How do towers do that?