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David Macaulay
David Macaulay
_Live chat transcript

Below is the transcript of a live chat with BUILDING BIG series host and author-illustrator David Macaulay. It was originally hosted on Yahoo! on October 11, 2000.

y_chat_diva: Welcome to our chat tonight!
y_chat_diva: We're really psyched to be talking with David Macaulay tonight.
y_chat_diva: He's the host of BUILDING BIG on PBS
y_chat_diva: And you can check him out Tuesdays in October.
y_chat_diva: He's also the author and illustrator of the awesome book THE WAY THINGS WORK
y_chat_diva: David's here and ready to chat
y_chat_diva: So all you guys need to remember is
y_chat_diva: to use the ASK A QUESTION box.
y_chat_diva: But we're about ready to go!
y_chat_diva: So without waiting any further...
y_chat_diva: Please welcome David Macaulay to Yahoo! Chat.
y_chat_diva: Hello!
david_macaulay_live: Hello to everybody.

isle_seet asks: I just found about the show... can I still tune in or have I missed too much?
david_macaulay_live: Oh, no, you certainly haven't missed too much.
david_macaulay_live: There are still 3 shows to go.
david_macaulay_live: They're always repeated.
david_macaulay_live: In the New England area, there are opportunities to get on other
david_macaulay_live: stations, so I would just check your local listings.

l98shh3 asks: How long did it take to film this series?
david_macaulay_live: It took us about two years altogether.
david_macaulay_live: Maybe two-and-a half from the beginning.
david_macaulay_live: We didn't do it continuously,
david_macaulay_live: but there were chunks of time ...
david_macaulay_live: months here, two weeks here or there.

lvnfssn asks: Our Adult Basic Ed class would like to ask you some questions.
y_chat_diva: Please ask away :)
y_chat_diva: Just remember to use the ASK A QUESTION box

xavier2011 asks: How did THE WAY THINGS WORK attraction come about at the Sony Metreon in San Francisco?
david_macaulay_live: The Sony attraction was something conjured up by Sony.
david_macaulay_live: They were looking for books or material to adapt
david_macaulay_live: to their space.
david_macaulay_live: They wanted some specific attraction in addition to the
david_macaulay_live: theatres and shops and restaurants.
david_macaulay_live: They liked THE WAY THINGS WORK.
david_macaulay_live: They also liked WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
david_macaulay_live: so that became the attraction.
david_macaulay_live: It really was Sony.

sobriquet_films asks: What is the show about?
david_macaulay_live: The shows are about monumental structures:
david_macaulay_live: where they came from,
david_macaulay_live: who built them,
david_macaulay_live: why they were built
david_macaulay_live: and why they stand up.

kdando asks: Is there a sequel to BUILDING BIG in the works?
david_macaulay_live: There's no sequel in the works.
david_macaulay_live: We've just survived the first series.
david_macaulay_live: It's taken a long time.
david_macaulay_live: Not only did it take two-and-a-half years to do the series,
david_macaulay_live: but also three-quarters of a year to do the book.
david_macaulay_live: So we're all tired and worn out.
david_macaulay_live: No sequel yet.

a_vespers asks: Have you read, WHY BUILDINGS STAND UP?
david_macaulay_live: Yes.
david_macaulay_live: I have read it and I'm a great fan of Salvadori and his books.
david_macaulay_live: It was certainly a book that was on my drawing board while I was working
david_macaulay_live: because like Salvadori, my purpose in doing the book and
david_macaulay_live: in working with the series was to help people understand
david_macaulay_live: how bridges and tunnels
david_macaulay_live: and domes and
david_macaulay_live: dams
david_macaulay_live: and skyscrapers
david_macaulay_live: actually stay in place once they're finished.
y_chat_diva: Do you find that challenging? Helping people to understand?
david_macaulay_live: Yes, I find it challenging to understand it myself.
david_macaulay_live: That's the first step - I have to figure out what keeps these things up.
david_macaulay_live: That's why I do these projects - I like to learn this stuff.
david_macaulay_live: Once I learn, the challenge is how to explain it clearly to someone else.
david_macaulay_live: Through film or illustrations.
david_macaulay_live: But the first step is truly to understand it yourself.
david_macaulay_live: And that's why I do it.
david_macaulay_live: I'm a student.
david_macaulay_live: I guess I will always be a student.
y_chat_diva: Remember to ask David a question -- use the ASK A QUESTION box.

