13th Annual CTBUH Awards Symposium

More than 500 delegates attended the daytime CTBUH Awards Symposium, featuring presentations by all the winners and featured finalists

“Best Tall Building,” other awards announced.

The 13th Annual Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) Awards Symposium occurred on November 6, 2014, on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago. The event consisted of three sessions (each of which included four presentations), followed by a reception and awards dinner. This event remains unique in bringing together architects, engineers and clients to discuss and celebrate the challenges and achievements associated with tall building design.

CTBUH has consistently sought to find new ways to expand our understanding of tall buildings and their impact on our urban environments. Accordingly, this year’s symposium included the inauguration of two new awards: the CTBUH Performance Award and the CTBUH Urban Habitat Award. The Performance Award “was established to help the tall-building industry reverse a persistent and counterproductive trend – the resistance of building owners and managers to releasing valuable performance data, particularly energy data, from which the entire industry could benefit.” The Urban Habitat Award “recognizes significant contributions to the urban realm, in connection with tall buildings. In particular, it highlights projects that demonstrate a positive contribution to the surrounding environment, add to the social sustainability of both their immediate and wider settings, and represent design influenced by context, both environmental and cultural.” The winners in these and other categories are in Table 1.

In addition to presentations that addressed the winning projects and lifetime achievement accolades, the symposium also included presentations on the United Nations (UN) Secretariat Building in New York City (Americas regional finalist) and the FKI Tower in Seoul, South Korea (Asia & Australasia regional finalist).

CTBUH received 88 entries from around the world for the Best Tall Building awards. The largest number of entries was from “Asia & Australasia,” followed by “Americas,” “Europe” and “Middle East & Africa.” This year’s group of entries was remarkable in that it contained a number of renovation projects, including the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building and UN Secretariat Building. A second noticeable theme was the incorporation of vertical greenery (living walls) in new ways: representative projects included One Central Park in Sydney; Abeno Harukas in Osaka, Japan; and Ideo Morph 38 in Bangkok.

According to Jeanne Gang, awards jury chair and founding principal of Studio Gang Architects in Chicago:

“The submissions this year reflect the incredible diversity of tall buildings being built around the world. Even more so, they reflect the dawning of a global recognition that tall buildings have a critical role to play in a rapidly changing climate and urban environment.”

The 2014 event marked the first time an architectural firm won the overall Best Tall Building award for a second time. Ateliers Jean Nouvel, designer of One Central Park, also designed the 2012 Best Tall Building winner, Doha Tower, in Doha, Qatar. There was, in fact, a strong chance of a repeat winner of the overall title because the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) – architect of De Rotterdam – won last year for the CCTV Building in Beijing. This year, Ellen van Loon, a partner in OMA, represented the firm.

At first glance, De Rotterdam appears to be the most conservative of the four regional winners. However, closer inspection reveals the subtle complexity of the building, which breaks its overall form into discrete volumes that are carefully arranged to create a dynamic design, as was observed by the awards jury, which stated:

“De Rotterdam subverts accepted notions of how a skyscraper is supposed to behave. While the collective massing suggests a refined and simple monolith, the slightest change of perspective reveals secondary and tertiary complexities. Sunsets cascade through the small gaps between the offset upper volumes, as if the building is some kind of ancient timekeeping device.”

Perhaps the most interesting presentations of the Symposium concerned the renovations of the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building and UN Secretariat Building. The former project was presented by James Cutler (founding partner, Cutler Anderson Architects) and Leslie Shepherd (chief architect, General Services Administration). Cutler, who has long been recognized for his profound commitment to sustainable design, applied his talents to a difficult challenge: the transformation of a 1974 “concrete monolith” into a 21st century “green machine.” The solution was a new building skin and roof design that created an energy-efficient building and added 9,499 m2 of new rental floor space. Gang described the project as “a significant transformation, both from a performance and urban perspective; this renovated federal building demonstrates how buildings need not be destroyed to gain new life.” A presentation on the renovation of the UN Secretariat Building was given by Michael Adlerstein (assistant secretary-general and executive director, UN Capital Master Plan) and John Gering (managing partner, HLW International).

