Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Does London Need Tall Buildings? Report

October 7, 2015

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LONDON Ahead of the CTBUH annual conference on 26–30 October in New York, themed Global Interchanges: Resurgence of the Skyscraper City, the CTBUH UK Chapter hosted an evening debate posing the question “Does London need tall buildings?” With 263 towers planned across the city—including proposed projects such as the 278-meter tower 22 Bishopsgate, also known as “The Pinnacle,” and projects already underway such as the 192-meter 52-54 Lime Street, also known as “The Scalpel” or the “W.R. Berkley”—CTBUH UK members felt it was as an ideal time to explore the financial, cultural, and practical contributions of tall buildings to the urban realm, focusing specifically on London.

Panel answers questions, (left to right) Giles Barrie, FTI Consulting; Peter Wynne Rees, University College London; Philip Oldfield, University of Nottingham; Karen Cook, PLP Architecture; and Steve Watts, Alinea.

The panel discussion was kindly sponsored by Newforma, and had a terrific turn-out of 160 attendees, representing a myriad of disciplines, including developers, architects, engineers, and financial consultants. These professionals arrived at Grimshaw's Clerkenwell studio on a Wednesday evening to join the in-depth discussion, which ranged from citywide planning strategies and the concern over "piles of safety deposit boxes" to the more tangible effects of tall buildings on the public.
The evening began with an informal networking session with wine and canapés, after which the attendees relocated into the main event space, where they were welcomed by Temoor Ahmad, Deputy Chair of CTBUH UK. Temoor handed over the ceremonies to moderator Giles Barrie, Managing Director at FTI Consulting, whom moderated the discussion. Barrie gave a brief speech, and then introduced the speakers individually, each of whom gave presentations. The esteemed panel of experts featured: Karen Cook, Founding Partner of PLP Architecture; Philip Oldfield, Assistant Professor at University of Nottingham; Peter Rees, UCL Professor, former City of London Chief Planning Officer; and Steve Watts, Partner at Alinea Consulting.
The conference took place in Grimshaw's Clerkenwell studio.  

Following the individual presentations, Giles chaired a short discussion between the panellists and received questions from the audience. Key questions and topics of discussion included:

  • Building for the future: are the tall buildings of today designed for the short- or long-term?
  • Safety issues surrounding tall buildings, including the use of lifts in emergency situations
  • Whether the premium of a tall building is a result of its height or shape
  • Energy efficiency and building tall
  • Does the way in which people move around a city impact the design of tall buildings, e.g., the high volume of cyclists in Copenhagen? 
  • Should the focus be on context and density rather than height?
  • Shifting perceptions of sky gardens and “streets in the sky,” with Singapore exemplifying success
  • Is building tall the answer to the UK’s housing crisis?
  • The relationship between affordable housing and the ability of the professionals to live in London
Philip Oldfield, Assistant Professor at University of Nottingham, addressed a packed audience.
Following the debate attendees and panellists enjoyed refreshments along with lively topical discussions that continued until the event closed at 9:30pm. Many thanks to all those who attended, to our hosts Grimshaw, and our generous sponsor Newforma.
Name Company
John Paul Reeves AIFireE
Rachel Coleman Alinea Consulting
Hamish Summers Alinea Consulting
Steve Watts Alinea Consulting
Ivee Wang Alison Brooks Architects
Natalia Maslennikova Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
Haydn Thomas Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
Amanda Reynolds AR Urbanism
Naike Zambotti AR Urbanism
Rob Cox Arcadis
Alex Flash Arup
Vinicius Gaio de Siqueira Arup
Joao Guimaraes Arup
Dimitra Koroni Arup
Steve McKechnie Arup
Pablo Miro Arup
Anthony Murphy Arup
Paula Valdecasas Arup
Simon Hicks Aspire Development Management
Adelle Peattie Aspire Development Management
Thomas Lane BD
Yui Fan Law Bogle Architects
Oliver Harman Bouygues UK
Gratien Regnault Bouygues UK
Russell Doughty Buro Four
Ian Maddocks Buro Happold
Giacomo Magnani Buro Happold
Wolf Mangelsdorf BuroHappold
Nick Nelson BuroHappold
Randall Heinrich Canary Wharf Group
Mark Preston CBRE
Julie Futcher Climate 22
David Ainsworth Core
Stephen Black Core
Jon Spencer-Hall Core Five
Robert White CTBUH
Jeffrey Blaylock Curtins
David Dexter David Dexter
Will Bayston Deloitte Real Estate
Robert Black Deloitte Real Estate
Marianne Brook Deloitte Real Estate
Adam Pappini Deloitte Real Estate
Tim Trillo Deloitte Real Estate
Laura Di Fiore Dexter Moran
Justin Morin-Carpentier Dexter Moran
Chris Hanson Faithful & Gould
John Bowman Fieldfisher
Cecily Davis Fieldfisher
Giles Barrie FTI Consulting
Sian Disson FTI Consulting
Katharina Marquart FTI Consulting
Tony Nokling FTI Consulting
Mark Davy Futurecity
Paul Smith GL Hearn
Andrew Reid Green Street Advisors
Temoor Ahmad Grimshaw
Jolyon Brewis Grimshaw
Andrew Byrne Grimshaw
Tania Dee Grimshaw
Rebekah Foote Grimshaw
Ben Heath Grimshaw
Declan McCafferty Grimshaw
Neill McClements Grimshaw
Leandro Rotondi Grimshaw
Neven Sidor Grimshaw
Chris Spence Grimshaw
Alan Cronin Hilson Moran
Caroline Stephens Hilson Moran
Vince Ugarow Hilson Moran
Alan Attride househamhenderson
Rishi Bodhani househamhenderson
Vittoria Maran househamhenderson
Ariadna Roca househamhenderson
Gabriella Romito househamhenderson
Laura Vatteroni househamhenderson
Alberto Villanueva IDEA
Mario Barrientos Idom
Sarah Ibrahim Idom
Yian Jang Idom
Jonathan Kim Idom
Javier Quintana Idom
Dean Slidel Idom
Michele Sauchelli Laing O’Rourke
David Scott Laing O'Rourke
Patrick Andison LSE
Alyssa Campbell LSE
Georgios Kapraras LSE
Kung Yin (Ian) Lo LSE
Pauline Niesseron LSE
Kiana Otsuka LSE
Christina T. Apuzzo LSE
Xuean Zhong LSE
James Brisco LUC, UCL Bartlett
Joanna Tatlow Mace Group
Balveer Mankia Make
James Taylor Make
Michel Mossessian Mossessian Architecture
Norrie Courts Network Rail
Paul Daynes Newforma
Charles deVoil Newforma
Rob Stephen Newforma
Renos Charitou PLP Architecture
Karen Cook PLP Architecture
Alex Robinson PLP Architecture
Davide Pedicone Ramboll UK
Jessie Turnbull Rick Mather Architects
David Cook RLB
Simon Cloherty Robert Bird Group
Richard Valenti Robert Bird Group
Mike Moody Skanska
Alan Leibowitz Skyline Campaign
Chiara Montgomerie Skyline Campaign
Barbara Weiss Skyline Campaign
Kevin Hayes SOM
Nicole Gordon Sprout London
Zoi Stathaki Stephan Reinke Architects
Mark Fishlock Tall Building Fire Safety Network
Russ Timpson Tall Building Fire Safety Network
Adam Miller Thornton Tomasetti
Lee Earl Thornton Tomasetti
Tanya de Hoog Thornton Tomasetti
Joseph Burns Thornton Tomasetti
Thomas Wolseley UCL
Juan Felipe Herrera UCL Bartlett
Friyana Iranpur UCL Bartlett
Martin Jones UCL Bartlett
Marianne Kouridou UCL Bartlett
Barbara Pani UCL Bartlett
Peter Rees UCL Bartlett
Ben Young UCL Bartlett
Juhyun Lee UN-Habitat
Jans Bosmans University of Leuven
Michael Van Steijvoort University of Leuven
Stuart Beattie Wilkinson Eyre Architects
Flavian Berar Wilkinson Eyre Architects
Dominic Bettinson Wilkinson Eyre Architects
Mark Coles Wilkinson Eyre Architects
Ed Daines Wilkinson Eyre Architects
Jason Lee Wilkinson Eyre Architects
Tommy Li Wilkinson Eyre Architects
Dayo Oladunjoye Wilkinson Eyre Architects
Achille Tortini Wilkinson Eyre Architects
David Dupont Wirth Research
Rob Rowsell Wirth Research
Nicola Evans WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff
Saskia Hawkins WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff
Gavin Wickens WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff
Paola Cattarin Zaha Hadid Architects
Milind Khade Zaha Hadid Architects
Paolo Matteuzzi Zaha Hadid Architects
Viviana Muscettola Zaha Hadid Architects
Michele Salvi Zaha Hadid Architects
Ioannis Agathocleous
Andrea Chiarelli
Javier Inigo
Antiopi Koronaki
Peter Murray
Apichaya O-In
Philip Oldfield
Andrew Sharpe
Luke Treherne