jal92034 asks: What's your favorite part of the series?
david_macaulay_live: My favorite part of any of the shows was that moment
david_macaulay_live: when I would discover something I had no idea about.
david_macaulay_live: Like in the dome show, when I first discovered
david_macaulay_live: that the capitol dome was made from cast iron.
david_macaulay_live: I had seen it for years and assumed that since the building
david_macaulay_live: was made of stone, so was the dome.
david_macaulay_live: But it can't be.
david_macaulay_live: It was an addition to an existing building which
david_macaulay_live: would not have supported a dome of that size made of stone.
david_macaulay_live: It would have been too heavy.
david_macaulay_live: Another example of a surprise ...
david_macaulay_live: was the way in which the Citigroup skyscraper in Manhattan
david_macaulay_live: minimizes the sway of the building when it gets windy.
david_macaulay_live: And it's basically on a huge concrete block that moves counter
david_macaulay_live: to the movement of the building.
david_macaulay_live: Very carefully controlled.
david_macaulay_live: It minimizes the sway.
david_macaulay_live: So you can build very tall buildings and use less steel.

monsieurbix asks: What structures do you profile in the series?
david_macaulay_live: Well, let's start with bridges.
david_macaulay_live: We begin in Rome.
david_macaulay_live: With a bridge that the Romans built in 62BC [Ponk Fabricio]
david_macaulay_live: a stone arch bridge.
david_macaulay_live: Through a railway bridge in France designed by Eiffel.
david_macaulay_live: The Firth of Forth bridge in Scotland.
david_macaulay_live: The Brooklyn Bridge.
david_macaulay_live: The Golden Gate.
david_macaulay_live: In domes ..
david_macaulay_live: we start with the Pantheon.
david_macaulay_live: St. Peters
david_macaulay_live: The U.S. Capitol.
david_macaulay_live: The Astrodome.
david_macaulay_live: The Georgia Dome ... not really a dome, but a clear span.
david_macaulay_live: Skyscrapers ...
david_macaulay_live: We visit San Gimignano.
david_macaulay_live: And the Gothic cathedrals.
david_macaulay_live: Because they were the first people to build tremendously high structures
david_macaulay_live: and had to find a way to combat the wind.
david_macaulay_live: Which is not easy to do.
david_macaulay_live: And the World Trade Center.
david_macaulay_live: The Sears Tower.
david_macaulay_live: Empire State Building.
david_macaulay_live: The Petronas Towers in Asia.
david_macaulay_live: Dams ...
david_macaulay_live: An ancient Egyptian dam that failed [Sadd El Kafara].
david_macaulay_live: The Hoover Dam.
david_macaulay_live: The Aswan High Dam
david_macaulay_live: Two new dams in Brazil [Itaipu and Ita Dams]. One is still under construction.
david_macaulay_live: Tunnels ...
david_macaulay_live: The first underwater tunnel under the Thames
david_macaulay_live: 1820,1840 .... somewhere in there.
david_macaulay_live: The Roman tunnels before that.
david_macaulay_live: sewage-carrying tunnels.
david_macaulay_live: The Holland Tunnel.
david_macaulay_live: The Channel Tunnel between England and France.
david_macaulay_live: And that's approximately what we cover in the series.
david_macaulay_live: The Big Dig in Boston ... where tunnels are theoretically
david_macaulay_live: being used to make the city more manageable.
y_chat_diva: Was there any structure that you wanted to include but couldn't? Or did you guys get it all?
david_macaulay_live: Well, I included - in the book - a couple that are left out of the film.
david_macaulay_live: I think all structures are in these categories.
david_macaulay_live: These structures are the most familiar ...
david_macaulay_live: except for dams.
david_macaulay_live: We don't encounter them often, but we do depend on them.
david_macaulay_live: That dependency is what's important about all these structures.
david_macaulay_live: We depend on them ... and take them for granted.

zippyiscool asks: How much time did you spend researching this project?
david_macaulay_live: I didn't have to research the film because I didn't write the film.
david_macaulay_live: As I worked on the film, I started my own research.
david_macaulay_live: I started in January of this year.
david_macaulay_live: I've been working flat out since January to finish the companion book.

