Global Leaders Convene to Discuss the New Values in Pursuit of Excellence

15 October 2023, Singapore


CTBUH leaders traveled to the 2023 International Conference in Singapore a day early to attend the Leaders Meeting on Sunday, 15 October. Intended to be a time of networking, organizational updates, and information sharing, the meeting was held at CSuites, a co-working office and meeting area, in space kindly donated by Lendlease.  An impressive 100+ leaders were in attendance from all over the world.  The meeting opened with a welcome by CTBUH Chairman Steve Watts and was followed by updates from CTBUH headquarters by CTBUH President Antony Wood, CTBUH CEO Javier Quintana, and CTBUH Director of Member Engagement Tracie Moxley. 

The Leaders Meeting was held on Sunday, 15 October, in space kindly donated by CSuites and Lendlease.
Leaders were welcomed and had several minutes to chat before the meeting started.
CTBUH President Antony Wood welcomed leaders and gave updates about CTBUH.
The first part of the meeting contained updates on CTBUH initiatives from CTBUH Chairman Steve Watts, CTBUH CEO Javier Quintana de Uña, and CTBUH President Antony Wood.


Immediately after their presentations, updates on global engagement were summarized from leaders chairing the following committees: the Height & Data Committee, College of Fellows, EDI Committee, Walking Tours, Future Leaders Committee, the Conference Steering Committee, and overall chapter activity with a focus on the newly formed Southeast Asia chapter. 

Terri Meyer Boake, chair of the Height & Data committee, discusses its relaunch.
CTBUH Fellows Ron Klemencic and Craig Gibbons announce the College of Fellows.
Meghan McDermott, chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee shares the latest updates from the committee.
Elinor Strapp and Ilayda Oner, leaders of the Future Leaders Committee (FLC), provide an overview of recent activity and the mentoring pilot program.
James Parakh, chair of the Urban Habitat assembly, shares the success of the recent global walking tours.
Singapore Steering Committee members Nina Loo and Claudia Melniciuc discuss the activity of the committee in the lead up to the conference.


After a short break, Mun Summ Wong, Co-Founding Director of WOHA Architects gave an animated presentation on the firm’s work and New Values to Pursue Excellence.  He then sat down with Scott Duncan, Partner, SOM for a Q&A.

Scott Duncan, Partner at SOM, sits down with Mun Summ Wong, Co-Founding Director of WOHA Architects, for a Q&A session.


Following the presenation and Q&A, leaders were split into five groups and asked to discuss the following implications for CTBUH:

  1. What values can be kept, but modified?
  2. What are the new values?
  3. What values are not in alignment and must be eliminated?

Groups discussed the new values, and then came together to share their ideas with the larger group.  


Breakout Group Summaries

Current Values to Keep and Modify

  • Sustainability came up several times from each group: CTBUH should set aggressive goals and be the organization measuring and tracking progress. 
  • CTBUH started as a knowledge sharing organization, internally mostly. It has shifted a bit and now there is a desire to share knowledge outside of our community and really have a say in some of the policy setting decisions that are made in the cities that we all work in. Because the policymakers could use our advice and in how they actually implement those policies. 
  • Innovation is another key value. We need to continue to be an organization that pushes innovation, perhaps even with more collaboration outside of just our industry. We look at a lot of the other industries out there that are innovating much faster than we are, we need to up our game.
  • More leadership and leading in innovation.


