중앙데일리

The best restroom view in town

Mar 05,2003
In the middle of Jongno, a major commercial district in central Seoul, stands a tall futuristic tower of glass and steel, with a donut-shaped observatory deck on the top floor.
At first glance, the observatory deck appears to be an unidentified flying object apparently ready to embark into outer space. Taking a high-speed elevator to the top floor, or 33d floor, one might expect to see Will Smith, from the film “Men In Black II,” guarding the UFO from aliens trying to conquer the universe. Instead, the top floor is occupied by two upscale restaurants, boasting great views.
This odd-looking building, built in 1999, has three cylinder-shaped core columns, is 133.5 meters (440 feet) high, has 60,653 square meters of floor space, and actually has 24 floors, since after the 23d there is a 30-meter gap before the top floor. Each of the three cylinder-shaped columns houses a high-speed elevator, with its steel frames exposed in the form of cross beams.
The building has gathered mixed views. “The building does not belong here in this old part of the city,” said a woman who identified herself as Ms. Kim. “Maybe in Gangnam, southern Seoul.”
Others are happy to have such a post-modern building in Jongno. “There are few tall buildings with such a great view around here,” said Kang Byung-il, a life planner at the Prudential Life Insurance Company of Korea. “From an architectural point of view, the building is modern and has ample space, which creates a pleasant atmosphere.” If Mr. Kang speaks with self-assurance, he has earned the right: He majored in architecture.
A woman waiting for a job interview at one of the restaurants said, “I thought this kind of building existed only in books on buildings in foreign countries. At first I felt that this building did not go well with the surrounding areas, such as the traditional Insa-dong district. But I believe being traditional can become highlighted when there is something new close at hand.”
Jongno Tower was co-designed by Rafael Vinoly, an Argentine-born American architect, and Samwoo Space Architecture Associates. It is owned by Samsung Life Insurance Co.
A visit to the restroom on the top deck is a must. A glass window occupies the length of one wall, offering the best view from a restroom in town. Jongno Tower was awarded Seoul city’s top honor for design in 1999.


by Limb Jae-un


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