kkiewitt asks: Why did you not know the name of the Astrodome's inventor? His name was Gustel Kiewitt, and he holds the patent on that Lamella dome
david_macaulay_live: The Lamella is the roof system ...
david_macaulay_live: I have no idea who holds the patent.

david_macaulay_live: The kind that works!
david_macaulay_live: I don't have a favorite because you have to look at the problem
david_macaulay_live: that the engineer is faced with.
david_macaulay_live: A suspension bridge is the most impressive structure you're going to find anywhere.
david_macaulay_live: I think you need to connect the solution with the problem.

david_macaulay_live: And judge the solution based on how well the problem is solved.
tyler49686 asks: Do you enjoy writing about these things?
david_macaulay_live: Writing? Most of the time.
david_macaulay_live: Because I'm not an expert ... I also can get lost.
david_macaulay_live: At that point, I refer to my engineering friends.
david_macaulay_live: I plead with them to help me understand.
david_macaulay_live: For the most part, I enjoy learning
david_macaulay_live: and explaining once I've learned.
david_macaulay_live: Maybe I just like to show off.

isle_seet asks: What's the most awesome man-made creation in your point of view?
david_macaulay_live: That's a tough one.
david_macaulay_live: The Hoover Dam is a pretty good contender.
david_macaulay_live: That much concrete in that horrible place.
david_macaulay_live: Doing what it does ...
david_macaulay_live: it's pretty impressive.

jal92034 asks: How much has truly changed in physics between the Roman bridge and the Golden Gate?
david_macaulay_live: Physics ... nothing's changed in physics.
david_macaulay_live: Only our understanding has changed.
david_macaulay_live: The arch works now the way it worked then.
david_macaulay_live: The most obvious difference is the use of different material,
david_macaulay_live: the availability of steel which means it was suddenly
david_macaulay_live: possible to span these distances.
david_macaulay_live: If we'd used arches to span the Golden Gate ...
david_macaulay_live: well, we probably couldn't have
david_macaulay_live: because you have to hold it up every so often - blocking ship traffic.
david_macaulay_live: You couldn't have.
david_macaulay_live: It was necessary to have a different kind of solution available.
david_macaulay_live: Until steel was available, it probably was not possible
david_macaulay_live: to think about bridging the Golden Gate.
david_macaulay_live: It's more an improvement in materials and the ability to plan these structures.
david_macaulay_live: Particularly these days with computers and computer modeling.
david_macaulay_live: But the basic principles are the same.

booknut29 asks: How would you rank the Great Wall of China ?
david_macaulay_live: I would say that's one of the longest walls I've ever heard of ...
david_macaulay_live: but I've never seen it.
david_macaulay_live: I have to base an opinion on photographs.
david_macaulay_live: It's a tremendous achievement.
david_macaulay_live: I don't think that piling stone up to make a wall
david_macaulay_live: is that different.
david_macaulay_live: Getting the stone there to build a wall that long is something else all together.

xavier2011 asks: When can we see a THE WAY THINGS WORK DVD?
david_macaulay_live: I don't know.
david_macaulay_live: I just don't know.

magardener asks: What's your favorite structure? Why?
david_macaulay_live: It has to do with the best solution to the problem.
david_macaulay_live: It's always important to connect those things.
david_macaulay_live: The Golden Gate Bridge is beautiful to look at.
david_macaulay_live: It's also a wonderful solution.
david_macaulay_live: I don't know if it's my favorite ... but it's a very impressive
david_macaulay_live: structure and solution to the problem.
y_chat_diva: We're talking with BUILDING BIG host and THE WAY THINGS WORK author and illustrator David Macaulay -- Remember to ask David a question -- use the ASK A QUESTION box

tyler49686 asks: Would you ever consider building things like that or are you just interested in writing about them?
david_macaulay_live: I'm more interested in writing about them
david_macaulay_live: and in drawing them
david_macaulay_live: and finding out about them
david_macaulay_live: and helping people understand them.
david_macaulay_live: I have a degree in architecture,
david_macaulay_live: but I've never had a desire to build anything.
david_macaulay_live: Too many compromises.

