The ingenious idea that could change the perception of B’ham forever!

DNA Helix Tower
DNA Helix Tower

Today’s guest columnist is Vance Wesson.

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Seattle has the Space Needle… Dallas–the Reunion Tower.

Visit the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio or the Calgary Tower in Alberta Canada.

Wow! What an experience!

But all of them, including the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas, and the Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls are similar in design.

Vance Wesson
Vance Wesson

Introducing–an idea totally unique to Birmingham–the Birmingham DNA Helix Tower.

Think about it for a minute.

Vulcan represents Birmingham’s industrial past–the DNA Helix Tower–Birmingham’s future.

There’s no question Birmingham is a world class leader in medical research.  Tourists passing down the freeway would never know the creative, mental powers pulsating inside the bricks and glass.

DNA Helix Tower (Vance Wesson)
DNA Helix Tower (Vance Wesson)

The DNA Tower would be a tasteful, colorful signal to the passing travelers that there’s a lot more to this city than anyone would have ever imagined.

Surely visitors would love to buy a ticket and ride the glass-enclosed elevator to the top of the tower and take in magnificent vistas in the daytime and an unbelievable, dazzling display close-up and miles away at night.

They could dine at a world-class restaurant slowly revolving at the top.  After all, Birmingham is becoming a foodie attraction.

All the while the latest and most nuanced breakthrough’s flicker in writing across two screens at street level.  Through the spirals, arcs and rods of the tower colors pulsate in areas on the two as it takes on anthropomorphic, abstract quality.

DNA Tower quick thoughts:

  • Height of tower: 600 to 700 ft.  (Space Needle in Seattle is 605 ft., Gateway Arch in St. Louis   630 ft.)
  • Open-spaced tower, not enclosed in glass
  • At the very top a glass-enclosed viewing area
  • Slow revolving restaurant at the top (in the manner of the Renaissance Tower in Florence, AL
  • At the base, two large screens reporting medical breakthroughs all over the world, one screen written in the esoteric jargon of the researchers and a second screen written in down-to-earth form for the tourist and the rest of us.
  • The width: to be determined by aesthetic judgment with reasonable wideness to contain the circular restaurant and sightseeing circle. (The Space Needle saucer is 138 ft. wide). Artistically it would seem to be near the width of the Regions Tower or the Wells Fargo skyscraper downtown.

The tower could, for instance, have special color lighting one-fifth of the way down signaling some breakthrough in neck and shoulder research.  This information from as far away as Tokyo or London would show the great international efforts that are taking place in unison with the incredible work done in Birmingham.

These discovery configurations in many forms could manifest themselves along the tower structure as best as possible limited to the spirals, arcs and rods offered by the tower itself and not forgetting color.  I am not a scientist!  So maybe the science guys can come together on some simple signaling and color to match the clarity of the screens at street level.

The DNA Tower could be located anywhere around UAB or downtown deemed aesthetically attractive.

Vance Wesson grew up in the Florence area, but has lived in Birmingham for 40 years. He has a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Mississippi. He’s currently a Library Assistant at Samford University Law Library and a practicing artist.

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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

Invite David to speak for free to your group about how we can have a more prosperous metro Birmingham.

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32 thoughts on “The ingenious idea that could change the perception of B’ham forever!”

  1. I like the idea of this, but I don’t see it happening for lack of space especially if they want to place it somewhere near the school or hospital. The concept and potential design all sound nice.

  2. This would be awesome. It would be a unique addition to the Birmingham skyline…a sound representation of the greatness found in our city. Let’s do it!

  3. This would be awesome; I would love to see it happen. It’s a sound representation of some of the fantastic things that we have going on in our city. Let’s do it!

  4. Interesting and artsy idea, but who’s writing the check for this? Sorry, but I think this is a waste of money. Who is going to pay for building and maintenance? There are better things to invest money in. If some donors paid, go for it, but not with taxpayer funds please.

    1. Maybe you could put it next to Vulcan, The Past and The Future. Or put it over around the new stadium, it would look better than the Top Golf facility with its poles and nets sticking up in the air.

  5. This project gets my vote! Birmingham needs a spectacle that will draw people in to see the beauty and uniqueness of our city.

  6. While it’s a nice idea, from a practical point I believe there are height restrictions in downtown Birmingham due to the airport.

    May I offer an alternative? Why not partner with the McWane Center. There are plenty of vacant buildings nearby that could be renovated and retask for such a purpose.

