Watch and Listen

1. Watch the video. Write T (true) or F (false) next to the statements below. Correct the false statements.

___  Skyscrapers originated in New York City.


___  Louis Sullivan is credited with creating the skyscraper.


___  The first skyscraper was completed in 1898.


___  The skyscraper is considered a symbol of American consumerism in the world economy.


___  Skyscrapers have changed the appearance of cities around the world.


2. Watch again. Complete the notes.

Architects began to experiment with new buildings after: 1____________

Where Louis Sullivan lived and worked: 2____________

Where Auditorium Building is located: 3____________

In 1920, 100 million consumers were served by: 4____________

Tall buildings represent: 5____________



1 F; Skyscrapers originated in Chicago.   2 T

3 F; The first skyscraper was completed in 1889.   4 T   5 T


1 a fire in 1871   2 Chicago   3 Michigan Avenue, Chicago

4 300,000 corporations in the United States  

5 American corporate success


The skyscraper

New York City may have made them famous, but skyscrapers were born in Chicago, Illinois. A terrible fire in 1871 made it possible for architects to experiment with new building techniques that would allow them to make buildings taller than ever before. These stately brown-stone buildings are some of the world’s first skyscrapers.

Louis Sullivan, known as the father of the skyscraper, lived and worked in Chicago. This is his Auditorium Building on Michigan Avenue, completed in 1889. Sullivan believed that the new social and economic strength of the United States required a new architecture. And his idea that tall buildings represent power is still popular 125 years later.

Sullivan described the skyscraper as the perfect symbol of the proud spirit of the American man. But it was really the symbol of the proud American businessman. By 1920, there were over 300,000 corporations in the United States, serving 100 million consumers in an enormous single market – it was the biggest, most powerful economy the world had ever seen.

Above all, skyscrapers represented American corporate success. They changed the appearance of American cities. The skylines of New York and Chicago looked like bar charts or graphs, with the tallest buildings representing the richest, most powerful companies. And the same is still true in cities around the world today – from Dubai to Shanghai, from Seoul to Kuala Lumpur.

Listening 1

1. Listen to the conversation. What two problems are discussed?

1   ____________________

2   ____________________

2. Listen again. Complete the notes on the proposed solutions to the problems.


 Nearby _________ and renovation will _________ the area

 Knock down the original building

 _________ the building; it has lots of _________

 Transform _________ with a _________ building

 Design new building with _________ features

 Add _________ landmark made of _________ and _________

 Include _________ and red _________ from old _________ as part of new _________

 Put _________ on the ground floor and _________ or _________ above



1 the Westside area itself

2 the poor condition of the warehouse


Suggested answers:

1 development; transform

3 Renovate; potential

4 the area; new, modern

5 old architectural

6 contemporary; steel; glass

7 wooden beams; brick; building; building

8 shops; apartments; offices


Alan:   Khalid, we need to talk about that warehouse the company plans to obtain in Westside.

Khalid:   OK. I’ve just seen the pictures; I think there’s a lot of potential there.

Alan:   Really? I’m afraid we might be biting off more than we can chew.

Khalid:   Do you think so? Why?

Alan:   First, the problem is the Westside area itself. Thirty years ago, it was a thriving industrial neighbourhood with a lot of businesses. Now, it’s a half-empty waste ground. It’s ugly. There are lots of abandoned buildings, and the area isn’t really used for anything. No one wants to go there. Second, the warehouse we’re looking at is in a terrible condition. It was abandoned about 20 years ago. It’s beginning to sink into the ground, and it’s falling apart – we would need to do some serious work to bring the building back to good condition. Acquiring such an old building could be a huge mistake.

Khalid:   Really? I think the project is going to be a great success. In fact, I think it’s a potential goldmine.

Alan:   Um, OK. Could you expand on that?

Khalid:   There’s been a lot of activity in Westside recently. There is development and renovation going on nearby, and I think it’s really going to transform the area. Westside is becoming popular with people who work in the financial district, which is close by. Rents are still low there, and a new restaurant opens almost every week. I anticipate the neighbourhood becoming really trendy. No one has spent much money there in the past 20 years, but investment in the area has increased in the past year. We’re going to see a lot more improvement as well.

