Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Height & Data Committee Meets at 2018 CTBUH Middle East Conference

CTBUH Height & Data Committee Chair, Scott Duncan, Partner, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, leads the newly reinvigorated Committee in the discussion.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

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DUBAI – The CTBUH Height and Data Committee met as a breakout group from the 2018 CTBUH Leaders’ Meeting, conducted at the CTBUH 2018 Middle East Conference in Dubai. At issue were several key definitions of structural types, as well as some urban-scale considerations.

Height and Data Committee Chair Scott Duncan, Partner, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, convened the meeting by welcoming the new Committee members and giving a brief introduction. He then proceeded to give a brief overview of the existing criteria and past committee highlights and initiatives, including several recent examples of building owners approaching CTBUH seeking ratification of a “tallest title,” which has led to several funded research projects and report outputs as a consequence of verifying the claim.

The first issue up for discussion by the Committee was the addition of timber as a structural material in the CTBUH Height Criteria and Database / Skyscraper Center. With timber being increasingly used in taller buildings, the Council has received many questions seeking clarity on how an “all-timber” vs. “composite” timber building is defined. After some discussion, the Committee agreed on the following definition for a tall building with an “all-timber” structure:

Both the main vertical/lateral structural elements and the floor spanning systems are constructed from timber. An all-timber structure may include the use of localized non-timber connections between timber elements. Note that a building of timber construction with a floor system of concrete planks, or concrete slab on top of timber beams, is still considered a “timber” structure, as the concrete elements are not acting as the primary structure.

The Committee also agreed to include timber in the “Composite” definition, and also made minor refinements to the Composite definition. The final agreed definition read:

A “composite” structure consists of a combination of two or more materials, used together in the main structural elements. Examples include buildings that utilize: steel columns with a floor system of reinforced concrete beams; a steel frame system with a concrete core; concrete-encased steel columns; concrete-filled steel tubes; a timber frame with a concrete core, etc. Where known, the CTBUH database breaks out the materials used in a composite building’s core, columns, and floor spanning separately.

The Committee next reviewed the definition of “building complex” and how it is currently being used. The term was originally created to allow inherently associated, but separate buildings to be listed together in CTBUH data and on its Web site (e.g., Petronas Towers, Linked Hybrid). However, the relatively vague definition has led to an expanded use to connect buildings that are part of larger master plans and districts (e.g., Barangaroo South, World Trade Center, Hudson Yards). A substantial conversation ensued, but no final decision was reached on whether or how to broaden the definition of “complex” to better match the intention of Skyscraper Center users.

The Committee next debated whether some of the “other” structures that are occasionally included on the database, but in a non-comprehensive manner, such as pieces of infrastructure (bridges and towers); Ferris wheels; “other” structures (such as the St. Louis Gateway Arch) should be kept on the Skyscraper Center. If so, what kind of effort should be invested into researching and building up the database in these areas? No definitive conclusions were reached.

Apart from the sharpened definitions of structural materials, the other main outcome of the meeting was an assignment of individuals to research specific topics of interest, with an aim to how they could be productively measured and represented on the Skyscraper Center:

•    Energy Performance – Operating (what is the proper metric?): Scott Coombes & Brad Wilkins
•    Embodied Energy: Joe Burns & Craig Blanchet
•    Structural Efficiency: Yue Zhu, Peter Weismantle & Amitabh Kumar
•    Structural Systems: Amitabh Kumar
•    Smart Buildings: Giuseppe Dibari
•    Data on Urban Habitat (e.g. vegetated area, mixed program): Not specifically assigned

Last Name 
First Name    
Company Location CTBUH Role
Duncan Scott Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Chicago, USA Height & Data Committee Chair
Wood Antony CTBUH Chicago, USA Chief Executive Officer
Henry Steven CTBUH Chicago, USA Chief Productions Officer
Blanchet Craig LeMessurier Boston, USA Height & Data Committee
Coombes Scott AESG Dubai, UAE Height & Data Committee
Burns Joseph Thornton Tomasetti Chicago, USA Height & Data Committee
Dibari Giuseppe Deerns Milan, Italy Height & Data Committee
Fender Karl Fender Katsalidis Architects Melbourne, Australia Height & Data Committee
Gerometta Marshall CTBUH Chicago, USA Height & Data Committee
Hammoud Mounib Jeddah Economic Company Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Trustee
Harr Claire Turner Construction Company New York, USA Height & Data Committee
Kumar Amitabh Puranik Builders Mumbai, India Height & Data Committee
Li Lei Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates New York, USA Height & Data Committee
Maibusch Bill The Walsh Group Seattle, USA Height & Data Committee
Soberg Travis Goettsch Partners Chicago, USA Height & Data Committee
Sparrow Martin Arney Fender Katsalidis Toronto, Canada Height & Data Committee
Walter Toni DP9 Ltd London, UK Height & Data Committee
Weismantle Peter Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture Chicago, USA Height & Data Committee
Wilkins Brad Gensler Singapore, Singapore Height & Data Committee
Zhu Yue Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Chicago, USA Expert Peer Review Committee