DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES /// A WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF PUBLICATION

 
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES /// A WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF PUBLICATION
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES /// A WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF PUBLICATION
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES /// A WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF PUBLICATION
WELCOME
WE ARE IN A
                     E
                                ngineering is not just about
                                science and technology, but
                                                                                                           CONTENTS
                                                                                                           04	THE RENAISSANCE OF TALL
                                                                                                           	Skyscrapers are being completed at a rate of nearly

                                                                                                           16
                                                                                                                350 a year. What can we expect from this new
                                                                                                                high-rise generation?
                                                                                                                  THE SKY AND OTHER LIMITS
                                                                                                                  The many challenges of planning skyscraper cities
GLOBAL AGE                      experience. We have been
                   designing iconic, efficient tall buildings for
OF TALL AND        more than 50 years, and it’s that
                                                                                                           26 FAR WEST SIDE STORY
                                                                                                           	How a Manhattan railyard became the US’s biggest
SUPER-TALL         experience that makes us unique. Around
                                                                                                              ever real-estate development
                   the world, we are combining the latest
BUILDINGS. IT’S    tools and technologies with an in-depth                                                 32 AN ICON FROM EVERY ANGLE
                   understanding of how tall buildings behave
IMPORTANT TO       to create the next generation of towers.
                                                                                                           	One World Trade Center has rewritten the rulebook on
                                                                                                              tall building design
CONSIDER ALL OF         In this magazine, we discuss many of
THE IMPLICATIONS   the engineering and architecture
                   challenges, but also speak to architects,
                   planners, developers and clients for a more
                   complete overview of the requirements
                                                                    Ahmad Rahimian
                                                                             Ahmad Rahimian
                                                                                                           42 THE RISING CONTINENT
                                                                                                           	The Asian-inspired skyscrapers transforming
                                                                                                              Australia’s skylines
                                                                    Director of Building Structures, USA
                   and economics of tall buildings and what                                                48 THE VERTICAL SOCIETY
                   they will mean for cities.                                                              	Preparing for a future of living, working and playing
                        Many of these discussions took place in                                               at great height
                   the WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff host room
                   at the 2015 Council for Tall Buildings and                                              56 RETURN TO SLENDER
                   Urban Habitats conference in New York.                                                  	Structural gymnastics meets Art Deco grace in
                   We would like to thank everyone who                                                        Manhattan
                   spoke during the event, and the many
                   attendees who came to join us over the                                                  64 SECRETS OF THE MEGA-TALL
                   two days. We have tried to distill the best                                             	China is leading the way on 500m-plus towers –
                   of the content here – we hope you will find                                                and the hidden systems that make them work
                   it interesting.

                                                                    Kamran Moazami
                                                                            Kamran Moazami
                                                                      Head of Building Structures, UK

                                                                                                             Editor: Julie Guppy, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff
                                                                                                             Copy: Wordmule
                                                                                                             Inhouse photography: Nicola Evans, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff
                                                                                                             Design and production: Supreme Creative Ltd
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES /// A WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF PUBLICATION
AS MORE AND MORE OF THE

                                                     RENAISSANCE
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES ///

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   THE RENAISSANCE OF TALL ///
                                  WORLD’S POPULATIONS MOVE                                                    “WE ARE LIVING AT THE CROSSROADS OF
                                  TO CITIES, THOSE CITIES ARE                                                   TWO SIGNIFICANT TRENDS: URBANISATION
                                  EXPANDING EVER SKYWARDS.
                                  BUT THIS GENERATION OF
                                                                                                                AND CLIMATE CHANGE. CITIES ARE
                                  TOWERS WILL BE NOTHING                                                        RESPONDING BY REACHING FOR THE SKY.”
                                  LIKE THE LAST. WE EXPLORE                                                        DAVID COOPER, WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF
                                  FIVE OF THE KEY TRENDS
                                                                                                                       This high-rise boom is intimately
                                                                                                                    related to urbanisation. In 2014, more
                                                                                                                    than half of the world’s population lived in
                                                                                                                    urban areas, but by 2050, this is predicted
                                                                                                                    to rise to two-thirds, with 2.5 billion
                                                                                                                    new city dwellers – the equivalent of
                                                                                                                    constructing five cities the size of Beijing
                                                                                                                    every year until then. And with this growth
                                                                                                                    comes an increasing share of the global
                                                                                                                    economy: according to analyst McKinsey,
                                                                                                                    60% of global GDP is generated by the
                                                                                                                    top 600 cities.
                                                                                                                       “We are living at the crossroads of two
                                                                                                                    significant trends: urbanisation and climate
                                                                                                                    change,” says David Cooper, president of
                                                                                                                    buildings at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff.

