Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Skyscraper Summit Warms Sydney Up for CTBUH 2017
August 18, 2017

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SYDNEY – A joint venture between the Urban Taskforce and CTBUH delivered a successful “warm-up” event in advance of the CTBUH 2017 Conference in Australia. Twelve speakers from across the tall building spectrum presented to a group of approximately 300 senior industry representatives, including developers, planners, engineers and architects.

The CTBUH was well-represented during the event. CTBUH Conference collateral and speaker presentations provided an overview of, and insight into this year’s upcoming international conference.  An overview of infrastructure projects making new connections in the Sydney metropolitan region was delivered by Co-Chair of the CTBUH 2017 Conference Committee Ken McBryde, Founding Partner, Sydney Architecture Studio. Co-Chair of the CTBUH 2017 Conference Committee Jeff Morgan, Associate Principal, Grimshaw Architects, made a rousing call to attend the upcoming conference.

CTBUH Adivsory Group Member Karl Fender, Founding Director, Fender Katsalidis Architects, provides an interesting overview.

Carol Willis of The Skyscraper Museum (New York) brought focus to issues specifically relating to “supertall and superslim’’ towers, suggesting that this trend was part of a New York vernacular.  This typology is the result of extraordinary sale prices ($371-$1,022/ square meter) due to the value of unimpeded views over Central Park.  She demonstrated that “form follows finance” when it comes to making design decisions in this context. Willis also observed that this slender typology, with its thin, fast-moving shadows, could perhaps have less impact on public open areas than shorter, more squat building forms. The socio-economic impacts are perhaps a little less easy to measure, given this new typology is a visually striking display by the super-wealthy.

CTBUH Advisory Group Member Karl Fender, Founding Director, Fender Katsalidis Architects, provided an interesting retrospective of some of his practice’s earlier developments in tall buildings, leading up to the central focus of the presentation, the new Merdeka PNB118 Tower in Kuala Lumpur.  Rising more than 600 meters, the crystalline tower will mark one of Kuala Lumpur’s most historically significant sites.  Surrounded by smaller residential towers and a retail podium at its base, the tower will include commercial offices and a hotel within its faceted expression.
A group of 300 senior industry representatives, including developers, planners, engineers, and architects were present at the "warm-up" event.

Barry Lee, direct off a long flight from Beijing, showed how DBI Design is searching for a new architectural character, inspired by the enduring beauty of “the nature of nature” and the spiraling mathematical patterns generated by fractals.  With a strong use of parametric software and partnerships with rapid prototyping facilities to help realize the practice’s complex geometries, Lee focused on Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi, demonstrating the breadth and complexity of DBI’s largest project.

Ian Lomas, partner, Make, reminded us how very different regulations are from city to city and internationally. In London, for example, there are no floor-area ratio (FAR) regulations and 300 tower projects in the pipeline. The city authorities approve a project on the basis of its “merit."  The architect and developers’ success is based on their skills in “persuasion” and addressing key issues of protecting view corridors to St Paul's and archeological issues found with the site in question.

David Brenac, General Manager, Capital Projects NSW, the Star Entertainment Group and Richard Francis-Jones, Design Director, FJMT, presented the Ritz-Carlton Tower at the Star Sydney. The two raised the important question of how to protect existing, and how to make new public spaces from new infrastructure. Placed at the northernmost point of the development, the tower creates an important landmark for the destination, providing an elegant and appropriate balance to the composition of towers to the east of Darling Harbour.

Todd Nisbet, Executive Vice President, Strategy & Development, Crown Resorts and Simon Swaney, Director, Bates Smart, Sydney, presented Crown Casino Barangaroo, emphasizing the importance of a publicly accessible, 24/7 precinct to the goal of bringing vibrancy to the city. Acknowledging the complexities of realizing the project, both Nisbet and Swaney reiterated the focus given to delivering a high-quality public amenity through its numerous dining and retail offerings.

Carol Willis of The Skyscraper Museum (New York) discusses issues relating to "supertall and superslim" towers.
Muir Livingston, Partner, Foster + Partners, reinforced Carol Willis' point regarding how the unique flora and fauna of a place, such as the Galapagos Islands, are the result of specific local conditions.  In Sydney’s case, Livingston noted that the arrival of a new metro line will dramatically change the nature of tall buildings and urban habitat in the emerging Circular Quay precinct.  While the majority of the tower commands the highly desirable harbor and Opera House views, the base of the tower responds at a much finer scale to the city’s laneway network agenda, prioritizing an activated, pedestrian precinct at ground level.

Meriton’s Head of Architecture Alexia Fisher and SJB Architects’ Jonathan Tondi spoke of their new, ambitious tower in Gold Coast, Queensland.  The tripartite composition ensures all of the 270 serviced apartments and 300 apartments are afforded direct ocean views. Tondi spoke of the necessary speed and efficiency in building the 90-story tower’s structural frame.

Morgan, Johnson, and McBryde reinforced how the warm-up event clearly demonstrated the relevance of the CTBUH 2017 Conference theme: “Connecting the City”. The Summit audience witnessed a series of excellent presentations on tall buildings, most of which are being co-developed alongside the infrastructure, making new connections in those particular cities.

The organizers would like to acknowledge Chris Johnson, CEO, Urban Taskforce and Philip Vivian, CTBUH 2017 Conference Co-Chair / Sydney City Representative, for initiating and driving this very successful and well-attended event.
Ian Lomas, Partner, Make, gives a talk on the differences in regulations from city to city.