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Report by CTBUH Advisory Group Member Donald Davies, Magnusson Klemencic Associates

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Greg Kelly, COO, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, discusses infrastructure at Hudson Yards.

This room was a frequently packed house, with thought provoking and insightful presentations that spanned the globe with insights into what it means to build vertically.

Greg Kelly, COO of WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, offered an interesting look at the infrastructure impacts of density with a case study of the Hudson Yards project. John Britton and Steve Hargis of Woods Bagot followed with a look at the vertical campus as a solution for increasingly dense urban environments.

A thoughtful presentation by Paul Scott of Make Architecture and Bill Price and David Healy of WSP, centered on London’s affinity to give nicknames to their new landmark towers. A London and New York comparative Q&A ensued, with recognition that cities move from tower naming to address identifications as their vertical densities increase. New York’s branding for the Empire State and Chrysler Building’s, compared to the more current One World Trade Center or 432 Park Avenue towers, illustrated this point.

Information on One World Trade Center was presented first by Judith Dupré, Architectural Historian and Author, with an inspiring look at the significance of the project. This was followed by more detailed discussions by Ahmad Rahimian, Yoram Eilon, and Kenneth Lewis on the challenges and solutions that were brought forward in the design. Highlights included the first use of 14,000 psi concrete in New York. The tower contains a concrete core to organize its spine, providing a stiff center to the dual system frame, as well as hardened enclosures for the vertical means of egress.

The following day added a further look at verticality and the challenges of building tall. Presentations described New York’s recent explosion of ultra slim residential towers, including case studies of 432 Park Avenue, 53 West 53rd Street, and 111 West 57th Street.

Panel discussion on the engineering of One World Trade Center.

In his presentation on 53 West 53rd, David Penick, Managing Director of Hines, New York, insightfully explained how the zoning, entitlement, and air rights transfer processes of New York – while cumbersome and long in duration – have allowed for the construction of these towers. He described how New York’s luxury residential price points (at US $7,000 – US$8,000 per square foot and higher) have made these projects financially viable, even with their 15-plus-foot floor-to-floor heights and ultra-slim aspect ratios. He also cautioned that market saturation would limit how many of these projects will ultimately be successful in this current market cycle.

Dana Getman, Lead Architect of SHoP Associates, described the 111 West 57th Street tower and its ultra-slim aspect ratio of 1:24. He showed how the one–unit-per-floor tower was configured with a scissor stair and two elevators for vertical circulation. He also highlighted their efforts to define the tower form as seen from distance as well as at a more intimate scale.

Technical discussions looked at how the structural frames on these towers have been pushed to the building perimeters; how the 15 to 16-foot floor-to-floor heights have allowed for perimeter beams, bracing, and walls, while still allowing for significant views from inside; and how tuned mass damping systems and wind-tunnel optimization help control human perception to motion.

The Urban Challenges of Density were debated in a moderated session Tuesday afternoon, with insights from around the globe by Carl Galioto of HOK, New York; Nick Jackson of Eric Parry Architects, London; Ken McBryde of Hassell Architects, Sydney; James Von Klemperer of KPF, New York; and Peter Weingarten of Gensler, Oakland. Notable focus was given to the need for infrastructure and mass transit investment, and the importance to maintaining quality of life – as it is a driving force behind where people choose to live. The last presentation of the day was given jointly by CTBUH Trustee Vincent Tse, Managing Director and Building Services of WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, and Herbert Lam, Director and Building Services of WSP, on the challenges of vertical transportation for the world’s tallest buildings.

The sessions were closed by David Cooper, bringing to full circle the two days of presentations.

Monday, October 26, 2015

11:10 – 11:15 AM

David Cooper, President of Buildings, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, New York

11:15 – 11:45 AM

“Global Cities: The Skyscraper Report”
James Roberts, Chief Economist, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank

11:45 AM – 12:15 PM

“West Side Story: Infrastructure Driving Urban Verticality (Case Study: Hudson Yards)”
Greg Kelly, Chief Operating Officer, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, New York

12:15 – 12:45 PM

“The Vertical Campus: Maximizing Building Effectiveness in an Increasingly Dense, Urban Environment”
John Britton,  Director of Projects, Woods Bagot, San Francisco
Steve Hargis, Global Consulting Leader, Woods Bagot, San Francisco

12:45 – 1:45 PM

Lunch Break

1:45 – 2:30 PM

“Why Do London’s Towers All Have Nicknames?  The Impact of Planning and Policy on Architecture and Engineering in European Cities”
Bill Price, Director, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, London
David Healy, Technical Director, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, London
Paul Scott, Partner, Make Architects, London

2:30 – 3:15 PM

“Engineering an Icon:  How One World Trade Center Redefined Structural Engineering and Recreated an Icon for New York”
Intro: Judith Dupré, Architectural Historian and Author, New York
Video Premiere: Presentation on the Reconstruction of One World Trade Center
Ahmad Rahimian, Director of Building Structures, New York
Yoram Eilon, Senior Vice President of Building Structures, New York
Q&A Session with Kenneth Lewis, Managing Partner, SOM, New York

3:15 – 3:45 PM

Coffee Break

3:45 – 4:45 PM

“Angles on the Australian Tall Tower Market Including Premier Tower Aka ‘Beyoncé Tower’ at 134 Spencer Street”
Architects Perspective: Callum Fraser, Director, Elenberg Fraser Architects, Melbourne
Contractors View: John Gaskin, Regional & Associate Director, Brookfield Multiplex / CTBUH Advisory Group, Brisbane
Engineering Angle: Mark Hennesy, Director, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, Melbourne

4:45 – 5:15 PM

“Tall Stories From Toronto: How Skylines Reflect and Develop a City’s Personality”
James Parakh, Urban Design Manager, City of Toronto Planning Division / CTBUH Advisory Group, Toronto

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

11:10 – 11:15 AM

Silvian Marcus, Director of Building Structures, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, New York

11:15 – 11:45 AM

“432 Park Avenue: Engineering in the Sky”
Hezi Mena, Senior Vice President, Building Structures, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, New York
Gary Pomerantz, Executive Vice President, Building Services, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, New York

11:45 AM – 12:15 PM

“MoMA Tower: Developing A New Landmark for New York”
David Penick, Managing Director, Hines, New York

12:15 – 12:45 PM

“How to Make a Manhattan Skyscraper: The Story of 111 West 57th Street”
Dana Getman, Lead Project Architect, SHoP Associates, New York

12:45 – 1:45 PM

Lunch Break

1:45 – 3:00 PM

“The Urban Challenges of Verticality”
Moderated by Steve Burrows, Executive Vice President, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, San Francisco
Carl Galioto, Managing Principal, HOK , New York
Nick Jackson, Director, Eric Parry Architects, London
Ken McBryde, Principal, Hassell Architects / CTBUH Regional Representative, Sydney
Jamie Von Klemperer, Principal, KPF, New York
Peter Weingarten, Principal, Gensler / CTBUH Regional Representative, San Francisco

3:00 – 3:30 PM

“Moving People Up to the Sky: Overcoming the MEP and VTS Design Challenges of Asia’s Supertall Towers”
Vincent Tse, Managing Director, Building Services, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, China / CTBUH Trustee, Hong Kong
Herbert Lam, Director, Building Services WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, Hong Kong

3:30 PM

Close and Thanks
David Cooper, President of Buildings, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, New York