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Best Tall Buildings 2011

Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, 211 pages

8 Spruce Street by Gehry
New York by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street

By Carter B. Horsley

Every year since 2007, the 40-year-old Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat based in Chicago publishes a book on the year's best buildings in four major regions: the Americas. Asia and Australasia, Europe, and the Middle East & Africa.

In each region, it declares one "winner," but also adds finalists and nominees, in varying numbers.  In total, the 2010 edition discusses in good detail 87 tall buildings as compared to 54 in 2009.

The 76-story, 870-foot-high tower was developed by Forest City Ratner and designed by Frank O. Gehry (see The City Review article on Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition).  It contains 900 apartments in the stainless-steel tower and its orange-brick, 5-story base contains office space for the New York Downtown Hospital and a pre-kindergarten-eighth-grade public school. 

Plan of tower
Plan of tower floor

Thirty percent of the site is landscaped plazas with through-block pedestrian spaces on its east and west sides and the west side has a porte-corchere for the residential lobby. 

Top of New York by Gehry

Top of New York by Gehry

Each floor of the residential tower has a different configuration and Gehry employed software.  The book noted that "there were zero change orders from the contractor on the curtain wall, a remarkable feat and a significant cost saving on the project."

South side of tower

South side of 8 Spruce

The tower's aesthetic is free-form and organic with the exception of its south facade that is, sadly, shear and without the marvelous and mind-boggling undulations.

Capital Gate in Dubai
Capital Gate in Dubai

This 540-foot-tall tower in Abu Dhabi is known as Capital Gate and was developed by the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company.  It was designed by RMIM.  The quite unusual tower was a nominee in the Middle East & Africa region.

It was built with an 18-degree westward lean, holding the Guinness World Record for the "world's furthest leaning manmade tower."

"The building's form represents a swirling spiral of sand.  The curved canopy, known as the 'Splash,' which runs over the adjoining grandstand and rises up on one side of the building, creates a wave-like effect while shading the facade....The floor plates change shape and orientation to created the distinctive overhang moving from "curved triangular" to "curved rectangular," while increasing in overall size and migrating from east to west as they progress up the tower.  The building has a completely asymmetric shape - no two rooms at the same and all 12,500 panes of glass on the facade are a different size.  A diagrid structural system was utilitized in which all 8,259 steel diagrid members are of different thicknesses, length and orientation and each of the 822 diagrid nodes are of a different size and angular configuration."

Net Center Padova

Net Center in Padova, Italy

With its red sunshades and flaring design, this tower, which is known as the Net Center, is one of the book's most dramatic.  It was developed by Progetto Acciaio and the architect was LVL Architettura.  It is located in an outskirt region on the eastern side of Padova...called San Lazarro. 

Net Center in Padova different view
New Center in Padova, Italy, different view

The plan calls for trapezoidal shapes at the bottom and top with the plans changing at every level.  The tower has reflecting pools on two sides and is surrounded by four buildngs including a 140-foot-room hotel beneath offices, two two-rise structures and a pavilion.

Circle in Dubai

Aldar Headquarters in Abu Dhabi

This vertically circular tower is 361 feet tall and was developed by Aldar Properties and designed by M7 Architects. 


The Guangzhou International Finance Center

The Guangzhou Interntiional Finance Center became China's fourth tallest and the world's ninth tallest at the time of its completion.  It was the council's winner in the Asia and Australasia regions.  It is 1,419 feet high and has developed by Yue Xiu Group.  Wilkinson Eyre was the architect.  The tower's three facades form a curved triangular tower whose highest point is a helicopter landing pad, which hovers over the central atrium.  The tower has office space on floors 2 through 67 and a Four Seasons hotel and an observation area.  The tower is slightly wider about a third of the way up.

Capital City in Moscow

Capital City in Moscow

Part of a three-building complex, it has two residential towers, the 996-foot-high Moscow Tower and the 844-foot-high.  The project was developed by the Capital Group and designed by NBBJ.  It was a nominee for best tall building in Europe. The project's towers are stacked glass boxes with elegant and refined patterning that are enhanced by the slight "twisting" of the boxes. Construction of the Moscow Tower was completed in 2008 when it surpassed the Naberezhnaya Tower as the tallest in Europe.  The complex was completed in 2009 and the Moscow Tower was exceeded in height in 2012 by The Shard in London.

Sky Tower in Abu Dhabi

Sky Tower in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates

"Sky Tower is the taller of two towers that rise alongside the monumental portico of The Gate project like welcoming orches (Sun Tower being the other)" in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, the book stated.

The entire complex was erected by Sorouh Real Estate Development and designed by Arquitectonica, the architectural firm based in Miami.

These two towers, elliptical in plan, adjoin The Gate, a three-legged project with an enormous rooftop skydeck, modeled somewhat after Moshe Safdie's famous Marina Sands project in Singapore.

These two, slim towers are exceedingly elegant with the gray, tiny polka-dot fenestration and very thin, protruding vertical piers that boldly and dramatically but subtely interrupt the lovely facades like clefts from a Lucio Fontana panting.

