Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

2010 Awards Symposium Overview

Being a year in which an exceptionally high number of tall buildings have been completed, this year, for the first time, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat organized an afternoon's Awards Symposium preceding the annual Awards Dinner on October 21st, 2010. During the symposium, regional award winning projects were introduced by representatives from both the building owners and the architects while lifetime award winners reflected upon their careers. An impressive number of over 400 attendees from all over the world, representing many professions related to the tall building industry, were presented with the Burj Khalifa (Dubai, Middle East & Africa region), Pinnacle @ Duxton (Singapore, Asia & Australia region), Broadcasting Place (Leeds, Europe region) and the Bank of America Tower at one Bryant Park (New York City, Americas region). Also presenting were lifetime award winners William Pedersen of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, and Mrs. Beatriz Seinuk-Ackerman, who accepted the Fazlur Khan Lifetime Achievement Medal on behalf of her father, the late Professor Ysrael Seinuk.

CTBUH Chairman Prof. Sang Dae Kim welcoming all delegates.

Audience of over 400 attendees

From New York to Shanghai: A Lifetime of Tall
As the recipient of the Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award, architect William Pedersen of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates was the first speaker to take the stage to reflect on his life’s work as an architect. With a prolific career spanning half a century, Mr. Pedersen saw his main challenge on the day as having to present 50 years of work in 30 minutes! It all started in October of 1960 when, as a student, Mr. Pedersen designed a scheme for an elevated housing project, which resembled a series of interconnected trees. It was the start of an architectural career which has lasted five decades and counting. Mr. Pedersen’s designs have become instrumental in defining the architecture which typifies these decades, while maintaining a design philosophy based on a context dialogue. Through the selection of projects, Mr. Pedersen showed how the way in which buildings have been built up, its signature design elements, but also through the usage of materials and textures, the design of the towers strive to be a product of its place. During the symposium, many speakers took the opportunity to publicly congratulate Mr. Pedersen on receiving the award, while praising his influence on themselves and the architectural community as a whole.

William Pedersen, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

High Performance Design, Health & Productivity

Lisa Shpritz, Senior Vice President at Bank of America, and Richard Cook, Partner at Cook + Fox Architects, described the Bank of America Tower at one Bryant Park as a prima example of a sustainable skyscraper, being the first tall building in the US which has received LEED Platinum certification. The presentation illustrated that sustainability is about a lot more than adding smart technology to a building and calling it sustainable. Cook spoke of the holistic research that was done before the design of the tower which produced interesting insights, such as the fact that only 27% of energy typically created off-site from source is actually being delivered to the building because of wastage. Besides technical research, another interesting viewpoint is that no matter how sustainably savvy a building wants to be, the largest benefits for sustainable building design are from measures taken to increase worker productivity, i.e., the design of a pleasant and more natural working environment.

Lisa Shpritz, Senior Vice President at Bank of America.
Richard Cook, Partner at Cook + Fox Architects
Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park

Reimagining the High-rise Housing Typology
While listening to Lawrence Pak, Deputy Director at the Singapore Housing and Development Board, and Peng Beng Khoo, Lead Designer at ARC Studio Architecture + Urbanism, you once again realize that the context in which housing is developed in the West can be completely different to that in the East. Since it is a compact island nation, issues of space are much more dominant in the tall building development of Singapore than they are in most places around the world, especially when it has the ambition to provide and organize the most for their citizens. After the conception of the state, the focus of housing development underwent a qualitative growth from coping with initial demand in the late 1960s and 70s to better looking homes in the 80s, to integrated lifestyles and ecosystems in the 90s, to the vertical communities of the 2000s. The Pinnacle @ Duxton complex is an excellent example of the latest developments. With the many ambitions and a chronic shortage of space, proper planning and dense design is regarded as the way to move forward. This results in a group of towers with compact but livable units, which are connected at multiple levels to create the infrastructure needed for different flows - and activities - between the towers at height. These would otherwise be located at ground level, taking up much of the valued green and open space.

