Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
CTBUH Leader's Message

July 2012

TJ Timothy Johnson AIA LEED AP
CTBUH Chairman
Partner, NBBJ

It is hard to believe that half the year is behind us. Our heads have been down with preparations for the upcoming CTBUH World Congress to be hosted in one of the world’s most exciting cities -- Shanghai -- slated for September 19-21 at the Grand Hyatt Jin Mao convention center. We have more than 100 speakers and numerous technical tours confirmed, and already more than 500 delegates have registered, assuring that this ninth Congress will be the Council’s most significant to-date.  I highly recommend you register soon for the event as it is very likely with our limited capacity that the event will sell out prior to my opening remarks.

At any given time over the course of the year, there are many exciting things happening within the Council. June is always a busy month for our awards program with lifetime achievement awards, best tall building selections, and this year the newly formed Innovation Award and the Building Performance Award. The awards program continues to draw top candidates and projects from around the world. The juries had their work cut out for them, however decisions were made on all categories. I would like to congratulate all winners and thank everyone for the time and effort they put into assembling their submissions. It is greatly appreciated by the Council and, most importantly, it is a wonderful way for us to showcase the tall building industry. I can’t wait for our awards ceremony in October in Chicago to congratulate everyone in person, and to see who takes the Best Overall Tall Building award!

However, if there was one disappointment in the awards program this year it was the lack of submissions for the Building Performance award. We only received a small handful of entries and the jury decided that it was not appropriate to award any of the submissions due to the small number. It made us ask the question – were we clear on what we were asking? After careful thought, it became clear that the industry is in its infancy in measuring building performance. Measuring, we found, is the tricky part due to the lack of protocol and tools. With this awareness we hope to prompt further progress in this regard and hope we will see better results in the future.

This disappointment was short lived for me personally when I saw a strong glimmer of hope for the future. A few weeks ago there was an announcement of a proposed new world’s tallest announced by the Broad Group in China, which is proposing to construct a tower of 838 meters in three months. With a heavy degree of caution I canvased their press release and although I am not a subscriber of speed for speed's sake, I was struck by the significant degree of off-site mass production and on-site assembling obviously necessary to pull this off. This is the same group that constructed a 30-story hotel in 30 days – successfully
and I think that this is by far the most radical thinking in high rise construction today, which therefore offers incredible insight and learning.

Many China observers are skeptical the tower will be built. But this degree of innovation shows the tall building industry has a lot of blue sky for significant advancement in materiality, systems and delivery. We will be watching this project closer and will hope to share unique insights as we discover them.

Onward and Upward,

Timothy Johnson AIA LEED AP