CTBUH Looks Back Through 2021 


1 December 2021


The Council took 2021 in stride amidst an ongoing pandemic, pivoting to virtual events when necessary but also holding in-person events when conditions allowed. In addition, many achievements were celebrated. Here are some high-level highlights over the months. 



CTBUH China held a New Year Talk, an in-person event held at One Museum Place in Shanghai, focusing on the theme of “future cities.” The event also celebrated the release of the CTBUH book, Frontiers of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat: World Development and Best Case Studies.


A panel discussion on planning and design at the CTBUH New Year Talk in Shanghai. From left: Yi Zhang, Technical Director, Gensler; Bin Niu, Vice President, ECADI;
Zhendong Wang, Professor, Tongji University; Ping Qian, Chief Architect, CCDI; Mu Li, Design Department Managing Director, Ping An.  


The Council completed the mass timber engagement program. Timber Rising produced a publication, podcast, and video interviews—made possible through a grant from the USDA Forest Service. 


The Robotics in Tall Building Construction research report, sponsored by Schindler, was published, delving into the future of this promising field and identifying its impact on the construction industry. 


CTBUH Turkey held a virtual panel discussion, "What Shapes Our Future Cities?," addressing topics such as technological trends, urban mobility, gender equality, social inclusivity, and healthy streetscapes.


In addition, the CTBUH 2020 Tall Building Year in Review was released. Overall project completions unsurprisingly fell as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe in early 2020, yielding 106 completions of buildings 200 meters and taller, a 20 percent decline from 133 in 2019.


The 2020 Year in Review, sponsored by Schindler, found that tall building completions fell for the second year in a row. 




In an online panel discussion, CTBUH CEO Antony Wood addressed whether suburban high-rise development in the USA is good enough, in the context of Oak Park, Illinois, a village that prides itself on the architectural legacy created by Frank Lloyd Wright and others.


The CTBUH Philadelphia Chapter hosted a virtual seminar entitled "Building Tall & Going Deep in the San Francisco Bay Area" examining the significance of soil, bedrock, and groundwater conditions and the effect of basement depth in determining the appropriate type of foundation support.


The CTBUH Chicago Future Leaders Committee held an informative virtual presentation on the Al Wasl Plaza, with Tim Winstanley, Senior Architect, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, and JJ Tobolski, Associate, Thornton Tomasetti presenting. 


The Bruneseau Seine Tower in Paris and the current state of research in wood construction in Miami was the focus of a webinar presented by the University of Miami and the CTBUH Florida chapter.  


In addition, the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award winners were announced. The Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Moshe Safdie, Founder, Safdie Architects. The Fazlur R. Khan Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Wuren Wang, General Technical Adviser, CITIC HEYE.


Moshe Safdie, Founder, Safdie Architects (left) and Wuren Wang, General Technical Adviser, CITIC HEYE (right) were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards.



CTBUH CEO Antony Wood presented a keynote lecture, “Tall Timber and the Future City,” to the International Mass Timber Conference, exploring the trends, challenges, and opportunities surrounding the adoption of mass timber in the global tall building industry, focusing on the positive benefits that could be yielded at all scales.


Also in April, the winner of the 2020 Student Research Competition, sponsored by Sun Hung Kai Properties, was announced: “Designing Biodiverse High-Rise Façade Microbiomes for Healthy Urban Environments.” Ziyue Gao led a team consisting of Yiling Ji, Elizaveta Blokhina, Chao Tang, and Yining Jiang.


The 2020 Student Research Competition winner focused on biodiverse high-rise façade microbiomes.


In addition, BDP Quadrangle presented an online discussion on the future of workplaces and how open concept workspaces are adapting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the evolving role of the physical office, and the future of the office high-rise. Principal Caroline Robbie and Associate Andrea Hall from BDP Quadrangle were hosted by Karla Cruz Ruelas, Senior Project Lead at the firm.



Vancouver House was named Best Tall Building Worldwide at the 2021 Tall + Urban Innovation Conference. Category winners were named across 28 award categories. All winners are featured in Tall Buildings + Urban Habitat: Volume 4. 


Unavoidable constraints led Vancouver House to develop and activate the fractured triangles of buildable space on its site to
reimagine the typical “Vancouverism” townhouse podium into a multi-programmable village approach. Image credit: Ema Peters


In China, CTBUH held a day-long symposium with 10 speakers at Luxelakes Eco-city in Chengdu to discuss “polycentric cities.” A tour of Raffles City Chengdu was included.


In addition, CTBUH held a signboard ceremony for the 530-meter-tall Tianjin CTF Finance Centre, certifying it as the "Tallest Building in the North Region of China."


A festive celebration marked the unveiling of the Tianjin CTF Finance Centre signboard. 



In another successful in-person event, the CTBUH China office held the 2021 CTBUH International Symposium on Mixed-Use Community in Hangzhou. The focus of discussion was on the future mixed factors in urban communities and how they may be further stimulated. 