Alan:   That may be true, but that building is more like a prison than a potential shopping centre. People would never want to go shopping there. I think the first thing we’d need to do would be to knock it down, and that would cost us a lot of money.

Khalid:   Have you considered renovating the building instead of knocking it down? It has some beautiful original features.

Alan:   It looks as though it’s about to collapse!

Khalid:   I’m not sure it’s that bad. I think the original building has a lot of potential.

Alan:   I think we really want to transform the area with something modern. Why not just start again with a new building?

Khalid:   If we designed it properly, we could maintain the old architectural features, such as the red bricks and the stone. Those construction materials would better match the style of some of the other buildings around it. It would reflect the character of the area. We could give the old building a new lease of life.

Alan:   Maybe, but I think it would be better to transform the area with an architectural landmark, something new and contemporary. It would be more of a transformation if we built a modern building made of materials like steel and glass.

Khalid:   Couldn’t we do both? We’ll maintain more of a connection to the past if we include the old building as part of the new one. We could rebuild the warehouse using red brick similar to the original structure, and construct a new glass and steel extension – adding on rather than constructing a whole new building. It would also create more floor space that could be used for retail space. We’d have enough room for at least two or three more shops there.

Alan:   I hadn’t thought of doing it that way.

Khalid:   Another option to consider would be putting shops on the ground floor and flats or offices above. If we added a floor or two to the top of the building, we could definitely use glass and steel for that.

Alan:   Would they be luxury flats?

Khalid:   Maybe. We could have a modern, urban design, but still using the old architectural materials and features.

Alan:   Such as?

Khalid:   We could keep some of the original features as they are, such as the long, wooden beams used to support the ceilings and the exposed red brick walls that help support the roof. They would then become a decorative feature.

Alan:   So not traditional flats at all, then?

Khalid:   No, not at all. Very modern.

Alan:   It’s an expensive plan, and not everyone will like it.

Khalid:   We wouldn’t be the first to do this sort of thing, though. We can look at some other examples around the city where the same thing has been done successfully, if you’re interested in the idea.

Alan:   If we make that the first phase of our planning process, we can make a better decision about how to balance the traditional and modern features of the project, before we go on to the design and building phases.

Khalid:   There’s probably a Westside neighbourhood association or business association. We could meet with them and get their views.

Alan:   You’re right. We really should speak to some businesspeople in the area and arrange to take a better look at the building.

Khalid:   Let’s do it.

Listening 2

1. Listen to the housing development meeting between Maria and John (the clients) and Jamal and Tom (the developers). Use the T-chart below to take notes on the solutions to the problems.

potential problems

possible solutions

1  There is a tall building blocking the light for another block of flats in the development



2  The modern design of the development doesn’t fit in with the traditional buildings in the area



3  The undeveloped area they plan to build on is woodland, and residents want to retain it.



2. Match the descriptions to the correct pictures. Then listen again to check your answers.

 The proposed building site ____

 The developers’ proposal ____

 The clients’ preferred proposal ____

 A proposal not discussed in the meeting ____

3. Who said the statements below? Write D (developers) or C (clients).

1   One of the biggest benefits of this plan is that it will create housing for as many as 200 people. ____

2   We could consider using reflective glass. ____

3   You described the natural area you’d like to build on as waste ground, but actually, that’s a woodland. ____

 As it stands, this plan … would be very controversial. ____

 What about more, smaller, lower building? ____

 Lots of glass is a great idea but, in my view, the only viable option is to use brick. ____

 How about we position the new buildings near the edge of the woods? ____

 I feel confident we can come up with a good plan over the next two weeks. ____



Possible answers:

1   use reflective glass; make the building lower

2   reflect the size and materials of the other buildings in the area

3   position the new building near the edge of the site


1 C   2 D   3 A   4 B


1 D   2 D   3 C   4 C   5 C   6 C   7 D   8 D


Jamal:   Maria, John. Thanks for taking the time to meet with us.

Maria and John:   No problem. / My pleasure.

