Pre-Conference, Sunday 25 October
The day’s preparations reached a pinnacle with the VIP Reception at One World Trade Center, sponsored by ThyssenKrupp, which took place in the tower’s 64th-floor skylobby. Here, leaders and VIPs enjoyed a concordant combination of networking, expansive Downtown New York views, drinks and canapés, and the euphonious sounds of the evening’s live entertainment. The vantage point offered an appropriate glimpse of the conference to come, a glistening sea of skyscrapers peppered with spires, light displays, and construction cranes. Alexander Durst of The Durst Organization, the owner of the tower, welcomed guests to the new icon. “It is an honor and a pleasure to welcome you to New York City and One World Trade Center. This is perhaps the perfect place to kick off CTBUH 2015, Global Interchanges: Resurgence of the Skyscraper City,” Durst said to the crowd of contented guests.
Earlier in the day, the Annual Leaders Meeting brought together nearly 100 of the Council’s group leaders, regional representatives, trustees, committee chairs, and staff from around the world to discuss new ways to champion the organization’s mission. Chairman David Malott and Executive Director Antony Wood set the tone of the meeting by offering words of gratitude for accomplishments to date and emphasizing the importance of this year’s Conference. “This is not just a conference – this is actually many CTBUH programs coming together in conjunction with our annual event in the form of research outputs, committee meetings, student initiatives, and sponsor programs,” Wood said.
After a sneak peek of the 2015 and 2016 Conference Videos, attendees were addressed by several of the Council’s global office heads and chapter leaders, including Daniel Safarik, CTBUH China Office Director. Safarik gave an update of the numerous initiatives being undertaken in China since the regional office launched in March 2015. He informed leaders that submissions are currently being accepted for the China Awards program, which will be modeled on the successful annual International CTBUH Awards Program and will hold its own Symposium and Dinner in Shanghai in May 2016. Safarik also commented on his time so far in Shanghai, noting “Our office is humble in size, but it is fully operational and we have three staff working jointly with Peng Du in the Chicago Office for coordination and translation purposes.” Safarik also noted the recent addition of Xia Sun, the new Associate Director of the China Office, who has over 20 years of experience in the construction industry and has already provided a critical link to the tall building community in China.
Next, a handful of Chapter Leaders updated the group on the initiatives being undertaken in their part of the world, including: Steve Watts, CTBUH United Kingdom; Bruce Wolfe, CTBUH Australia; and Girish Dravid, CTBUH India. One of the biggest successes that these leaders noted for 2015 was the major increase in chapter activities and the resultant attendance. Compared to the 39 CTBUH regional events that were held in 2014, so far there have been 66 in 2015.
The Leaders also heard from James Parakh, Urban Habitat/Urban Design Committee Chair, who touched on the successes of both the Winter and Warm Weather Walking Tours that took place during 2015, and encouraged everyone to continue supporting this vital series of events.
Read the full meeting report here.
At the same time, the CTBUH Height Committee coalesced for their annual gathering with a full agenda of items regarding the Council’s Height Criteria. The Committee discussed new strategies for tracking renovation and retrofit initiatives in the Skyscraper Center database, as these efforts are becoming all the more common among the world’s aging tall building stock. The topic of “superslims” surfaced quickly, and the group weighed the benefits of having a more accurate way of defining this typology.
Peter Weismantle, Height Committee Chair, gave an update on several of the group’s undertakings over the past year, explaining the newly adopted criteria for co-joined buildings, which now states that 50 percent or more of a building’s total height must be connected for it to be considered co-joined and, therefore, a single building. “The one exception is buildings that are purposefully put together to create a coherent arch or singular architectural expression, and that’s to be judged by the CTBUH Height Committee,” Peter said.
CTBUH Associate Director Steven Henry also chimed in, touching on some of the major media pick-ups that Council has received for its many research outputs and general expertise on measuring tall buildings. He said, “Every quarter we issue a Tall Buildings In Numbers study in the CTBUH Journal, where the Skyscraper Center team finds engaging ways to represent data visually – and we distribute this to our press contacts. These are typically well-received by media outlets, and have really become one of the biggest ways that we interface with the public directly.”
Next, Terri Boake presented the work she has undertaken with her students at Waterloo University, on behalf of the Council, to reorganize the classifications of “composite” structural systems on the Skyscraper Center. Boake analyzed construction photos of the over 600 composite buildings listed on the Skyscraper Center, putting them into subcategories of Concrete Core with Steel Framing, Concrete Filled Steel Tubes, Concrete Encased Steel, and Concrete Columns with Steel Beams. Boake noted that composite structural systems vary widely by region, a dimension that could prove to be another important research topic for the committee. It was agreed that a white paper outlining these subcategories would be drafted for circulation among committee members to advance the discussion on the topic.
Committee members were also treated to the news that work was well underway for the complete Chinese translation of the Skyscraper Center, an initiative that has been progressing quickly since the summer. Several new features were also presented for the database, like the addition of dedicated complex pages. These entries serve as landing pages for tall buildings that are in the same complex, granting the ability to identify companies associated with the planning of these large-scale developments and providing a further layer of organization for the Skyscraper Center.
Read the full meeting report here.
A distinct bustling intensity permeated the halls of the Grand Hyatt throughout the day prior to the 2015 CTBUH Conference. In the main conference spaces, technicians scurried back and forth, some carrying A/V equipment, others treading carefully with giant models of skyscrapers destined for various exhibition suites. In the foyer, wooden assemblages and massive signage constructs took shape, and the signature bluish hue of the Conference began to dominate the visual palette.
As the various pieces began to fit together, 18 months of preparation came into focus through a single realization, that this Conference would perhaps be one of the greatest gatherings of the CTBUH to date, one that would be experienced by a record 1,200 delegates the next day. More on that tomorrow…