The council's book notes that "the facades of the towers are adorned with a series of crystals that sparkle in the sunlight."

Twin Star in Shanghai

RivieraTwinStar in Shanghai

The 50-story Riviera TwinStar towers in Shanghai were developed by Shanghai Rui Ming RE Co. (JV of CITIC Pacific Group and China State Shipping Corporation).  A "finalist" in the Asia and Australasia region, it was designed by Arquitectonica.  Each tower houses a different bank company.  The book notes that "the facing inner curves are lit at night to emphasize the distinctive shape and monumental scale of the space," adding that "their nautical symmetry conveys memories of the ships that were once launched from the site's now relocated Shanghai Shipyards."

Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi

Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi 

Etihad Towers is a mixed-use development located on the prestigious coastline of Khalidyah, composed of five towers ranging from 49 to 76 stories above a five-level podium. The towers contain a mix of office and residential space as well as a five-star hotel and a retail mall.  The project was a "nominee" for best tall building in the Middle East & Africa.

This project differs from other projects in the region because of its unique planning process, in which all key project components were introduced from the very outset. In addition, the project owner, project manager, consultants, contractor, facility manager, hotel operator, district cooling services provider, bank/financier and real estate/property manager were each involved from the initial planning stages, thus allowing for a continuous flow of communication and an ability to manage the expectations of all parties concerned in an effective and timely manner.

The towers are located opposite the Emirates Palace hotel and feature offices, apartments and a hotel. Towers 2 and 5 topped out in November 2010.

A year later, in November 2011, the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel which belongs to Jumeirah Group was opened in Tower 1. Tori No Su Japanese restaurant opened within the hotel in 2012. The adjacent Tower 2 is (as of December 2012) the tallest building on Abu Dhabi island and the second tallest in Abu Dhabi after Sky Tower on Al Reem Island. Tower 2 has an observation deck in the 75th floor which is accessible from the hotel via a lower level linking podium.

Bella Sky Towers in Copenhagen

Bella Sky Towers in Copenhagen

The two Bella Sky Towers in Copenhagen lean 15 degrees to each side and the top 10 floors shift horizontally.  It was developed by Bella Center A/S and designed by 3XN A/S.  The towers are connected at the top floor by a skybridge and the project has 814 hotel rooms.  They are a nominee for best tall building project in Europe. 

Melbourne Crown

  Crown Metropol in Melbourne

"Planned in a loose 'S'-shaped form," the book notes, "the design of Crown Metropol breaks free from conventional boutique hotel typologies to explore the contemporary redefinition of an urban retreat."  The project in Melbourne was developed by Crown Limited and designed by Bates Smart Pty, Ltd.
Facade detail of Crown Metropol
Facade detail of Crown Metropol in Melbourne

"Planned in a loose 'S'-shaped form," the book notes, "the design of Crown Metropol breaks free from conventional boutique hotel typologies to explore the contemporary redefinition of an urban retreat."  The project in Melbourne was developed by Crown Limited and designed by Bates Smart Pty, Ltd.

"The cladding strategy," the book continued, "seeks to enhance the sinuous 'S' curve via the accentuation of the dropped shadows and pockets of reflection found withint the twisting polished form via the use of dark colored, delicatedly trimmed aluminum fins which cluster together in a diagonal pattern across the west facade.   The individually crafter units emerge in and out of the shadow gap between the glass panels in an incredibly simple detail that builds a sense of surprise, dynamic shift and changing appearance when approaching the hotel from different sides, and leads to an overall sensuous appearance to the building."


The Troika in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Troika is a 689-foot-high, residential project consisting of three uneven towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  It was developed by Bandar Raya Development Berhad and designed by Foster & Partners.  The  towers have skybridges are the 24th floor and slender shear concrete walls that rise a bit about the tops of the building.

Busan by Liekeskind

Haeundae I' Park in Busan, South Korea

Haeundae I' Park is a multi-building complex in Busan, South Korea, that was a "nominee" in the Asia & Australasia region.  It was by the Hyundai Development Company and designed by Studio Daniel Liebeskind.  The complex consists of three high-rise residential buildings, a nine-story office building and a three-story retail building.  The book notes that "the curvilinear geometry of the buildings plays with concepts of traditional Korean architecture, often derived from natural beauty such as the grace of an ocean wave."
Wooward's W43 in Vancouver
Woodward's W43 in Vancouver

Woodward's W43 in Vancouver was a "nominee" in the Americas region.  The 401-foot-high building was developed by the W Redevelopment Group and designed by Henriquez Partners.  The book notes that the building's very attractive steel screens evoke "the steel construction method used  in Vancouver in the early 20th Century."

The council awarded its Lynn S. Beedle Award for Lifetime Achievement to Adrian Smith, a parner with Gordon Gill.  They were the architects of Burj Khalifa in Dubai that was erected as the world's tallest building in 2010.
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