Monday, September 13, 2010

The great glass envelope


Office space
London, ON, August 2010


I feel sorry for the birds who inevitably slam into tall, mirror-finished buildings before falling ingloriously, and finally, to the ground. Generations after skyscrapers redefined the urban landscape, we still build wildlife-unfriendly structures without so much as a second thought.

I hear you: My heart bleeds a liberal shade of red, and there's a cute koala bear over there that also needs saving. So I'm a softie, and I guess I'll always be one. Whatever. It nevertheless bugs me that designers still create gigantic mirrors like this one knowing full well what the consequences might be, and so often are. In the overall scheme of things it may not be the biggest tragedy out there. But it shouldn't need to be to merit some motivation to change. Even a little.

Your turn: To mirror or not to mirror. That is the question. What's your answer?

One more thing: To participate in this week's reflection-themed Thematic Photographic activity, just click here.

29 comments:

Peter said...

Well, Carmi, first of all, many, many thanks for the wonderful comment on my blog. It means a lot to me to have my hobby appreciated - my enthusiasm grows for it every day.
In relation to your question, it's a tricky one. By all means, these buildings are stunning works of art (well, some of them), but if they constantly affect wildlife, is there a point to them? Maybe not...but then I was standing at a bus stop last winter, and this is just normal, transparent glass, and a bird rammed into it. Maybe there's nothing we can do...although thinking about it, I'd imagine a bird would think twice about flying into itself, like a mirror - maybe we should ban transparent glass instead....

Peter

Peg Cherre said...

After trying for a few days to get a good photo for the Reflection theme, this one fell into my lap.

http://secondwindjewelry.com/jewelry-weaving-blog/2010/09/aglow/

Shirley said...

Carmi, I came across your blog from, you guessed it, blog of note. Congratulations! I've read a few of your posts and find them equally entertaining and thought provoking. I am particularly touched by the post about your daughter. I'll be back. Come visit me sometime.

srp said...

If you have ever watched a Thrasher, you realize that no matter what you build, birds will run into it. Thrashers can run into a pole when it is the only thing in the middle of the yard. They aren't always good with trees either. I have seen them aim for a certain limb and ram into the trunk. And yet the pigeons of NYC seem to have adapted quite well to the glass houses there.

We have a bluebird that pecks on the window all the time.... I haven't decided if it is just his reflection he sees or if he... or rather, his wife simply wants to live in our house rather than the one we have for them.

One must also consider that bird predators such as the eagle and hawk, rarely visit cities and as such the birds there a safer than the mourning doves in our yard. Here the hawks hunt in the open as well as in the woods and within the span of three weeks... five hapless birds became the next lunch for the hawks.

No good answers.

Janie B said...

I'm a bird lover, so I feel for the little guys. I like your writing style, so I'm a new follower. Good blog!

JJ said...

First time on your blog, and I love it! I think I will follow along.

As for the birds, I am an animal lover, but I think they are supposed to have some sort of radar to avoid humans and all their destructive ways. I'm not sure the mirrors are at fault. Jury is still out.

Akseli Koskela said...

Hi Carmi, I'm a school teacher and I can tell you far worse than the birds that hit a glass window are those that get inside a classroom. Then keep hitting the window trying to get out and it is usually quite difficult to help them get out and you certainly can't teach in that environment.

It is sad when it happens, obviously bird brains never evolved to have to deal with glass. But I'm not sure how you can take glass out of human buildings - these things just happen.

Twain12 said...

as i dislike skyscraper and modern architecture i'm probably not a good person to ask, i'm a softy and a bleeding heart like you, so ya not to crazy about the glass...On a lighter note people are not much smarter. In Germany i worked at a Pet Store that had a huge parrot cage that houses a Macaw ,one side was all glass...we had so many people walk in to it that we had to but those big bird stickers on it LOL

aaron robb said...

Any man-made structure is bound to cause a disturbance for animals in the area. Whether its being made to leave their homes (building on what used to be forest, etc), or invading their air space, there is no way to prevent this if the size of desired structures requires lots of space. Unfortunately, unless the developer cares to spend the extra money (never) to make their building not mirrored, or more eco friendly, then it'll never happen.

Doug and Mary Ann said...

Birds will fly into a window even if it's not mirrored glass. We have that problem sometimes at our house in the family room picture window. I hate it when it happens.

geets said...

Hey, Carmi, I came to your blog from the Blogs of Note feature, I liked what I read and am here to stay..lol...I hate glass buildings. Too many birds get caught out by them!! and as if that wasn't bad enough the heat and light reflected off these things is downright awful!!!!!!

king001 said...

