October 25th marked the annual Steering Group meeting which brought twenty-five CTBUH members from around the world to a table discussion on new and exciting Council initiatives for the upcoming year and the notable progress of the past one. Gathered inside Rem Koolhaas’ McCormick Tribune Center at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the direction of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat was strengthened through the support and energy of those that attended.
The Steering Group was formed to oversee the Council’s progress and advise on its future direction. The group consists of the Executive Committee, members engaged in an active role on the Council such as Country Leaders and members of Working Groups, and also representatives from CTBUH’s Supporting Contributors. Attendees included: Mir Ali (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne), Carl Baldassarra (Schirmer Engineering), James Bonnano (De Simone Engineers), Jim Bos (KONE), Charles Carter (American Institute of Steel Construction), Gene Corley (CTL Group), Mahjoub EINimeiri (Illinois Institute of Technology), Tom Friedstein (Hillier Architecture), Mayank Ghandi (Remaking of Mumbai Federation), Paul James (Bovis Lend Lease), Tim Johnson(NBBJ), Geri Kery (CTBUH), Charles Killebrew (Pickard Chilton), George von Klan (GVK-ECS), Jan Klerks (Dutch Council on Tall Buildings), Simon Lay (WSP Group), Tom McCool (Turner International), Moira Moser (M. Moser Associates), Sabah Al-Rayas (Pan Arab Consulting Engineers), Jerry Reich (Horvath Reich CDC), Mark Sarkisan (Skidmore Owings and Merrill), David Scott (Ove Arup), Steve Watts (Davis Langdon LLP), and Antony Wood (CTBUH). Observers of the proceedings included Natalie Brush (Halvorson and Partners) and Philip Oldfield (University of Nottingham).
After a brief review of the past year’s progress, the Steering Group began the task of evaluating proposals for the upcoming year. The theme of each initiative was in-line with the basic mission of the council: to disseminate information on tall buildings and healthy urban environments, to maximize the international interaction of professionals involved in creating the built environment, and to make the latest knowledge available to professionals in a useful form. The proposed ideas included specific new publications (see below), assembling an online tall building knowledge base, expanding the Council’s online forum, and creating a new research division. In order to accomplish these considerable goals, it was voted upon to hire three new, full-time staff members – a research director, a publications director / author and a production assistant.
The Steering group reviewed a handful of new publication ideas. “The History of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat” was approved to be released in 2009 – the Council’s 40-year anniversary. The book will be a graphic history of the Council from its inception in 1969 to the current day. An enthusiastically supported proposal was the creation of “The Encyclopedia of the Skyscraper,” which will invite the contributions of the many tall building experts within the CTBUH network, In addition, Antony Wood, Executive Director, brought a mock-up print of a proposed “CTBUH InfoArchives” to illustrate how the Council could document the industry news of today. The book will be a bound collection of tall building articles printed by various news sources that will be published quarterly. Lastly, a series of “Tall Building Source Guides” was suggested as a printed documentation of the CTBUH Working Groups’ research and efforts. Each working group would submit findings to the Council for review and ultimately, the distribution among design professionals as a series of design guides. All these publications were proposed and accepted as a positive step forward for the council in fulfilling its mission of disseminating information to the public and design professionals.
To further support the distribution of information and knowledge throughout the industry, the Steering Group approved the creation of a new Research division within the Council, with the appointment of a new Research Director. This division would generate funding for multi-disciplinary tall building research, in conjunction with industrial partners. The findings of the research would be for the benefit of the entire tall building community internationally.
The Council recently created a new feature on its website - “Tall Building Knowledge Base” - where information from design professionals will be assembled to form a “go-to” source for all information related to the tall building industry. The Steering Group expanded on this idea to include partnering with another group, such as Google or Wikipedia, to create an expansive search and database feature. In addition, the Council’s current online forum will be upgraded and mediated. The final product of these plans is to create a central core for tall building information and exchange on the CTBUH website.
The Council is taking a more active role in the industry and to accomplish the aggressive list of initiatives for the coming year and beyond, it was decided to hire three new full-time staff members. Following a unanimous vote, the search for a research director, publications director, and production assistant is now underway. The Research Director is to oversee the new Research division, generate research funding, and coordinate the research efforts of the Council. The second new hire would be a Publications Director / author, preferably with experience in tall buildings or construction. The author would support the research and authorship of many of the anticipated CTBUH publications and also applications for funding. The third staff member is a production assistant who will likely be a recently graduated Masters-level student of Architecture or other discipline with graphic and production skills, as well as an understanding of buildings, to assist in all levels of CTBUH production. This would include the CTBUH Journal, conferences and congresses, publications, research, and the Council web site. The addition of these three staff members will allow the Council to support the advancement of the tall building industry through the research and publication of relevant information.
The second half of the Steering Group meeting addressed internal issues that affect the productivity of the Council. After a lengthy discussion, a task group was formed to define the role of the many Council groups and create a vision and strategy for the Steering Group. It was also decided that each Working Group would define their output, goals, and a time-line of production so that the Council could follow up on progress. A system of communication is also being studied to allow the working groups, steering group, and others to communicate within the Council. Hopefully these actions will yield more output from the Council and more collaboration between its individual components.
Over the past year, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat has picked up momentum and a new vitality to facilitate exchanges among industry professionals and to educate the public. This was fostered by the initiatives reviewed in last year’s Steering Group meeting and include the launching of the new website, creating the CTBUH Tall Building Newsletter, founding the Resource Center at the Council headquarters, redesigning the CTBUH journal, and increased collaboration on conferences around the world. The outcome of this year’s Steering Group meeting is a slate of initiatives that exceeds the proposals of last year but the Council believes each one is important and feasible and we hope you find their inception a positive step forward.