New landmarks

December 5, 2007

When a director wants a movie to demonstrate the British government, we get shots of Whitehall and Big Ben. When it’s the U.S. government to be invoked, the U.S. Capitol appears. A quintessential Russia image is the Kremlin. The Eiffel Tower evokes France. High school geography, history and government students should be able to recognize these sorts of landmarks to identify the nation or area in question.What about new landmarks? Brussels probably least penetrates the U.S. psyche of all the major European capitals. It’s a beautiful city, though, and a fun city, in my brief experience. Tradition and modernity mix and intermingle. While I stayed in a modern hotel, I strolled through plazas hundreds of years old. The city is easy to navigate, especially since it seems smaller than London or Paris, and until recently, it was largely unmarked by very tall buildings.

What will the landmarks be of the next 40 or 50 years? Dallas’s skyline shines at night with green neon outlining the city’s tallest building. Several other buildings retrofitted lights in blue, red and white, partly to compete — and of course, there is the red neon Pegasus, the symbol of the old, Dallas-based Magnolia Petroleum Co., which was bought up by Mobil, now a part of Exxon-Mobil. Lights give interesting ways to make new landmarks at night.

Brussels leaped into the bigtime with the recent opening of the Dexia Towers, a building that is lighted on the outside by a series of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) of various colors, at each window of the building. Will this become a hallmark of Brussels?

What other new structures will become common symbols in the next couple of decades?

Dexia Towers, Brussels - photo by Marc Vanderslagmolen

Doesn’t this photo make you want to go see the thing? 150,000 LEDs can be programmed for elaborate displays. Go see other photos at Room at the Top.


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