Tuesday, 17 November 2020 | Live-Streamed from Singapore, London, and Chicago
Connecting more than 750 delegates from 42 countries, the CTBUH 2020 Live-Streamed Conference “The Post-Crisis City” was hugely successful. With speakers like Lord Norman Foster, Christopher Hawthorne, and Tatiana Bilbao, covering issues such as the future of the "global city," public health, and public space across 11 sessions, delivered timely presentations and critical discussions from global thought leaders considering how sustainable vertical urbanism can be rethought for the city of the future.
The program commenced the morning of 17 November in Singapore, where, due to local COVID-19 guidelines, the sessions were able to take place at a physical venue, Capital Tower, complete with coffee breaks, lunch, and a live Q&A.
Delegates register for the conference during the live portion in Singapore.
Seah Chee Huang, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, DP Architects, offers his insights during the conference's opening session.
After CTBUH CEO Antony Wood’s opening address, the first session, “Health & Wellness as Primary Societal Priorities” commenced, chaired by Shonn Mills, Global Director, High-Rise, Ramboll. The session featured presentations on how wellness is being addressed, through adjustments to physical space and operations by Wood, Chew Peet Mun, Managing Director, Workspace and Residential, CapitaLand Limited; Ruzica Bozovic-Stamenovic, Associate Professor, Leader Urbanism Research Cluster, National University of Singapore; and Seah Chee Huang, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, DP Architects.
Conference attendees sit socially distanced during the live portion of the program.
Session 2, “Building Industry Adaptations for Uncertain Times,” was chaired by Steve Perkins, Senior Technical Director (Building Services), Beca Group, and revolved around how the pandemic has upended the building industry, requiring rapid reconfiguration and repurposing of built space, outlining ways for the industry to become more flexible and adaptive. Presenters included: Tai Fatt Cheng, Managing Director, Building and Construction Authority; Santeri Suoranta, New Equipment Business Director, KONE; Ian Smith, VP, Special Projects, TK Elevator AG; and Michael Argyrou, Managing Director, Hickory Group.
Fun Siew Leng, Chief Urban Designer, Urban Redevelopment Authority – URA, answers a question during the session "Urban-Scale Responses in the Pandemic Recovery."
After a lunch break, where attendees were able to enjoy some socially-distanced sustenance, Session 3 took place, highlighting how cities are working to maintain economic vitality and public health simultaneously, without undoing the work many have done to limit sprawl and encourage transit-oriented development. Entitled “Urban-Scale Responses in the Pandemic Recovery,” this session included presentations by Fun Siew Leng, Chief Urban Designer, Urban Redevelopment Authority – URA; Andrew Brahney, Head of SMART (MEAP), Ramboll; Johann Kruse, Property Technology & Global Lendlease Alliance Lead, Google; and Craig Miller, Partner and Project Leader, Heatherwick Studio.
Mun Summ Wong, Founding Director, WOHA (left) and Limin Hee, Director, Centre for Liveable Cities Ministry of National Development (right), share their perspectives during the London/Singapore panel discussion.
We need to re-center cities towards human well-being.
- Limin Hee, Director, Centre for Liveable Cities, Ministry of National Development
A robust panel discussion, “Reimagining the Global City” followed, with participants joining live from both Singapore and London. These included Mun Summ Wong, Founding Director, WOHA; Limin Hee, Director, Centre for Liveable Cities, Ministry of National Development; Steve Watts, Partner, Alinea Consulting; Jon Neale, Head of Research, JLL; Bek Seeley, Managing Director, Development Europe, Lendlease; and Patrik Schumacher, Principal, Zaha Hadid Architects. Moderated by Houssein Rezai, Director, Web Structures Pte Ltd, the discussion explored the essential quandary of how the “global city” could be reimagined to support more sustainable outcomes and mitigate the risks that come with a connected world. “We need to rethink the way we go about planning and designing our built environment; we’re not the only species on earth,” said Wong. “It’s not that we should be against free trade and globalization, but…[we] need to find ways to reduce our ecological and carbon footprint. The pandemic is a passing matter, but climate change is the most pressing issue that needs to be addressed in this generation.” Echoing this sentiment, Hee weighed in: “We need to re-center cities towards human well-being.”