                                                     OF TALL
                                                                                                                    “Cities are responding by reaching for the
                                                                                                                    sky, as a more sustainable forward path
                                                                                                                    than continuing horizontal expansion.”
                                                                                                                       With so many new urban dwellers
                                                                                                                    needing space to live and work, cities can
                                                                                                                    either grow outwards or upwards, and
                                                                                                                    they will inevitably have to do both. The
                                                                                                                    advantage of vertical expansion is that
                                                                                                                    it minimises the distances and travelling
                                                                                                                    times between homes, jobs and essential             The current boom is not just producing
                                                                                                                    amenities, and maximises the value of           taller versions of 20th-century towers, but
                                                                                                                    prime central sites.                            breaks with the past in several important
                                                                                                                                                                    ways. A striking difference is where
                                                                                                                       But that’s not the whole story. Tall         these new towers will be located. While
                                                                                                                    buildings also exert a powerful emotional       urbanisation is a global trend, 90% of new
                                                                                                                    force that familiarity seems to do little to    urban dwellers will be living in Africa and
                                                                                                                    diminish. Their sheer size in relation to the   Asia and more than a third in just three
                                                                                                                    human scale and the views they afford           countries: China, India and Nigeria. Since
                                                                                                                    from the top continue to inspire a sense        2000, China has built 43% of all the world’s
                                                                                                                    of awe and wonder. They are a show of
                                                     THE

                                                                                                                                                                    new towers. On the other hand, India and
                                                                                                                    strength, demonstrating mastery of the          Nigeria have barely started.
                                                                                                                    elements, wealth and power. Expanding
                                                                                                                    cities build landmarks to signal their              Then there’s the kind of towers being
                                                                                                                    ambition and communicate their arrival          built. Before 2000, two-thirds were
                                                                                                                    on the world stage. Established cities build    purely commercial. Since the turn of the
                                                                              he next golden age of                                                                 millennium, just under half have been
                                                                     T        skyscrapers is upon us. 2015
                                                                                                                    them not to be outdone.
                                                                                                                       The symbolic role of high-rise buildings
                                                                                                                                                                    apartments or hotels, and a further 19%
                                                                              was a record-breaking year                                                            mixed-use. Iconic architecture, high-
                                                                   for high-rise completions, with 338 new          was demonstrated in the hours after the         quality construction, pioneering structural
                                                                   buildings over 150m, but this will quickly       terrorist attacks on Paris in November          systems and state-of-the-art mechanical
                                                                   be beaten by the 342 expected in 2016.           2015. As the lights of the Eiffel Tower were    and electrical services are revolutionising
                                                                   The race is on to build high, with a frenzy      extinguished in mourning for the dead,          the concept of high-rise living. From
                                                                   equalling that of northern American cities       world cities lit up their own landmarks with    our homes to the public services we
                                                                   in the 1920s. Except that, this time, it’s on    the colours of the Tricolore. The Auckland      use, to where we spend our leisure time,
                                                                   a global scale. Between 1924 and 1934,           Sky Tower, One World Trade Center in            life is shifting from a predominantly
                                                                   49 buildings over 150m in height were            New York, the Oriental Pearl Tower in           horizontal plane to a much more vertical
                                                                   completed, all in the US. Between 2006           Shanghai and Calgary Tower in Canada            one. Over the following pages, we look
                                                                   and 2016, there will be a total of 2296, with    were among those glowing blue, white            at the features that will define the next
                                                                   new towers on every continent.                   and red.                                        generation of high-rise buildings.

