It is with a considerable mix of emotions that I write this message, which will be my last as Chairman. It has been a great honor to lead the Council during the last 3½ years and I am incredibly proud of what we have managed to achieve in this time.
We have met all of the strategic objectives set out in the Council’s 5 year plan. Over the last few years the Council has grown substantially and is functioning effectively at many new levels. We now have an active Board of Trustees, and Advisory Board. Our Country Representatives, Working Groups, Committees and Interest Groups are active and engaged. We keep in contact with our members through our very popular Newsletter, our Journals, Award Books and other publications. Indeed our Newsletter has seen its circulation more than double in the last twelve months alone. Members are perhaps not aware that not only have we changed the way we operate as well as our face to the world, but behind the scenes we have also legally incorporated these changes into our Not-for- Profit and 501.c3 status in Illinois. The Council is thus more solid and better protected than it ever has been.
Of course it would be disingenuous to claim that all this occurred as a result of my direction and control. As with many things in life, I was a victim of circumstance. I took over the Council shortly before the world-wide building boom reached full throttle and was able to build upon the enthusiasm and commitment of our membership and a resurging interest in tall buildings. The shock of 9-11 had passed by, casting a fleeting shadow on the design of tall buildings. However, it was healed by the understanding of what happened, and in parallel there was a re-appraisal and re-evaluation of tall buildings in the urban habitat, and recognition of their importance to the future success of our cities.
I was very fortunate to be able to appoint Antony Wood as Executive Director of the Council early in my tenure as Chairman. Antony is a dynamo and his appointment was swiftly followed by several more, including Philip Oldfield, Katharina Holzapfel, Steven Henry, Jan Klerks and many others who joined us on a part time basis. This team and our members have helped organize and delivered a wide array of information and data to our membership.
There have been some dramatic technical achievements in my time as chairman, and one of the most remarkable has been the Burj Dubai. By being approximately 60% taller than the previous world’s tallest, the Burj is the world’s first star-scraper. The Burj has increased tall building aspirations by making 500m towers seem more commonplace, which they are not, but it has also caused architects and engineers to rethink the technical constraints of super-tall.
It has long been recognized that Building Codes were not written for the tall buildings that we are designing today. Prescriptive rules that are blindly applied to tall buildings can make them uneconomic or unsafe, and sometimes both. I am pleased to see the growth of performance based design approaches in dealing with wind, seismic, fire safety and blast, and the Council is keen to collect best practice examples in these areas. Frequently a Performance Based approach will lead to a more appropriate and efficient design solution. The Council’s Guide on the Seismic Design of Tall Buildings highlighted some of the problems with existing seismic codes and outlined a strategy to build safer, and more economic, towers in areas of severe seismicity. Next year we expect to follow our Seismic Guide with a Guide to Wind Tunnel Testing and a Discussion Document on the Performance Based Fire Engineering of Tall Buildings.
The Council is the most prominent international organization dedicated to sharing information and opinions about tall buildings and the urban infrastructure. Our membership is unique, insofar as it is holistic and diverse: it is international and covers the whole range of professionals in the modern construction industry, from developers, builders, building officials, project managers, architects, engineers, planners and many others.
This is the great strength of our organization and gives us the opportunity to raise standards and awareness of technical issues, such as the seismic, fire and wind issues described above.
We provide a platform for our members to change and improve practice, and I am in awe of their dedication and commitment in the Committees, Panels and Working Groups where they participate.
Over the last four years the quest for sustainability and efficiency has become one of the most dominating drivers for our cities and tall buildings. We have a long way to go. The Council is committed to collecting and disseminating knowledge on this issue. Our very successful 8th World Congress Dubai in 2008, Tall and Green, was our first conference with a sustainability focus. It is clear to me that sustainability will be a major part of conferences for years to come. The focus of the upcoming 2010 Mumbai conference is the planning and regeneration of sustainable cities, which should be of interest to us all. The Council’s book on Tall Buildings and Sustainability is well underway and will be published next year.
If the Council has been successful in recent years it is due to the hard work, input and enthusiasm of many. It is with considerable pleasure and optimism for the future of the Council that I hand over the chairmanship to Professor Sang Dae Kim. I hope you will join us at our Chicago Conference and Awards Dinner in Chicago on Oct 23rd, when this handover will take place formally. Professor Kim has been involved with the Council for many years and he organized the Seoul conference in 2004. He has been one of our most successful country representatives and established the Korean chapter of the Council, the KCTBUH, that now has over 1,000 members. He was elected to the Chairman’s role by the CTBUH Board of Trustees after sharing his compelling vision of the Council’s expansion in South East Asia and particularly in China, Korea and Japan. He has a powerful vision and many plans, and I have no doubt that he will lead the Council to further success. I am sure you will join me in offering Professor Kim our congratulations and full support during his tenure.