A Short History of the High Rise is an interactive, four-part series (Mud, Concrete, Glass, Home) from the Katerina Cizek of the New York Times, that tells the global history of the high rise building in a chronological progression.
The piece employs a variety of techniques to demonstrate the passing of time. There is a timeline at the bottom of the screen and dates are spelled out for viewers.
The timeline explores the history of the Dakota Building, towers, Babel, Rome, cliff dwellings in Arizona, communal living in Chinese Tulou, Yemen, the debut of the elevator, tenements in New York City and concludes with the modern high rise.
In addition to the detailed information of parts 1-4 progressing in a chronological order, each section of the series progresses in a chronological order to cover the building history (Mud), social history (Concrete and Glass) and concluding with Home – the various ways people all over the world make homes of different high rise living.
Other Points of Navigation
Users are offered the option to ‘explore’ more of the interactive elements, outside of the regular progression of the series, by clicking tabs under the timeline.
These tabs take the reader/viewer to a series of still photographs that offer greater detail into the topic of that particular series.
Readers are also offered the option to click yet another tab to flip the picture(s) over to read additional information that includes captions, years the photo(s) were taken and the photo credits.
In part four, Home, viewers can read first-hand accounts from real people of their experiences living in high rises.
High Rise utilizes a multitude of other media elements including many animations, an audio interview (Miles Glendinning – Mass Housing Scholar), background music, nature sounds and even a simulation/virtual tour of a New York City apartment to demonstrate the size of an average apartment.
The last part of the series, Home, explores the different aspects that make high rise living a home for millions of people around the world. Categories featured are:
Exteriors and Interiors
Various Cities Around the World (Shanghai, New York, Beijing, Singapore, Chicago, Queens and Dublin)
Dawn, Dusk and Night
Like Cizek says, “this story is less about buildings than it is about people. It is about the places we call home, and how we decide who will live where. If you look closely, seemingly ordinary buildings can reveal the values of the society that has created them.”