l98shh3 asks: Where did you get this love for buildings?
david_macaulay_live: I got it as a child.
david_macaulay_live: It grew with me.
david_macaulay_live: I grew up in England ... northern England.
david_macaulay_live: I always enjoyed making things.
david_macaulay_live: As far back as I can remember.
david_macaulay_live: Paper ...
david_macaulay_live: or wood or string.
david_macaulay_live: The only thing I've tried to do in each of my models
david_macaulay_live: to distinguish them from other models ...
david_macaulay_live: is that I wanted them to work in some way.
david_macaulay_live: I wanted something to move in the model.
david_macaulay_live: Like elevators that went up and down inside larger boxes.
david_macaulay_live: The doors would open and close by pulling strings.
david_macaulay_live: I've enjoyed that as far back as I can remember.
david_macaulay_live: My parents have a lot to do with that.
david_macaulay_live: They're still both makers of things.
david_macaulay_live: My mother made clothes for us, drawings for us.
david_macaulay_live: My father made things out of wood that we needed in the house.
david_macaulay_live: I grew up being made very much aware of process,
david_macaulay_live: because I saw them being made.
david_macaulay_live: It inspired me to want to know how lots of things are made.
david_macaulay_live: More importantly,
david_macaulay_live: it reminded me that things ARE made.
david_macaulay_live: That there's a method, a system
david_macaulay_live: in how things come into being.
david_macaulay_live: They don't just appear.
david_macaulay_live: That's the most important thing I picked up as a child.

david_macaulay_live: I think it does in its towers.
david_macaulay_live: I think there are dampers in the two main towers of the bridge.
david_macaulay_live: It's a mile and a quarter or a half between the two very tall towers.
david_macaulay_live: To keep them light, they probably have dampers.
david_macaulay_live: They're used in most high towers now.
david_macaulay_live: Skyscrapers,
david_macaulay_live: suspension bridge towers ...
david_macaulay_live: any tall structure that is likely to be affected by the wind
david_macaulay_live: is probably using tuned-mass dampers.

booknut29 asks: Will the Eiffel Tower be included in the BUILDING BIG series ?
david_macaulay_live: The Eiffel Tower is in the skyscraper show, definitely.

a_vespers asks: What are the new technologies in building materials?
david_macaulay_live: Probably the most obvious is the use of computer modeling.
david_macaulay_live: Eiffel, in building his tower and his railway bridges, was using
david_macaulay_live: wind tunnels in the middle to late nineteenth century.
david_macaulay_live: Now we can model very precisely on the computer,
david_macaulay_live: which makes cable-stayed bridges possible.
david_macaulay_live: They're the most efficient of the new bridges in terms of materials used.
david_macaulay_live: They don't have the same span possibilities.
david_macaulay_live: Also, in this century, welding techniques have improved.
david_macaulay_live: Rivet connections ... now they weld and use high strength steel bolts.
david_macaulay_live: and that makes the building stiffer.
david_macaulay_live: which is one of the ways to fight the wind.
david_macaulay_live: Steel is being made stronger.
david_macaulay_live: There are new plastic materials being tested.
david_macaulay_live: but they're still in their infancy.
y_chat_diva: Do you think the Big Dig project is going to work?
david_macaulay_live: It will carry traffic under ground, under the city
david_macaulay_live: and they'll be able to dismantle the elevated highways.
david_macaulay_live: Will that make life in Boston any better?
david_macaulay_live: That remains to be seen.
david_macaulay_live: No question that it will, at least initially, eliminate an unattractive
david_macaulay_live: slice thru the city.
david_macaulay_live: But we're not making less cars
david_macaulay_live: or coming up with alternative means of transportation
david_macaulay_live: that would take cars off the road.
david_macaulay_live: I think that at best, we're burying the problem
david_macaulay_live: rather than solving it.

tyler49686 asks: Does the leaning tower of pisa lean due to poor architecture?
david_macaulay_live: It leans due to bad research, I suppose.
david_macaulay_live: When you plan for a structure, you're supposed to investigate
david_macaulay_live: the site conditions.
david_macaulay_live: They obviously misjudged the consistency of the ground
david_macaulay_live: where it was built.
david_macaulay_live: Any tower concentrates a great deal of weight on a very small space.
david_macaulay_live: If your ground below the tower is not the same under the entire base,
david_macaulay_live: you're likely to find part of the foundation sinking lower.
david_macaulay_live: Some may be natural
david_macaulay_live: Some you may compensate for ...
david_macaulay_live: but not as much as we see in the Leaning Tower.
david_macaulay_live: Every tower has to deal with it.
david_macaulay_live: That's why they send their foundations down many many feet.
david_macaulay_live: Some as many as 600 feet.