A good picture, anyway. And the birds will be hurted...

http://www.luxe-boots.com/blog/

Kev D. said...

Not to mirror. Be yourself. :)

Ginny said...

Well, Carmi, this makes me think that you now or previously have worked in one of these buildings and witnessed this. I'm a bird watcher and lover, so I don't see why they can't make something just as pretty that the birds won't crash into. What's up with all these glass buildings in recent times, anyway? After awhile, they all look the same. Reflective of each other. Too bad companies can't hire some of the many gifted and cutting edge architects out there.

Catharine said...

If I may: an entry in my journal from last summer about this very thing:

We can do no great things; only small things with great love. (Mother Teresa)

Sometimes it's the small, astonishing moments in life that make the most, and the least, sense.

On Saturday morning, the little yellow finch died. He'd been hurling himself against the window of my study all summer long and finally fell to his death. At the time, I was lounging on the back deck, rocking to and fro on the old creaking swing, dazed by the mid-day sun, daydreaming. And I felt him fall. Felt his body tumble onto the hot wooden boards at my feet, felt the soft whisper of feathers as his breath left and he settled into death.

I know what you're thinking, that he was just another bird. Just another yellow bird. But I cried for that little yellow bird. I cried because I'd watched his life unfold through my window, every single day, a small thing, it's true ...

Copyright 2009 - catharine kozak

hellionist said...

the great glass envelope

As an amateur designer, that made me think. Little acts of cruelty unnoticed. To think I've recently been amazed by a tree house build on the middle of the forest with 'mirror' walls and termed 'nature friendly'. Something to think about the next time I design.

Yes, your words really matter.

I for one appreciate it.

Zoya said...

a few years ago they put up a banner ad on one of the buildings in india because the reflection from the glass was dangerous for planes.....

perhaps it could be done for the birds too?

fredamans said...

Sure looks nice, seeing a building above the cityline all decked out in mirrors. But I agree the poor birds must hate it.

kim said...

Right...the birds see the sky reflected in the mirrors and plow straight into the buildings...I vote for no mirrors :)

King of New York Hacks said...

I work in a building with clear windows and the birds hit the window so hard we usually see the imprint of the bird including the wingspan until a window cleaner gets rid of them...eerie..I don't know what the answer is.

becca said...

not sure i'm qualified to answer this one but i enjoy reading your post thank you for sharing.

mbugua kibera said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mbugua kibera said...

i feel you.
i was brought up partly in a rural part of kenya...near mount kenya region where there so many species of birds.
i am a bird lover.
this a wonderful thought.
there were so many birds especially the one that used to come to our homestead in the morning...at the door.
small birds..we used to call them 'tunyoni twa jaa' meaning (birds that used to stay outside our home.
the birds remind me of the fond memories back in the days.

Trish's Soapy Blessings said...

I've never been a real lover of glass structures, although I can see why many folks love them. Eye candy, not necessarily created for function but for beauty.
The plain brown sparrow is more beautiful than the most glorious glass structure in my opinion.

Trish
http://SoapyBlessings.blogspot.com

H said...

Tough call on the buildings. I absolutely love to go to NY City and get lost in the skyscrapers, but the rest of me enjoys the dirt and the natural land. Currently, I'm caught somewhere inbetween.

As for mirroring...you can mirror for a while as you're looking for your own voice, your own personality, your own self. Then you become the mirror for someone else. Hopefully you're not reflecting something that will lead them to a slam and a falling death. :)

Oh-found you on Blog of Note. It's the first time I've ever really looked there. Glad to read something from out-of-country! Loved the bit on your daughter.

dennicapearl said...

love your wordplay on the liberalism sentence, but honestly, liberalism may have nothing to do with this.

building structures around wildlife has to do with a sense of humaneness, and willingness to compromise.

i have yet to hear of an architectural firm that trains its architects to reach more for environmentalism as opposed to glory, and fame for a wonderful structure.

congratulations on being a blog of note. im a new follower :]

<3 dennica pearl
- through the eyes of a pearl
- vintage shop

EG Wow said...

I can see why birds might fly into this! Lots of glass here!

Jayme said...

Couldn't agree more! Its terrible what humans do without a second thought. We are def a selfish race

NikkiDarlin' said...

I'm new to reading your blog. good stuff. well to mirror or not to mirror? I have to say the mirrored ones are really pretty. but i have to be on the birds side.