Peter Murray, Curator in Chief, New London Architecture, (left) interviews Lord Norman Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners (right), on how to create healthier, more social and sustainable cities going forward.
Historically, the city always bounces back stronger, more resilient, and with a higher quality of public infrastructure.
- Norman Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners
Kicking off the London program, Peter Murray, Curator in Chief, New London Architecture, conducted an exclusive virtual interview with Lord Norman Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners, that asked the legendary architect’s perspective on how lessons from this pandemic can pave the way for healthier and more social cities. When asked how the pandemic will affect the city, and whether we need to create a strong strategy to ensure a massive exodus towards the suburbs and country doesn’t take place, Foster responded: “Don’t you think that the history of cities is cyclic?...Even in periods of despair, the city has always been attractive,” said Foster. “During the 1832 cholera epidemic, which killed off one in seven in New York City, half the population moved out to the country; but historically, the city always bounces back stronger, more resilient, and with a higher quality of public infrastructure.” He then gave the example of how Central Park, with its open spaces and reservoirs, was built in response to the cholera pandemic.
William Algaard, Director, Arup, virtually delivers the presentation, "Resilience and Adaptability: Long-Term Planning for a More Sustainable Future."
This intimate discussion segued perfectly into Session 6, “High-Rise Adaptability, Resilience & Technology,” where presenters delved into case studies showcasing the mechanical and digital technologies that will help foster more flexible and responsive tall buildings. This session’s speaker roster included Jeanette Hansen, CEO, 3XN Architects; William Algaard, Director, Arup; Christian Studer, Head of New Technologies, Schindler; and Vince Ugarow, Director, Hilson Moran.
Annelie Kvick Thompson, Partner Transport, Grimshaw Architects (left) chairs “The New Trajectory of Urban Growth & Connectivity,” featuring James Bircumshaw, Infrastructure Manager, Skyports (top left); Josep Bohigas, CEO, Barcelona Regional (top right); Stuart Baillie, Head of Planning, Knight Frank (bottom left); and Carolyn Steel, Director, Kilburn Nightingale Architects and author of Hungry City and Sitopia (bottom right).
During Session 7, “The New Trajectory of Urban Growth & Connectivity,” presentations grappled with how the enormous investments cities make in transportation and building infrastructure could be put to appropriate use given the presence of a global pandemic that discourages, if only temporarily, density and the public transit networks that support it. Speakers touched on everything from food systems to vertiports.
Participants in the panel discussion, "Social and Economics Impacts of the Work-From-Home Surge." Top row, from left: William Murray, Director & Founding Partner, Wordsearch Place; Alison Brooks, Principal and Creative Director, Alison Brooks Architects; Marija Zima-Bockarjova, R&D and Marketing Manager for Smart Cities and Solutions, ABB. Bottom row, from left: Roger Madelin, Joint Head of Canada Water, British Land Company PLC; Damla Gerhart, Senior Managing Director, CBRE Group, Inc.; and Ted Weldon, Executive General Manager – Development, Lendlease.
In Session 8, “Social and Economic Impacts of the Work-From-Home Surge,” panelists discussed how they’ve dealt with working from home in their own lives and companies, touching on environment, mental health, and virtual project coordination.
We get a lot of training on how to be a good leader, but training around how to manage through a crisis is generally not on the top of the agenda.
- Damla Gerhart, Senior Managing Director, CBRE Group, Inc
Murray and Gerhart both talked about how mental health in the workplace has become a particularly salient topic in 2020, when many people have been kept away from their workplace social networks for months on end. “Researchers have shown that depression has doubled, and mental health issues have been exacerbated,” said Murray. “After all, we are social animals who need to be close to each other, who need to be connecting.” Gerhart added “We get a lot of training on how to be a good leader, but training around how to manage through a crisis is generally not on the top of the agenda. We talk about building resilience with our employees, checking in not just about how work is going, but about how their mental health is and how they’re feeling day-to-day. I think we are all better equipped to deal with it should another crisis arise.”