Jamal:   We have the first set of plans, and we think you’ll be really pleased with what we’ve put together. After discussing a lot of options, we now anticipate building a single eight-storey block of flats.

Tom:   You can see from the pictures here that we are planning on fitting this into the area by using part of the waste ground behind the current housing area.

Jamal:   One of the biggest benefits of this plan is that it will create housing for as many as 200 people.

Maria:   I can’t quite tell from the drawing … what materials are you going to use?

Tom:   The outside is made of glass and steel.

John:   And what’s the cost of this plan?

Jamal:   Around eight million pounds.

Maria:   Eight million? Well, the plan is definitely ambitious!

Jamal:   Yes, we’re aware that it’s over the construction budget of 7.5 million, but we are going to review the budget in light of some of our suggestions.

Maria:   Well, I have to say, we weren’t expecting the building to be so tall.

John:   Exactly. The existing buildings in the neighbourhood are no higher than two storeys, and you’ve placed the new building very close to them. I’m concerned about the other building on the site. The plan would block daylight for existing homes. We’re probably going to get a lot of complaints from the current residents.

Jamal:   We could consider using reflective glass instead, then. You know, like a mirror. It’s used in big cities to give a feeling of open sky.

Maria:   That’s a great idea, but I’m not sure it addresses the main problem. The real issue here is the height of the building. I strongly recommend that you reconsider this. After all, we originally suggested housing for about 100 people.

Tom:   Yes, we’ve doubled that.

Maria:   OK. Would you mind telling us a bit more about why you decided that?

Jamal:   Well, our thinking was that this would increase your company’s income from the building because you could sell or rent out more flats.

John:   We thought that might be an option at first, too, but now we realize it won’t work. We have to think about the houses that are already in the area. We really need to consider how the new building will contribute to the look of the area – that is, how it will fit in with the other buildings.

Tom:   When you say ‘fit in’, do you mean we should copy the style of existing buildings?

John:   No. We don’t expect you to copy, but we also don’t want to completely transform the feeling of the area either. So by ‘fit in’, I mean that it should look as though it belongs there. Our original suggestion was that the building should reflect the size and materials of the other buildings in the area.

Tom:   OK, I see what you mean.

John:   I have one other concern. You described the natural area you’d like to build on as waste ground, but actually, that’s a woodland. The children who already live in the area play there, and we want to maintain that open, natural area with all the trees. The residents really value having access to nature nearby.

Maria:   Exactly.

John:   As it stands, this plan with the tall, single building and the loss of the woodland would be very controversial. Wouldn’t it be better if we used this first design you have supplied to identify a few priorities?

Jamal:   Yes, that’s a good idea.

Maria:   OK … first, we need to think about what will be appropriate with the existing houses. What about more, smaller, lower buildings? We could have four two-storey buildings and, following our original plan, try to house 100 rather than 200 people. That might be better.

John:   And while we like the idea of contemporary design, I’m not sure glass and steel is appropriate. Lots of glass is a great idea but, in my view, the only viable option is to use brick, like the existing buildings.

Tom:   OK. So we’re talking about four two-storey brick buildings that can house about 25 people each?

John:   Right.

Tom:   That seems like an obvious solution, but it doesn’t address the issue of cost.

John:   What do you mean?

Tom:   Well, four smaller buildings will cost more than one larger one.

John:   Well, I guess we’ll have to see the actual costs to discuss that. Are we going to perhaps consider only three building?

Tom:   Yes, that’s a possibility.

Jamal:   And you mentioned having adequate green space. We didn’t realize children play in those woods. We need to be sympathetic to their needs, so we need to find a different solution. How about we position the new buildings near the edge of the woods?

Maria:   Yes, that’s possible. We can’t acquire the land next to our site because it’s public property, but we can benefit from being near that open space. The residents would definitely be able to enjoy the views then.

Tom:   I like your thinking. I completely agree.

Jamal:   OK, so I think we need to go back and start over again.

John:   Yes, I think you’re right. I’m sorry, I hope we didn’t waste your time.

Jamal:   Not at all. I think we understand the site a lot better now, and I feel confident we can come up with a good plan over the next two weeks.

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