New Values to Focus On

  • We need to have social return on investments.
What’s the social impact of tall buildings?
How do we attract the next generation of talent? 
It’s a lot more than about height, it’s about how people experience tall buildings. How can we make them more diverse? 
How can we regain ecosystems as well? 
How can we make buildings more affordable? 
How can we readapt them?
How to measure livability?  
  • Critical values must be looked at like flexibility, resiliency, and making just and fair cities for everybody. We need to also emphasize city buildings – regardless of height - as urban buildings. Height is not always the best option. When we start a project, you need to have the right people together from the beginning to deliver thoughtful, sustainable ecosystems.
  • It is critical to consider the users- the end user. Not that the user is the developer, necessarily, but the users are the people actually in the buildings at the end. And we need to have a better engagement with the users and understanding their expectations and helping them understand what's practical in buildings. Our membership right now is just AEC community, but should it be more diverse, both from the types of population and also really encouraging more younger membership engagement as they are going to be future leaders and future occupiers of our buildings.
  • We need to reshift our focus into existing buildings. Renovation. We know there's going to be a lot of distressed assets out there. We need to figure out how to use existing buildings rather than just tearing them down.
  • Discussion around more promotion of mixed-use, like schools being at the base of buildings and different scenarios like having storage in the building and then something public/usable at the top. Currently transportation and other city amenities not contributing to the building use, and tall buildings especially and that we need to keep an eye on population changes and understand how that will be changing in the 30 years, and even 50- and 100-years’ time.
  • Again, more focus on the repurpose and adaptive use and reuse of buildings and how that could be happening. Especially with the population decrease in large cities, like in China and some in Europe. This should be a future conference topic where we discuss urbanization, and the repurpose of the urbanization, not just the buildings. 
  • Design criteria doesn’t take into consideration all actual needs and needs to be looked at further. i.e. German office floor plates are very different than Tokyo office floor plates.  Converting this to a national standard is not really adaptive because of their floor plate size—new buildings should be adaptive so that they could be used in the future for a changing population and use, and how does this fit with standardization?
  • More emphasis on inclusiveness, equity, humanism, and people caring about people.
  • Post occupation data is critical to obtain.
  • It's important to integrate CTBUH to the general public to become more visible. In Denmark, industry is mandating LCA assessments. From Toronto, and other places, housing agenda is a priority and they need more incentives to stimulate affordable housing. CTBUH is a resource for connecting and sharing the knowledge of its members and best practices.
  • People connectivity is very important.
  • Low carbon materials are very important. We need to be more political/activist. We need to make buildings better.


Values That are not in Alignment 

  • The collapse of the office affects business in general. In five years’ time, most of the office leases will be ending. That conversation has us thinking and asking about a long-term solution and how this will change cities in general. We need to look into cities as ecosystems with infrastructure so people want to go to offices and want to live nearby. It can be a one hour drive or use of other transportation to an office. The new generation doesn't want to do that.
  • There's really no connection between tall buildings and urban habitat. How can they be part of the whole?
  • Question this more: do we really need tall(er) buildings? In current urban cities, we are losing the aspect of urban design, where cities are not walkable and are not built for senior citizens, which will be the majority of the population in coming near future.
  • Roadblocks: global applicability and bureaucracy, politics and assuring buy in from the whole and from the committee but also externals. 
At the conclusion of the meeting, Mun Summ Wong provided an overview of WOHA’s recent project, the Pan Pacific Orchard Hotel, which was the location of the Leaders Reception immediately following.


Leaders Reception


After the meeting, leaders left CSuites and went to the Pan Pacific Orchard Hotel where they could mingle and enjoy light bites on the 18th floor Cloud Terrace and Claymoor Ballroom. The Leaders Reception was generously sponsored by Magnusson Klemencic Associates (MKA).

Ron Klemencic, Chairman and CEO of MKA, welcomed guests.


CTBUH President Antony Wood announced a surprise tribute to the outgoing CTBUH Chairman Steve Watts.

CTBUH President Antony Wood announced a surprise tribute to the outgoing CTBUH Chairman Steve Watts.
Incoming CTBUH Chairman Shonn Mills offers a toast to Steve Watts.
Leaders watch a short film about Steve Watts’ tenure as chairman.
CTBUH CEO Javier Quintana de Uña presents Steve Watts with a cityscape of Chicago.


View the full gallery of photos from the day here.