Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Tall Tales: Lessons Learned from Industry Leaders

November 16, 2015

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ATLANTA – As the CTBUH Atlanta chapter continues to expand its reach, they recently hosted their third event on November 16. The event was generously sponsored by John Portman & Associates and was hosted at their offices in downtown Atlanta. The evening featured a networking session, followed by a series of four presentations from a variety of disciplines. A total of 60 local professionals turned out for the event – the most ever at a CTBUH Atlanta event. The event program was developed together by John Portman & Associates and Portman Holdings. The presentations offered expert perspectives on tall building issues relating to real estate design and development, wind engineering, and vertical transportation. The event was appropriately named "Tall Tales."

Charles Pinkham III, Vice President, Portman Holdings, started things off by describing the challenges and opportunities inherent to the process of developing tall buildings. Charles first made the point that tall buildings must not only satisfy the economic needs of a market, but must also create high-profile places that speak to the aspirations of a group of people, as well as represent something unique to their cultural context. He spoke to the complexity of developing tall and addressing the needs of an incredibly diverse range of constituent groups, from the schedule requirements of the lenders and financiers, to the capacities of the design teams, desires of potential tenants, and concerns of the local governing bodies and residents. Charles noted that the biggest challenges he faces are assessing demand, managing risk, estimating speed of construction, and working with financing groups. Lastly, he pointed out that despite all of the complexities of tall buildings, it is in these challenges that the appeal exists. Since building tall is so difficult, few in the world can execute at such a level, and as a result, the project teams are comprised of world-class team members. The best in the worlds of design, engineering, finance, politics development, construction, and technology are involved with tall buildings.

Charles Pinkham III, Vice President, Portman Holdings, presents on the challenges and opportunities in the process of developing tall buildings.
Gordon Beckman, Principal and Design Director, John Portman & Associates spoke about tall buildings as high-performance machines. He drew parallels between tall buildings and performance racing machines in which every individual component of the whole is engineered to perform at the highest level possible. Gordon then went on to describe numerous tall and supertall projects executed by John Portman & Associates that illustrate this theme. Projects described included the 301-meter Yinchuan Greenland Center that contextualizes itself through a high-performance "silver river" podium to link the development that integrates mechanical systems in a visually unobtrusive way; the 258-meter Zhe Jiang Fortune Finance Center whose two buildings terminate in a visually dynamic way by sculpting the roof lines so that the peak of the lower tower flows into the rising summit of the other; and the 409-meter Guangxi Financial Investment Center, whose flared form is square in plan at the base, then morphs into an octagon before morphing back to a square at the top.
Gordon Beckman, Principal and Design Director, John Portman & Associates, presents on tall buildings as high-performance machine.

Derek Kelly, Principal, Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin (RWDI) spoke on the effects of wind on tall buildings and how RWDI works with architects to create solutions that balance the impact of lateral loads imposed by wind pressures with the aspirations of the design intent for the building. Derek introduced the phenomenon of “vortex shedding” and the effects that this can have on tall buildings. He first described the relationship of vibrations caused by the dynamic positive and negative fluid pressures around a structure and the natural frequency of the structure itself, and the potential negative effects that can result when these frequencies align. He then addressed two ways in which these potential negative effects can be mitigated; first, with the use of tuned-mass-dampers to reduce the amplitude of vibrations caused by wind, exemplified by the 508-meter Taipei 101 project as a case study, and second, by "confusing" the wind with gently tapered or stepped tower forms which, when compared to simple extrusions, don't allow harmonic movement to build, an argument Derek made using the Burj Khalifa as a case study.

Derek Kelly, Principal, RWDI, presents on the effects of wind on tall buildings.

Lastly, Scott Shepler, Principal, Fortune Shepler Saling Inc., discussed two fundamental ways vertical circulation technology continues to impact tall buildings. First, he elaborated on elevator service trends that address programmatic needs and allow tall buildings to hold increasingly complex programs; and second, he explained how technical advancements are allowing elevator cabs to move faster and go higher than they ever have before. Scott explained that destination-dispatch elevator call technology can move people vertically through a building far more efficiently than conventional elevator call systems. Additionally, he explained how double-deck, triple-deck and twin elevator systems can move more people in a single elevator shaft, and illustrated the impact this can have on reducing the size of a building core. Lastly, Scott explained to the audience how carbon fiber hoisting rope technology, which is far stronger and lighter than traditional steel cables, does not weigh down elevator cabs. This allows hoistway and elevator cab structures to get lighter and less expensive, and allows the cabs themselves to carry less self-weight, allowing them to move much faster.

Scott Shepler, Principal, Fortune Shepler Sailing Inc, presents on the impact of vertical circulation technology on tall buildings. 
The evening’s presentations illustrated the great range of disciplines involved in the construction of tall buildings from global financial markets down to technicalities of elevator manufacturing.
Yesim Ozbarlas Artikostones
Mary Chib Bentley
James Camacho Camacho Food Service Design
Michael Nagy City of Atlanta Office of Buildings
Ryan Curry Coca Cola
Telly Fathaly Cushman Wakefield
Housh Rahimzadeh DIVERSAKORE
Stephen Watlington DPR Hardin Construction
Mark Sambol DPR Hardin Construction
Brian Spickard DPR Hardin Construction
Jennifer Ilkin Eberly & Assoc
Kevin Edwards Eberly & Assoc
Jack Wexler Faithful & Gould
Kell Martin First Fidelity Mortgaged
Scott Shelper Fortune-Shepler Consulting
Anastasia Kostrominova Gensler
David LeFevre Gensler
James Puckhaber Gensler
Cynthia Smith Gensler
Brian Dillman Gensler
Sara Singleton Gensler
Aaron Albrecht Gensler
William Collier Gensler
Daniel Walsh Gensler
Victoria Walsh Gensler
John Moores Gensler
Gifton Passley Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission
Ashley Reck Georgia Tech CoA
Tianyu Feng Georgia Tech CoA
Rohit Chib GreenbergFarrow
Jay Scott Greenrock Partners
Doug Hunter Holder Construction
Gordon Beckman John Portman & Associates
John Nipaver John Portman & Associates
Norris Hunt John Portman & Associates
Grace Tan John Portman & Associates
Matthew Skarr John Portman & Associates
Luca Maffey John Portman & Associates
Matt Marvel Jordan & Skala
Donna Wise Kimberley-Clark
Jason Manners Kimley Horn
Kelly Esch Kimley Horn
Steven Bruning Newcomb & Boyd
Greg Portman PFVS
Jason Williams Piedmont Realty Trust
Blake Rawlins Piedmont Realty Trust
Hunter Richardson Portman Holdings
John C Portman IV Portman Holdings
Paul Marston Richmond Sterling
Derek Kelly RWDI
Steve Hamvas Stanley D. Lindsey & Associates
Arvind Goverdhan Stanley D. Lindsey & Associates
Mark Stevens Thornton Tomasetti
Dale Smart Tremco
Jim Case Uzun & Case
Rob Weilacher Uzun & Case
John Hutton Uzun & Case
Yasser Saleem Uzun & Case
Martin Cuadra Uzun & Case
Tim Santi Walter P Moore
Kyle Manweiler Walter P Moore
Adam Bichir Walter P Moore
Adam Karabenli Walter P Moore
Don Bailey Winter Construction
James Gantt Fausett