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Solomon Chaim, WikimediaCommons // CC-BY-SA-3.0

The World's Littlest Skyscraper

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Solomon Chaim, WikimediaCommons // CC-BY-SA-3.0

Burj Khalifa. The Shanghai Tower. One World Trade Center. Willis Tower. The Newby-McMahon Building?

One of these things is not like the others. Standing a mere 40 feet tall, the Newby-McMahon Building in Wichita Falls, Texas, is absolutely dwarfed by actual building behemoths. But what the World’s Littlest Skyscraper lacks in size, it makes up for in story.

In 1912, Wichita Falls was doing a big oil business—a gusher had been hit in the nearby town of Burkbennett, and thousands of people rushed to the area to stake a claim. One of them was a businessman named J.D. McMahon—but he wasn’t there to drill for oil. Instead, McMahon surveyed the town and realized it was sorely in need of a professional space where people could manage their oil dealings. He quickly drew up plans for a towering building worthy of the riches that were surely in Wichita Falls’ future.

Despite the minor detail that he didn’t actually have permission to build on the property, McMahon managed to secure $200,000 ($2.7 million today) from investors. They were reportedly thrilled about the building’s prime location across the street from a bustling hotel and not far from the train depot. They weren’t so thrilled upon the building’s completion in 1919, when they realized they had invested in more of a tall tale than a tall tower.

It seems that in the rush and excitement to capitalize on the boom town, no one bothered to check the dimensions of McMahon’s plans. By the time they figured out that it soared to the grand height of 480 inches instead of 480 feet, McMahon was long gone. What’s more, a judge ruled that the investors didn’t have a case, anyway—the blueprints were clearly labeled, and the financial backers should have reviewed them more carefully.

That’s not to say the space went unused. Six oil companies rented desks in the building, which, in addition to being rather squatty, was just 10 feet by 16 2/3-feet wide. It also gained fame when Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! column deemed it “The World’s Littlest Skyscraper” in a 1920 cartoon. The oil boom fizzled out a few years later, however, and the small structure was abandoned. After a fire took it completely out of commission in 1931, the remains of the burned-out “skyscraper” served mostly as an embarrassing reminder of Wichita Falls’ once-grand aspirations.

Though there were talks of demolishing the building, locals fought to have it saved, spending nearly $200,000 to purchase and restore all four stories. Their efforts paid off—the World’s Littlest Skyscraper was named to the National Historic Register and still stands today, housing an antique shop and an art studio.

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iStock
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architecture
One Photographer's Quest to Document Every Frank Lloyd Wright Structure in the World
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iStock

From California’s Marin County Civic Center to the Yokodo Guest House in Ashiya City, Japan, Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence spans countries and continents. Today, 532 of the architect’s original designs remain worldwide—and one photographer is racking up the miles in an attempt to photograph each and every one of them, according to Architectural Digest.

Andrew Pielage is the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s unofficial photographer. The Phoenix-based shutterbug got his gig after friends introduced him to officials at Taliesin West, the late designer’s onetime winter home and studio that today houses the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and Taliesin, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

Higher-ups at Taliesin West allowed Pielage to photograph the property in 2011, and they liked his work so much that they commissioned him for other projects. Since then, Pielage has shot around 50 Wright buildings, ranging from Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, to the Hollyhock House in Los Angeles.

Pielage takes vertical panoramas to “get more of Wright in one image,” and he also prefers to work with natural light to emphasize the way the architect integrated his structures to correspond with nature’s rhythms. While Pielage still has over 400 more FLW projects to go until he's done capturing the icon’s breadth of work, you can check out some of his initial shots below.

[h/t Architectural Digest]

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Made.com
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Art
What the Homes of the Future Will Look Like, According to Kids
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Made.com

Ask a futurist what the house of tomorrow will feature and she might mention automatic appliances and robot assistants. Ask a kid the same question and you’ll get answers that are slightly more creative, but not altogether impractical. That’s what Made.com discovered when they launched Homes of the Future, a project that had kids draw illustrations of futuristic homes that served as the basis for professional 3D renderings.

According to Co.Design, the UK-based furniture retailer recruited children ages 4 to 12 to submit their architectural ideas. The doodles, sketched in pen, marker, and colored pencil, showcase the grade-schoolers' imaginations. Paired with each picture is concept art made with a 3D illustrator that shows what the homes might look like in the real world.

The designs range from colorful and whimsical to coldly realistic. In one blueprint, drawn by Ameen, age 10, a neighborhood of rainbow buildings and flowers float among the clouds. Another sketch by Ellis, age 7, shows a “home built to last” with titanium, bricks, a steel roof, and bulletproof windows. Some kids seemed less concerned with durability than they were with the tastiness of the infrastructure. Cherry-flavored bricks, candy windows, and a giant jelly slide were just some of the features built into the future homes. Sustainability was also a major theme, with solar panels appearing on two of the houses.

Check out the original artwork and the 3D versions of their ideas below.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of Made.com.

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