  7. Spectacular idea! An out-of-state tourist draw that is not linked to racial inequality, the Klan, and police violence…wonderful. I’d be for it.

    But UAB (and downtown) needs parking far more than a pretty tourist draw. Already, elderly friends of mine sometime spend two hours looking for a place to park and see their doctor…and those are the ones who lives here. What about the folks who drive 1-2 hours just to get to Bham?

  8. People already come to Birmingham for the history – great idea to introduce them to the awesome research going on here. For example – just saw that UAB researchers are involved with the medicine to combat the Coronavirus. Boom.
    Thanks for this great idea – let’s make it happen.

  9. Vance, just like the city you promote, your vision is leading edge. What a way to show case Birmingham’s unique accomplishments and love of art.

  10. Artistic innovation, much needed throughout the world! This will elevate the culture and surrounding areas alike.

  11. This is a phenomenal idea to visually display the wealth of research and medical resources in Birmingham. Combine that with enhancing the Birmingham skyline and topping it off with a first class experience – day or night – with such a unique restaurant. Every aspect is covered. BOOM!

    1. I too, love this idea for our ever growing ‘Magic City’. Birmingham has come a long way in the entertainment and restaurant arenas and this would be the ‘ribbon’ on top!! It is also a beautiful shout out to our world renown UAB Hospital and School and all the Research happening there! Please reserve a table for two for myself, an RN and for my Husband, a Doctor (Anesthesiologist). We would both love to see this along the Birmingham skyline!!

  12. I and my husband would LOVE to see this across the Birmingham skyline! What a perfect compliment to an already growing city with so much entertainment and restaurants!! Also, a perfect nod to our amazing UAB, Children’s, amd St Vincent’s Hospitals! Mr Vance has an amazing imagination and I believe our city would definitely benefit from this beautiful attraction!!
    You have a vote of ‘YES’ from myself, an RN and my Husband, an Anesthesiologist/Pain physician!!
    God Speed,

  13. I think this is a wonderful idea. The above “naysayers” aren’t realizing how large cities must continually be looking for opportunities to brand and market their city. I think this would be a great addition to a city that is becoming more forward thinking and can serve as an attraction to the new entertainment district near the civic center.

  14. I’ve heard lots of people talk with pride about the great medical research done in Birmingham. Most of them, like me, are not medical people, but they do want to cheer on the work.

    Researchers are not going to run up and down the field and hear us yell our support. They are not going to fill up the Civic Center performing for us a rousing rock concert. So, we’re at a loss to show our excitement.

    The research buildings are dark and uninviting. We can’t walk in and gawk. I understand.

    So what can we everyday Joes do to feel the slightest participation? We can go up into the DNA Tower, see great views, dine in the exclusive restaurant if we so choose or save that for a special celebration, ride the elevator down and walk the streets near the tower. We can visit tasteful souvenir shops with tower posters, cards, T-shirts and all kinds of gifts. We can drink coffee or dine a half-a-block away and talk about the discoveries flashing on the jumbo screens. We can be Walter Mitty for a few moments as we receive the Nobel Prize!

    We may even see some of our white coat heroes stroll by. “Wow, they must be from India, look she may be from Japan. “I’ve heard of some from Hungary, Brazil or Kenya.” All that us ordinary Joes want is just a little tangible participation.

    1. I do have a medical background and spent 45 years in healthcare. It isn’t glamorous and those of us who are (or were) in the trenches do not expect anyone to “get it.” A double helix tower just doesn’t make sense. UAB needs only its reputation to make the city a draw…and some danged better parking.

      You witty (?) comment about: “Wow, they must be from India, look she may be from Japan. “I’ve heard of some from Hungary, Brazil or Kenya,” borders on racism and ethnic slurs…it should NOT be tolerated on comebacktown!

  15. This is such a cool idea. I love the idea of highlighting what we all know about Birmingham, but the rest of the world does not (know). I also think the design is awesome. Good job Vance!

    1. Birmingham is such a great southern city with a great history of civil rights. And of course everyone knows of Birmingham’s industry. Of its iron and steel. But our city has been for decades a leader in medical education and research. A bold idea this is showcasing Birmingham’s modern contribution to the world. Its future contribution to the world.

  16. Amazing!!! I think this project is perfect for such a time as this. It seems if Birmingham did this, the city would be one of the first to say we are stronger than ever in the medical field and this will always pay homage to the things Alabama did along with the world to further medical research.

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