Andre Brumfield, Urban Strategies & Design Leader, Principal, Gensler talks about the impact of the pandemic on Black-owned small businesses.
Henry Grabar, Staff Writer, Slate, explores how parking lots could be put to more valuable use.
Session 9, “Public Space and the COVID-Conscious Neighborhood” the first item on the Chicago program, introduced lessons learned about how rich, layered communities can serve their populations’ needs for sustenance and connection. Featuring presentations from Josh Sirefman, Senior Advisor and Co-Founder, Sidewalk Labs; Jaron Lubin, Design Principal, Safdie Architects; Andre Brumfield, Urban Strategies & Design Leader, Principal, Gensler; and Henry Grabar, Staff Writer, Slate, the session explored the value of shared public space and fully developed local neighborhoods in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Participants in the session, "Collisions vs. Distancing: Workplace Evolutions." Top row, from left: Hi Sun Choi, Senior Principal, Thornton Tomasetti (chair); Michael Palmer, Managing Principal, Perkins&Will; Stephen Nichols, Associate Director, Systems Engineering, Otis Elevator Company. Bottom row, from left: Qingyan Chen, James G. Dwyer Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University; Luke Rondel, Senior Director of Channel Partnerships, Saltmine; Edward Peck, Managing Director, Edward Peck Design.
In Session 10, “Collision vs. Distancing: Workplace Evolutions,” presentations explored how workplaces should be designed and adapted to fuel the need for collaboration, while also operating safely in the new distanced normal that has resulted from the pandemic.
Judith Allen, Chief Operating Officer, Communities in Schools (left) moderates Session 11, "Toward an Inclusive Crisis Response: Global Approaches." Panelists, top row, from left: Julius L. Jones, Assistant Curator, Chicago History Museum; Christopher Hawthorne, Chief Design Officer, City of Los Angeles; Eugenia Concha, Head of Design, El Equipo Mazzanti. Bottom row, from left: Tatiana Bilbao, Principal, Tatiana Bilbao, ESTUDIO; Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Partner, Bjarke Ingels Group; and Bruce Mau, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Massive Change Network.
The Conference’s final session, “Toward an Inclusive Crisis Response: Global Approaches” was an engaging panel discussion that gathered valuable perspectives to inform effective responses to crises taking place on local and global scales. Jones used some of his research about a previous crisis facing Chicagoans—the Chicago Fire, in the context of the current pandemic, examining how to lay the groundwork for more equitable economic opportunities in a way that wasn’t seen in the aftermath of the fire. “People who had been business owners before the fire were given the means to recover. But if someone hadn’t started their small business yet, they were denied access to those same resources,” said Jones. “As we start thinking about jobs that closed, and the many people that been furloughed, can we think about new economic opportunities that can exist for people, and can we provide people with the resources to be able to access those opportunities?”
Julius L. Jones, Assistant Curator, Chicago History Museum talks about equitable economic opportunity in the context of the post-crisis city.
You may have a dry building, but the streets may still flood.
- Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Partner, Bjarke Ingels Group
Bergman talked about flooding and how policy and design could potentially improve around that given the increase in natural disasters. “When the city floods,” he said, referring specifically to Hurricane Sandy, which hit the east coast tremendously hard, “it floods everything. In the aftermath of Sandy, insurance companies do not approach flood protection as a collective, city-wide issue. Every single building or plot is still a single investment. You may have a dry building, but the streets may still flood. It’s actually a very backward approach to dealing with large-scale, infrastructural change.”
Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Partner, Bjarke Ingels Group, talks about flooding infrastructure during the conference's concluding panel discussion.
If you weren’t able to attend, you can still watch recordings of all sessions through the Conference app, sponsored by KONE. Session recordings will be available for the next two months, including the pre-recorded sessions that comprise a wealth of material that wasn’t part of the live portion of the program. Explore the buttons below to access registration, the conference content, or the on-demand content.