zippyiscool asks: I heard you live in RI -- do they have any cool structures I should visit?
david_macaulay_live: I live on a street that has its own suspension bridge.
david_macaulay_live: But you probably wouldn't want to make a trip to see it.
david_macaulay_live: It works.
david_macaulay_live: We do have a marble dome over the state Capitol.
david_macaulay_live: It's not unique, but it's noteworthy.
david_macaulay_live: I know I'll forget something ...
david_macaulay_live: One of the nicest structures is the old Slater Mill.
david_macaulay_live: A very humble wood frame building.
david_macaulay_live: But if you think about the problem of having to house
david_macaulay_live: machinery near a river that would run the machinery.
david_macaulay_live: No steel.
david_macaulay_live: But stone and wood to build with.
david_macaulay_live: It's a wonderful and efficient solution to the problem.
david_macaulay_live: Not monumental.
david_macaulay_live: Just good.

monsieurbix asks: What was the toughest ascent you made during filming?
david_macaulay_live: Inside the Golden Gate towers.
david_macaulay_live: It's a tiny two person elevator.
david_macaulay_live: I think there was a lightbulb, but it was very dark.
david_macaulay_live: It seemed to take forever.
david_macaulay_live: The other ascent that was different and far more tiring
david_macaulay_live: was inside one of the towers of the cathedral at Reims in France.
david_macaulay_live: You finally come out through a little door and you're on a ledge under
david_macaulay_live: the flying buttresses.
y_chat_diva: What's going thru your mind at that point?
david_macaulay_live: I'm still trying to remember my lines ...
david_macaulay_live: That's where my mind usually is.
david_macaulay_live: I have lines I've supposedly memorized.
david_macaulay_live: And they might ask me to do a drawing for the camera.
david_macaulay_live: So I'm trying to remember my lines and draw upside down
david_macaulay_live: to help people understand
david_macaulay_live: while trying not to be blown off the building.
david_macaulay_live: This is what's on your mind.

l98shh3 asks: You're an extraordinarily talented illustrator. Was it something that came easy to you, or did you really work on it?
david_macaulay_live: Thank you, first of all.
david_macaulay_live: I've been drawing for .... ever since third or fourth grade.
david_macaulay_live: My teacher hung up my still-wet picture of a fire engine.
david_macaulay_live: I was so excited by that attention.
david_macaulay_live: I must have decided to keep doing it because I like the attention.
david_macaulay_live: Of course, studying architecture I learned about a very specific matter.
david_macaulay_live: I found myself drawing more and more as a way of explaining
david_macaulay_live: to others ...
david_macaulay_live: but also as a way of understanding myself.
david_macaulay_live: It was a natural transition then
david_macaulay_live: to give up that professional line
david_macaulay_live: and move into full-fledged book making.

sobriquet_films asks: Who are your favorite architects?
david_macaulay_live: I have to look back at some of the Renaissance architects ...
david_macaulay_live: consider the cathedral builders ...
david_macaulay_live: some Who's names we don't know.
david_macaulay_live: They achieved some of the most extraordinary architecture.
david_macaulay_live: Modern ... Norman Foster is a very interesting architect.
david_macaulay_live: Frank Gehry is doing interesting stuff.
david_macaulay_live: It's nice to see imagination creeping back into
david_macaulay_live: even a highrise building.
david_macaulay_live: One that's in the book and not the movie
david_macaulay_live: is the Commerzbank in Frankfurt, Germany.
david_macaulay_live: It's about sixty stories, but most unusual.
david_macaulay_live: It shows that it's possible even there
david_macaulay_live: where your main concern is getting as much real estate
david_macaulay_live: as possible onto a site ...
david_macaulay_live: it can still be tackled with imagination.
david_macaulay_live: It's less overwhelming than a Sears Tower or a World Trade Center.
david_macaulay_live: Not that it has anywhere close to the floor space of those ...