04                                                                                                                                                                                                                  05
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES /// A WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF PUBLICATION
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES ///

                                                                                                                                                                             THE RENAISSANCE OF TALL ///
                                                                             “MILLENNIALS INCREASINGLY WANT
                                                                               A DENSE URBAN QUARTER WITH A REAL
                                                                               MIX OF USES – AREAS THAT ARE BUZZING
                                                                               AND ACTIVE AT ALL TIMES”
                                                                               ANDREW CANTOR, RELATED

                                                                             A city’s skyline is its signature. But it’s          This blurring won’t just be a lifestyle
                                                                             what happens at street level that defines         choice, it will be a necessity, he adds.
                                                                             its soul. Previous generations of towers          “As space becomes more and more
                                                                             were predominantly places to work. They           precious, shared amenities that have a
                                                                             were hives of activity by day, and dark and       higher utilisation will be more important,
                                                                             silent by night, set in downtown areas that       compared to lots of individual amenity
                                                                             became ghost towns after working hours            spaces or private spaces. Strategies
                                                                             and at weekends. The new tower is a far           that increase the utilisation of space
                                                                             more sociable place, buzzing well into the        will be important, whether that’s shared
                                                                             night, if not 24/7. It plays a more active        atrium spaces, hotel lobbies that serve as
                                                                             role in the local community, and perhaps          restaurants or office lobbies that serve as
                                                                             even functions as a community itself.             meeting areas.”
                                                                                High-rise buildings are increasingly              Older towers provided little at ground
                                                                             combining a mix of different kinds                level beyond hostile, high-security
                                                                             of space, at least some of it publicly            entrances and high winds. Today,
                                                                             accessible. The taller a building is, the more    planners are demanding much more,
                                                                             likely this is. According to the database of      and developers are increasingly aware
                                                                             the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban          of the value of a high-quality experience
                                                                             Habitats, 17% of buildings over 150m are          at ground level. Even pure commercial
                                                                             mixed-use. But this rises to nearly half of all   towers are likely to include some food
                                                                             super-tall towers over 300m, and three-           and beverage or retail space at their base.
                                                                             quarters over 500m.                               Or they may be just one component of a
                                                                                Mixed-use makes sense for economic             more varied development, as at Hudson
                                                                             reasons – there’s a lot of space to fill in a     Yards, linked by a shared plaza or publicly
                                                                             mega-tall tower and selling residential units     accessible podium.
                                                                             can help to finance the rentable elements            “In our rekindled love affair with
                                                                             – and also practical ones, because higher         skyscrapers and the city, we need to
                                                                             floorplates tend to be smaller and so less        think about the spaces and communities
                                                                             suited to commercial use.                         we’re creating at ground level,” says
                                                                                But it also makes sense because life in        Ken McBryde, principal at HASSELL
                                  24-HOUR

                                                                             cities is changing. The new generation            in Sydney. “The skyline of a city is
                                  TOWERS

                                                                             of workers are returning to urban areas,          predominantly an abstract thing – it exists
                                                                             rejecting suburban lifestyles in favour           in the digital or photographic realm but
                                                                             of vibrant neighbourhoods with a range            you never actually experience it unless
                                                                             of amenities. Millennials already make            you’re in a helicopter. We need to address
                                                                             up half of the US workforce, points out           the challenge of creating meaningful
                                                                             Andrew Cantor, vice president at Related,         and memorable public domain, as
                                                                             co-developer of the Hudson Yards                  that’s what will determine whether the
                                                                             regeneration scheme in New York. “By              building becomes an important social and
                                                                             the time that it’s complete, they’ll make         commercial asset to the city.”
                                            AS CITY LIFE CHANGES, TALL       up 75%. They’re looking for a mixed-
                                            BUILDINGS CAN’T JUST BE PLACES   use experience in their neighbourhood.
                                                                             Millennials increasingly want a dense urban
                                            TO WORK. THEY NEED TO BE PART    quarter with a real mix of uses – areas that
                                                                             are buzzing and active at all times, and
                                            OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD             where the lines between your office, your
                                                                             hotel, your restaurant or your residence
                                                                             are blurring.”