The CTBUH Canada chapter gave an online presentation on the seismic performance of modular steel buildings. This presentation covered research on the seismic performance of braced modular steel buildings, as well as structural aspects of high-rise modular buildings around the world. 


With funding support from constructsteel, the Council begins a research project to analyze steel/concrete composite applications in the construction market. The intended output will be a Roadmap on Steel-Concrete Composite Construction Elements. 


Through an academic and industry survey of the state of the art of steel/concrete composite structural systems, the Roadmap on Steel-Concrete

Composite Construction Elements research project will produce an analysis of steel/concrete composite applications in the construction market.  



The Council announced a transformational new organizational structure, a recommitment to thought leadership and research for future cities, new opportunities for member engagement, and a major expansion in leadership.


A pivotal new model for CTBUH is more member-driven and offers greater opportunities for a broader range of members to make a meaningful difference in the Council’s activities.


With funding support from constructsteel, the Council embarked on a two-year research project that will explore the future potential of steel-timber hybrid structures in tall buildings.


Among many milestones achieved in 2021, the "Future Timber City: An Awareness and Educational Program for Future, Sustainable, Dense Cities" research project created a first draft of a Timber City case study. 


The first Timber City case study was based on the questionnaire responses, images, and other data received from stakeholders of Brock Commons Tallwood House, Vancouver, Canada.


The CTBUH Future Leaders Committees from Chicago and New York discuss the construction of Singapore’s Changi Airport, and its place in gridshell design evolution, touching on the embodied carbon of components.



In an online presentation entitled, "Exploring Innovative Trends Transforming the Built Environment," the CTBUH Philadelphia Chapter parsed the path to digitalization in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, including turning cranes into smart devices.


Chris Beck, Senior Vice President, Turner Construction, gives final remarks during the Exploring Innovative Trends Transforming the Built Environment presentation.


A partnership between Charles Russell Speechlys and CTBUH yielded a market intelligence report, Skyscraper vs Groundscraper, discussing development, funding, and the future of design and construction.



The Council published a 30-year data study to coincide with the 20th anniversary of 9/11. It explores tall building development, visualizing how many of the world’s tallest buildings were built since 2001 and the shifts in geographic growth of tall buildings, among other data. 


Data Fact: Eight of the 10 current tallest buildings in the US have been built since 2001. The World Trade Center towers would currently be in seventh and eighth place if standing today. Source: CTBUH


The steel-timber research project, The Future Potential of Steel-Timber Hybrid Structures, kicked off with its first committee meeting. The aim of the project is to identify use cases and perform life-cycle analyses (LCAs) on these cases, delivering numerous detailed examples of carbon emissions, recyclability, constructability and cost implications of using steel in hybrid action with mass timber.



The Philadelphia chapter presented "Living Off the Land," a symposium discussing the typologies needed to answer questions of ecology, food security, and access to affordable housing.


As part of the Break the Box lecture series, CTBUH CEO Antony Wood presented on "Community, Sustainability & the Skyscraper: Can They Co-Exist?," examining the role of the skyscraper in navigating a high-density urban future that achieves sustainability across both social and resource contexts.


As a lead-up to the CTBUH 2021 International Conference, the Chicago chapter of CTBUH hosted the 2nd Annual Tall Building Team Trivia Night at Fado Irish Pub in Chicago. 


In addition, the Council made its height calculator tool publicly available. The tool calculates peer-based estimates of building height or floor count for specific building functions quickly and easily. Estimates explain the sample size used from our Tall & Urban database comprising more than 37,000 skyscrapers. 


The Height Calculator tool leverages the CTBUH database of over 37,000 skyscrapers. 



The CTBUH 2021 International Conference was held in 19 cities around the world, featuring rigorous, collaborative gatherings centered around a common global theme, “Addressing Carbon, Climate & Societal Crises.” Most programming was held in person and engaged hundreds of delegates worldwide.


Delegates listen attentively to the opening remarks at the CTBUH 2021 Conference event in Chicago.  


Also, the 2021 International Student Design Competition, kindly sponsored by TKE, winner was announced: Smart Cube+/Fast-Assembling COVID-19 Prevention Olympic Village. The team from National Taiwan University of Science and Technology included Chien-Hsun Chen, Han-Yu Lai, and Chun-Yi Yeh.


Smart Cube+/Fast-Assembling COVID-19 Prevention Olympic Village took first place in the 2021 International Student Design Competition.  


The final call for the 2021 research competitions, International Research Seed Funding, sponsored by Arup, and International Student Research Competition, sponsored by Dow, will close on 10 December.  Cumulative prizes totaling US$30,000 are available.


The chapters finished the year strong, with Seattle holding a tour of Climate Pledge Arena and New York City presenting on the redevelopment of 175 Park Avenue. 


With a successful year wrapped up, CTBUH looks forward to all the achievements, events, and exciting growth to come in the new year.