david_macaulay_live: Uh .... Joe.
david_macaulay_live: I don't know.
david_macaulay_live: I don't know, these people.
david_macaulay_live: Good question.
y_chat_diva: umm.. the hoover dam association?
david_macaulay_live: People who make electricity ... ?
david_macaulay_live: Very interesting question.
david_macaulay_live: We were shown around by people who were a part of the operation.
david_macaulay_live: Maybe they were park service people.
david_macaulay_live: But I don't know.
y_chat_diva: Do you think dams get overlooked because they're not as snazzy as skyscrapers and bridges?
david_macaulay_live: I think they get overlooked because most are not on the beaten path -
david_macaulay_live: where you can sacrifice enormous chunks of real estate.
david_macaulay_live: That's the primary reason.
david_macaulay_live: The other is that people don't want to admit that in order to have
david_macaulay_live: electricity, we have to make some pretty brutal sacrifices.
david_macaulay_live: It's easier not to think about it.
david_macaulay_live: It's a trade-off.
david_macaulay_live: They're all trade-offs in many ways.
david_macaulay_live: They change everything once they're built.
david_macaulay_live: Dams change things more dramatically than any of the other structures.
david_macaulay_live: That's a high price.

booknut29 asks: Have you ascended the St. Louis Arch ?
david_macaulay_live: No, I have not.
david_macaulay_live: I have leaned against it ...
david_macaulay_live: looking up and admiring it.
david_macaulay_live: It's extraordinary.
david_macaulay_live: Just to look at it.
david_macaulay_live: The way it changes color, it's quite remarkable.
y_chat_diva: We're talking with BUILDING BIG host and THE WAY THINGS WORK author and illustrator David Macaulay -- Remember to ask David a question -- use the ASK A QUESTION box

tyler49686 asks: I love your books

tyler49686 asks: In the book THE WAY THINGS WORK. Why Didn't You Include The Rubix [sic] Cube?
david_macaulay_live: I couldn't figure it out.

monsieurbix asks: You've visited so many big structures. Did you get jaded?
david_macaulay_live: No, never. I got tired of hotels.
david_macaulay_live: We were so lucky in having the opportunity to visit these places.
david_macaulay_live: Never jaded by the structures themselves.
david_macaulay_live: Some old and some new.
david_macaulay_live: All really wonderful solutions to the problems that were
david_macaulay_live: confronted by engineers at different times in history.
david_macaulay_live: Working with the limits of technology and materials.
david_macaulay_live: You see the results of people pushing the limits as far
david_macaulay_live: as they can.
david_macaulay_live: For instance, in France, they built cathedrals that fell down
david_macaulay_live: during their constructions.
david_macaulay_live: How they knew they'd gone just a little too far.

l98shh3 asks: Are you still writing books? Any ideas you care to share?
david_macaulay_live: I'm definitely still writing books.
david_macaulay_live: I always have new ideas.
david_macaulay_live: They're all over the place.
david_macaulay_live: No specific project I could tell you about at the moment.
david_macaulay_live: I've always wanted to talk about the human body
david_macaulay_live: as a piece of engineering.
david_macaulay_live: I'm interested in archaelogical stuff
david_macaulay_live: and the history of the development of the globe
david_macaulay_live: as we know it.
david_macaulay_live: I don't know how to make that into a book at the moment
david_macaulay_live: but that doesn't stop me from reading and gathering information.
david_macaulay_live: And keeping my ears open.

wexley1466 asks: Are we going to keep building bigger? Can we safely?
david_macaulay_live: I don't know whether we're going to keep building bigger.
david_macaulay_live: We can. We can build as big as we need to.
david_macaulay_live: We can build taller skyscrapers.
david_macaulay_live: But do people want to use them if we go to 200 or 300 stories ...
david_macaulay_live: Who wants to be up there?
david_macaulay_live: I suppose there are people.
david_macaulay_live: I'm not one of them.
david_macaulay_live: There are certain fundamental requirements that we have
david_macaulay_live: as a growing population.
david_macaulay_live: We may not build this big stuff in the U.S. anymore.
david_macaulay_live: We may have built our biggest bridges and longest tunnels.
david_macaulay_live: But around the world where they are maybe trying to catch up with us ...
david_macaulay_live: we're going to see some big structures.
david_macaulay_live: Skyscrapers probably in the Orient.
david_macaulay_live: That's where the need is.
david_macaulay_live: Where the need is, is where these things will be built.
david_macaulay_live: Where populations are still growing.
david_macaulay_live: But to solve the problems we've solved in the past ...
david_macaulay_live: is going to require a lot of imagination.
david_macaulay_live: And other kinds of solutions.