As it has since 2008, CTBUH published an accompanying book that highlights the award nominees and winners: Best Tall Buildings: A Global Overview of 2014 Skyscrapers. One of the consistent strengths of the organization has been providing as much information as possible about the participants involved in a particular project: from owners/developers, to architects, to engineers, to specialized consultants. The latter group includes vertical-transportation consultants: 19 such firms in 74 total submissions. A survey of the book reveals an interesting – and international – collection of firms:

  • H.H. Angus & Associates, Ltd., Canada
  • Coheco S.A., Ecuador
  • Jappsen Ingenieure GmbH, Germany
  • El-Rom Consulting Engineering, Ltd., Israel
  • S. Lustig Engineers & Consultants, Ltd., Israel
  • Hilson Moran, U.K.
  • Fortune Consultants, Ltd., U.S.
  • Lerch Bates Inc., U.S.
  • Jenkins & Huntington, Inc., U.S.
  • Van Deusen & Associates, U.S.
  • Edgett Williams Consulting Group, Inc., U.S.
  • AECOM, U.S.
  • Projitech, South Africa

The Best Tall Buildings book also includes information on the nominees for other awards. Products nominated for the Innovation Award included LiftEye (ELEVATOR WORLD, June 2014), developed by Stein Ltd. of St. Petersburg, Russia; the Mathematics and Mechanical Faculty of St. Petersburg State University; and LM Liftmaterial GmbH of Pliening, Germany.

At the awards dinner, CTBUH named two new Fellows, who were “recognized for their contribution to the council over an extended period of time, and in recognition of their work and the sharing of their knowledge in the design and construction of tall buildings and the urban habitat.” The 2014 Fellows are Peter Weismantle (director of Supertall Building Technology at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture) and Johannes de Jong (head of Technology, KONE). Thus, as has been the case in past CTBUH awards symposia, the vertical-transportation industry was both present and represented in a variety of ways at this important event.

CTBUH Holds Shanghai Conference

by Lee Freeland

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) had a busy week on September 16-19 in Shanghai, where it held its “Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism” event. The primary debate of the conference was to “drive thinking beyond just buildings, to considering cities as a whole.” Best practices some cities in the world are already doing, and ideas for what could be done, were examined. Additionally, Kohn Pedersen Fox Principal David Malott became CTBUH chairman, two contest results were announced, and ways to broaden council membership and improve effectiveness were debated by its leaders.

The 2014 International Research Seed Funding grant was awarded to a team led by the University of Southern California School of Architecture (USC). Recipients received a grant of US$20,000 from the East China Architectural Design & Research Institute (ECADI) to conduct research on façade retrofits for tall buildings. This contest was created to assist researchers in developing projects and ideas to a level that can secure more significant funding, in the form of collaborations and joint proposals, in conjunction with CTBUH.

The other contest was the Third Annual CTBUH International Student Design Competition. Sponsored by ISA Architecture, the first prize was presented by the council to the “Clean Air Tower” by Alex Balchin from the University of Nottingham. A combination of vertical architecture with industrial air-cleaning technologies and self-generated power, it is intended to make use of the stack effect to clean 8.5 million m3 of air per year for residents, office workers and citizens of Tianjin, China.

The second prize was awarded to the “Vertical Aquaponic Farm” by Matthew Humphries, also of the University of Nottingham. It proposed a framework for vertical farming for a site in Singapore, which imports 97% of its food from abroad. Third place went to the “Dust-Collecting Skyscraper” by Hong Seob Ahn from the University of Seoul, which proposes an air-purifying system on a high-rise building, cleaning both indoor and outdoor air. The competition received 288 submissions from 47 countries.

CTBUH has launched a website (www.ctbuh2015.com) for its 2015 conference “Global Interchanges: Resurgence of the Skyscraper City.” The event will be held in New York City on October 26-30. The deadline for CTBUH members to submit abstracts for paper presentations is January 30.

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Dr. Lee Gray, professor of Architectural History and senior associate dean of the College of Arts + Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has written more than 200 monthly articles on the history of vertical transportation (VT) for ELEVATOR WORLD since 2003. He is also the author of From Ascending Rooms to Express Elevators: A History of the Passenger Elevator in the 19th Century. He also serves as curator of theelevatormuseum.org, created by Elevator World, Inc.

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