Lawrence Pak, Deputy Director at the Singapore Housing and Development Board.
Peng Beng Khoo, Lead Designer at ARC Studio Architecture + Urbanism

Diversification of Tall Buildings for a New Social Context
One of the hardest challenges of a tall building is to fit into its context. Broadcasting Place in Leeds might not be the tallest award winning project, but is has done an outstanding job in creating a sense of place. George Downing, Chairman at Downing, and Alex Whitbread, Partner & Lead Architect at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, explained how Broadcasting Place is a true product of its context. The site is one where the inner ring road connects with the A660 motorway, but also a place where old meets new and where the city center meets residential areas. This mixture of different elements is reflected by the heights and roof pitches of the building blocks that make up Broadcasting Place. The buildings drop from eight stories down to six before rising to the scheme’s highest point of 23 stories at the Broadcasting Tower.  The use of weathering steel as a solid and sculptural façade material unifies the buildings. The sharp triangular corners and angular cantilevered projections create interesting vistas and juxtapositions around the building, and indicate routes which connect the surroundings of the plot. Also, a software program was developed to undertake analysis of each section of the building fa
çade, resulting in a varied appearance specific to this scheme, along with the optimization of daylight and reduction  of solar penetration.

George Downing, Chairman at Downing
Alex Whitbread, Partner & Lead Architect at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios Broadcasting Tower

A New Typology for Tall Buildings
Burj Khalifa does not need much introduction. This is probably the reason why George Efstathiou and William Baker, the Managing Partner and Structural Engineering Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP respectively, focused on summing up ten key factors that led to the phenomenon that is the Burj Khalifa. These are:  (10) A team consisting of the world’s leading specialty consultants. (9) A strong focus on vertical transportation systems and occupant safety.  (8) Collaborative design of aesthetics and engineering.  (7) Thorough wind engineering. (6) Perfected construction technologies. (5) Efficient and effective structural engineering.  (4) SOM multi-disciplined team and their coordination efforts. (3) The core project team of Emaar, SOM, Turner and Samsung/BESIX/Arabtec. (2) Market & financial diligence, and finally  (1) Emaar Properties as the driving force. This overview shows that much of the success of doing something that has never been done before comes down to the specialized expertise of the many professionals involved, and the coordination and cooperation between these.

George Efstathiou (right) and William Baker (left), the Managing Partner and Structural Engineering Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP respectively

Burj Khalifa

The Skyscraper and the Structural Process: 40 years of engineering the Supertall
In a presentation that was full of affection and admiration, Mrs. Beatriz Seinuk-Ackerman told the life story of her father, Professor Ysrael Seinuk. Shortly after learning he had been recognized as the recipient of the Fazlur Khan Lifetime Achievement Medal, Prof. Seinuk passed away at the age of 78 on September 14. A Cuban native whose father had emigrated from Lithuania, Prof. Seinuk graduated in 1954 from the University of Havana with a degree in civil engineering. Within six years he had designed a 700-room hotel in Havana, involving some colorful commissioners who granted the young engineer this great opportunity. But when Fidel Castro came to power, he fled to the United States where he ended up in New York City with his wife and kids and only $20 in his pocket. From there on, he embarked on a career in engineering which included buildings such as the Trump World Tower and Condé Nast Building in New York City, up until the recently completed O-14 office tower in Dubai. The impressive overview of the projects in which Prof. Seinuk was involved show once more that many may not know him by name, but they are very familiar with the buildings he had designed. Not only through his work, but also by teaching structural engineering to architecture students at Cooper Union for 40 years, Mr. Seinuk has influenced many in the engineering and architectural industry. One of the most important lessons which Mrs. Seinuk-Ackerman has learned from her father, with whom she has worked for ten years, was “to go with the challenges and to have fun while at it”.

Mrs. Beatriz Seinuk-Ackerman Captivated audience

Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Not only did the awards symposium represent developments in the four main regions of the world, they also showed an interesting diversity in tall buildings themes, such as: urban integration, vertical communities, sustainability and, of course, sheer height. The scope of the topics covered during the symposium show that the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat has evolved from an organization which was initially focused on the engineering of skyscrapers, to one which recognizes that tall building are a product of many qualities and expertise that can make it an award-winning entity.

Q&A session
Closing remarks by CTBUH Vice Chair David Scott Announcing the next conference