jal92034 asks: Did you ever think you'd be traveling the globe doing a series like this? Was it fun to do?
david_macaulay_live: No, I never did think that I would be seeing all these structures
david_macaulay_live: It was one of those dream projects.
david_macaulay_live: I was lucky to be there and benefit from this experience.

zippyiscool asks: You're happy on the ground? ... are you afraid of heights?
david_macaulay_live: No, I'm not afraid of heights at all.
david_macaulay_live: I've been up very high ...
david_macaulay_live: it's not a matter of fear, but of scale.
david_macaulay_live: When I think about cities with skyscrapers ...
david_macaulay_live: these are building that change the way we feel about ourselves.
david_macaulay_live: I think that the skyscrapers we can build, especially when we group them
david_macaulay_live: together ... like 6th avenue ...
david_macaulay_live: and turn it into a canyon ...
david_macaulay_live: we become .... smaller.
david_macaulay_live: We feel smaller.
david_macaulay_live: We feel less significant.
david_macaulay_live: That is an impact ... it's not something I want to feel.
david_macaulay_live: I choose to live in a city where the tallest buildings are still
david_macaulay_live: the church towers.
david_macaulay_live: Or the bridge on our road.
david_macaulay_live: Give me a scale we can relate to.
david_macaulay_live: Even if its tall ... like the cathedral in France ...
david_macaulay_live: Monumental creations in the midst of a normal city.
david_macaulay_live: Their bigness is not overwhelming, it's inspiring.
david_macaulay_live: But if you put fifty cathedrals together side by side on both
david_macaulay_live: sides of the street ...
david_macaulay_live: they would not be inspiring.
david_macaulay_live: Just dominating.
david_macaulay_live: Dehumanizing, even.

cherrysicle12 asks: David, hi i am doing a report for our algebra class, its on three gorges dam. pbs just did a report about it but i missed it and wanted to ask if you knew how i could get a copy of it.
david_macaulay_live: I would get online ..
david_macaulay_live: because it should be there and available in some shape or form.

tyler49686 asks: What's your veiw on roller coasters?
david_macaulay_live: Changing. I haven't been on one in a while, but we did visit
david_macaulay_live: an amusement park in Kansas City.
david_macaulay_live: We went on all four of the coasters ... from the modern to the ...
david_macaulay_live: "timber wolf", or something like that.
david_macaulay_live: Once I'd done it, I was glad I did it.
david_macaulay_live: But I'm not sure I actually enjoyed the experience as it was happening.
david_macaulay_live: But I like being a survivor.

wexley1466 asks: What's the most unusual place you've found yourself, finding out how something works?
david_macaulay_live: The Serapeum. It's an excavated tomb complex in Egypt
david_macaulay_live: at Saqqara.
david_macaulay_live: It was a complex of tunnels off which huge tombs were dug
david_macaulay_live: for the burial of bulls.
david_macaulay_live: The bulls were placed in enormous sarcophagi.
david_macaulay_live: Big coffins.
david_macaulay_live: LOL
david_macaulay_live: I've never been in a bull burial place before.
david_macaulay_live: There was a whole ceremony.
david_macaulay_live: I can't remember the reasons why they buried bulls.
david_macaulay_live: But it was significant for them.
david_macaulay_live: It was pretty strange.

a_vespers asks: Other than the obvious, how is 'things' to work in outer space?
david_macaulay_live: That's a new line of research. I wax and wane on what's going on in space.
david_macaulay_live: In terms of my interest ...
david_macaulay_live: whether I would want to find out about it ...
david_macaulay_live: I don't know enough about it.
david_macaulay_live: You're asking the wrong person.

mystikalhott2000 asks: How long did it take you to write your first book?
david_macaulay_live: If we start with the ideas that didn't go anywhere,
david_macaulay_live: it took a couple of years.
david_macaulay_live: Once I decided on the book, I did my reading over probably three months.
david_macaulay_live: I did the text and layout probably within a monthat the most.
david_macaulay_live: The illustrations over two months.
david_macaulay_live: The whole thing took probably six months at the most
david_macaulay_live: once I was on the right track.
david_macaulay_live: It's getting to the track that can be really time consuming.

