It is difficult to believe that, in just a few short months, we will gather in Shanghai for the 9th CTBUH World Congress. So much has changed in the 22 years since I attended my first overseas CTBUH Congress, held in Hong Kong in 1990. While this change is most notably associated with the spectacular rate of development in Asia, its importance reaches beyond that of a booming economy. The technological advancements of the past two decades have catapulted humanity, and our profession, to a level of globalization that was unimaginable in 1990. At the time of the 4th World Congress, the political, cultural, and economic barriers between mainland China and the rest of the world, including Hong Kong, were undeniably pronounced. Twenty years later, China is the epicenter of urbanization and tall building construction. In 1990, one of the ten tallest buildings in the world was in Asia; the Bank of China Tower, located in Hong Kong. Now, China is home to five of the ten tallest, including the International Commerce Centre, also located in Hong Kong (which is no longer British, but now a part of China). The world of development, design and construction has changed in remarkable ways. Not the least of which is the globalization of tall buildings.
It is with this in mind that I strongly encourage all members of the CTBUH to attend September’s Shanghai Congress. Held approximately every 4 years, the CTBUH World Congress is the pre-eminent gathering for tall building professionals. While other organizations may promote conferences on tall buildings, the Council is the only one organized by the active participation of major global design firms, contractors and developers. Think about that for a second. Developers such as Shanghai Tower and Tishman Speyer; contractors like the China Construction First Division Group and Turner; and a multitude of design firms. All gathered in the same place at the same time. Beyond providing valuable networking opportunities, the Congress is a meeting of extraordinary minds – a modern day agora. It’s where competitors become colleagues; here, industry leaders can debate, philosophize, trade ideas, and create strategies that will change the face of the cities in which we live, work and play. For developers, contractors and professionals in developing regions, it affords access to the global leaders that are defining 21st century city building.
The 2012 Congress is appropriately titled “Asia Ascending: Age of the Skyscraper City,” and yet, the importance of Asia’s ascent can be quantified on levels beyond height, density or economic strength. Yes, Asia continues to gain prominence in the global marketplace. Yes, it is home to 85% of the world’s 20 tallest buildings and over half the world’s population; but, it is likely also where our professional response to sustainability concerns will either rise to meet the challenging demands of an ever-growing global population, or miss the mark. By the year 2050, China is expecting a migration of around 400 million people into its currently developing cities. Our response to this unprecedented population growth in an era of limited natural resources presents a defining opportunity; it will forever impact the way we practice and more importantly, it will forever impact the health and future of all our cities, as well as those who inhabit them.
Asia will be the place where sustainable cities and buildings reach a new level. The tremendous volume of new construction there creates an opportunity to embrace recent cutting edge technologies. Asia is also uniquely situated to lead the world in the creation of new technologies. By providing a forum like the World Congress, the Council is spearheading the push for new practices and new applications of sustainable technologies. The Shanghai Congress presents attendees with a prime opportunity to discuss strategies for China and other Asian countries that have reached critical junctures in their development. It also provides a foothold for continued association with our peers working across the globe. Whether you live in Europe, America, the Middle East, Australia or Asia, we all seek a common goal: high-quality, functional design that is as economically and environmentally responsible as it is beautiful.