Rise Up: The CTBUH’s 10th World Congress
Earlier this month in Chicago, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat 10th World Congress provided the grounds for design presentations and lively discussions of tall buildings. The conference theme of 50 Forward | 50 Back explored the most significant advancements in tall buildings and cities from the last 50 years, whilst projecting into the future of our cities 50 years from now. The event provided a critical reflection on both the skyscraper typology and urban development in an era of climate change, economic inequality, population growth, evolving social structures, and challenges of physical networks infrastructure. The conference tracks included urban planning and infrastructure, smart technology/automation, resilience and climate change, passive environmental strategies, tall timber structural systems, modular construction, inter-/intra-building transportation, the future of the workplace, and building modeling.
I presented both the tower and underlying concept of the design for a 200-meter-tall commercial office tower in Shenzhen, China, which meets the CTBUH’s contextual criteria for tall-building status. Similar to the way rock formations along the world’s coast lines stack over time, a curvaceous tower emerges like an arch from a retail podium. Both forms are designed as incubators that support workplace innovation, productivity, and health for the tech-oriented business community of Shenzhen, China. Recent research has found the positive impact sinuous, soft-organic physical forms have on human well-being. For example, visual exposure to curvilinear form has been shown to change human physiology, slowing heart rates and breathing, lowering blood pressure, and reducing stress levels – and the underlying impact on workplace comfort and productivity in this context is significant. To that end, our design composition for the tower draws from sea stack formations in the ocean, and taps into the longing for individualism, adventure, and self-discovery of the emerging workplace generation.
Moshe Safdie, principal, Safdie Architects, in his keynote presentation, “The Garden City in Three Dimensions.” Photo courtesy CTBUH.
Socio-economic changes and new environmental design and performance requirements of tall buildings are pointing to a new generation of high-rise buildings that are increasingly more interconnected. The successful integration of interrelating sky lounges and amenity roof decks, urban farming and the implementation of mixed-use programming connects towers horizontally at the peak of the vertical plane. These stacked neighborhoods are becoming central organizing elements and infrastructure extensions in rapidly expanding urban centers. The core conference included speaker and poster presentations, regional rooms, panel discussions, and numerous workshops, as well as off-site programs across numerous tall building and urban venues in Chicago, including a closing plenary from Moshe Safdie who advocated for a vertical, mixed-use urban agenda that seeks unconventional spatial allocations and building organization to enhance the occupant experience. Similar to the Sky Lounge of our Shenzhen Sea Stack Tower, public/private roof top amenities can be design tools that enable exploration and relaxation in an urban environment. The conference was extended by regional city programs in Toronto and New York City.
Shenzen Sea Stack Tower in Shenzen, China. Rendering by DLR Group.
Learn more about innovations in tall buildings, such a conceptual case study for a 12-story mixed-use mass timber tower in the Pacific Northwest.