tyler49686 asks: Has it been a dream of yours to travel and illustrate?
david_macaulay_live: Actually, I do like being in interesting places.
david_macaulay_live: I don't like to travel.
david_macaulay_live: I do like illustrating.
david_macaulay_live: But more than that, I enjoy the process of learning about the stuff
david_macaulay_live: that I'm going to illustrate.
david_macaulay_live: The actual making of the project is not that great.
david_macaulay_live: It's the process behind that I find so exciting.

kdando asks: Which of the five episodes was your most favorite to make?
david_macaulay_live: Maybe the dam one. Because I saw really big things in Brazil, for instance. Things I had never thought
david_macaulay_live: about at that scale.
david_macaulay_live: I knew what to expect with everything else.
david_macaulay_live: But with dams, I didn't know what to expect.
david_macaulay_live: I didn't even know about the ancient Egyptian dam.
david_macaulay_live: We went to this place where the remains of the dam are.
david_macaulay_live: It was other wordly and very strange.
david_macaulay_live: That was my favorite because it was the most unexpected.

wexley1466 asks: Can I get your book for BUILDING BIG at
david_macaulay_live: Yeah, you can.
david_macaulay_live: Somehow.
david_macaulay_live: They promote it after the shows along with the tapes.
david_macaulay_live: Also Amazon and within days, any bookstore.

tyler49686 asks: Which architecture subject was the most fun to write about?
david_macaulay_live: One was a book I did a long time ago called UNBUILDING,
david_macaulay_live: about the dismantling of the Empire State Building.
david_macaulay_live: The idea was that to unbuild something that big,
david_macaulay_live: you'd have to do it in the reverse order of the way it was made.

monsieurbix asks: What's your favorite skyscraper? Why?
david_macaulay_live: At the moment, I have to say the Commerzbank
david_macaulay_live: in Frankfurt, Germany.
david_macaulay_live: There may be others as imaginative ...
david_macaulay_live: but it is so logical in the way it solves the problem.
david_macaulay_live: If you can use 'skyscraper' and 'humane' in the same sentence ...
david_macaulay_live: that's what it does.
david_macaulay_live: They break the blocks of offices into eigth floor high blocks.
david_macaulay_live: And leave a big space for a garden.
david_macaulay_live: And another eight stories, then a four story block.
david_macaulay_live: They move around in a spiral around this triangular building.
david_macaulay_live: Inside, wherever you are, you look across the apex at one of the gardens
david_macaulay_live: and also out across the surrounding city.
david_macaulay_live: You're connected to everyone else in the building.
david_macaulay_live: And brings nature in.
david_macaulay_live: And it feels less massive and overwhelming
david_macaulay_live: because it's broken into smaller pieces.
david_macaulay_live: It's still a skyscraper, however.

sanibelnow asks: How do you like your affiliation with National Geographic? Are you satisfied with them?
david_macaulay_live: I've been a subscriber for many years.
david_macaulay_live: As long as it keeps coming, I'm very happy.
david_macaulay_live: This is the only affiliation I have with National Geographic ...
david_macaulay_live: My affiliation is with PBS ...
david_macaulay_live: but not with National Geographic.
y_chat_diva: There are three episodes of BUILDING BIG left. What do they cover?
david_macaulay_live: Next week ... skyscrapers.
david_macaulay_live: Cathedrals.
david_macaulay_live: Towers of Tuscany.
david_macaulay_live: Petronas Towers of Malaysia.
david_macaulay_live: After that ...
david_macaulay_live: dams
david_macaulay_live: From Brazil to U.S. to Egypt.
david_macaulay_live: The week after that ... we end underground
david_macaulay_live: with the most humble of pieces of civil engineering ...
david_macaulay_live: tunnels.
david_macaulay_live: The Channel Tunnel.
david_macaulay_live: The difficulty of digging some of the earlier tunnels ...
david_macaulay_live: brutal.
david_macaulay_live: In the ancient tunnels, thousands of lives were probably lost.
david_macaulay_live: By nature, they're the ones that will probably last the longest.
y_chat_diva: Thank you so much David for chatting with us tonight
david_macaulay_live: Thank you very much. This was great.

tyler49686 asks: Bye-bye david. Thanks a lot.
y_chat_diva: Be sure to check out BUILDING BIG on PBS on Tuesdays in October
y_chat_diva: and check out the website at
y_chat_diva: Thanks everyone!