06                                                                                                                                                                            07
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES /// A WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF PUBLICATION
China Zun Tower, Beijing   A high-rise building not only changes             The ability to respond to fast-changing         One of the most significant challenges
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES ///

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     THE RENAISSANCE OF TALL //
                                                                           Image courtesy of KPF
                                                                                                     the skyline today, it also forms part of the   workplace trends is also key to maintaining     that all buildings will face in the relatively
                                                                                                     legacy that we leave to future generations.    the longer-term value of a building.            near future is the impact of climate
                                                                                                     Conventional real estate wisdom gives a        Technology is already removing the              change – a moving target as the century
                                                                                                     commercial building a lifespan of around       need for large support spaces, points out       progresses. How will buildings and their
                                                                                                     30 years. But the sheer scale of high-rise     Andrew Cantor, vice president at New            surroundings be affected by much heavier
                                                                                                     structures and the quantity of materials       York developer Related. “There will be          rainfall or more frequent droughts, what
                                                                                                     and energy that go into them means they        no need for large file rooms or storage         toll will more frequent extreme events
                                                                                                     will be around for much, much longer,          rooms as there has been in the past, and        take on structures and façades, and how
                                                                                                     with lifespans measured not in decades         even servers have diminished in size or         to maintain comfortable conditions
                                                                                                     but in generations.                            been moved off site into the cloud. So the      for building occupants when average
                                                                                                                                                    amount of space each person needs to            temperatures could be much higher
                                                                                                        Super-tall and super-slender buildings
                                                                                                                                                    work is smaller and there’ll be more people     than today? “The challenges that climate
                                                                                                     need to be extremely strong. Elements
                                                                                                                                                    on each floor, putting pressure on elevators    change will pose need to be considered in
                                                                                                     such as cladding or mechanical and
                                                                                                                                                    and washrooms.”                                 every building, but particularly those that
                                                                                                     electrical systems may be upgraded, but
                                                                                                                                                       The challenge is not just to size building   will be around for a long time,” says David
                                                                                                     their immense structures are effectively
                                                                                                                                                    systems for potentially greater loads but to    Symons, director of Environment & Energy
                                                                                                     permanent features of the urban
                                                                                                                                                    keep structural elements as unobtrusive as      at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff in the UK.
                                                                                                     landscape. In this way, today’s state-of-
                                                                                                                                                    possible, with no columns on the floorplates    “In 50 years, peak summer temperatures
                                                                                                     the-art towers have more in common with
                                                                                                                                                    and floor-to-ceiling windows so that spaces     in London are forecast to be 6.5°C higher
                                                                                                     medieval cathedrals than with their low-rise
                                                                                                                                                    can be reconfigured any way a tenant            than they are today. By 2100, they could be
                                                                                                     contemporaries. “In the history of the
                                                                                                                                                    wants. The same goes for residential towers     around 10.5°C higher. Our research shows
                                                                                                     world, only four buildings taller than 150m
                                                                                                                                                    – internal columns interrupt views and limit    that today’s building design codes are
                                                                                                     have ever been demolished,” says Bill Price,
                                                                                                                                                    buyers’ options.                                wholly inadequate to address these future
                                                                                                     director at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff in
                                                                                                                                                                                                    temperatures. Over 80% of Londoners
                                                                                                     London. “For a large building in an urban         The economic challenges of mega-tall
                                                                                                                                                                                                    already claim their flats are too hot in
                                                                                                     setting, studies show that it will cost more   towers mean that they may sometimes
                                                                                                                                                                                                            summer, with newer homes having
                                                                                                                                                                                                            more of a problem.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                To address hotter temperatures,
                                                                                                                                                                                                            mechanical and electrical engineers
                                                                                                     “IN 50 YEARS, PEAK SUMMER TEMPERATURES                                                                could just design larger cooling
                                                                                                                                                                                                            systems. “But that will create massive

                                                                                                       IN LONDON ARE PREDICTED TO BE 6.5°C                                                                  extra energy demand – for cities
                                                                                                                                                                                                            and for building owners. That’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                            challenging when energy prices are
                                                                                                       HIGHER THAN THEY ARE TODAY. BY 2100,                                                                 forecast to be about 30% higher in
                                                                                                                                                                                                            the UK by 2030. So energy bills will
                                                                                                       THEY COULD BE AROUND 10.5°C HIGHER”                                                                  be much higher too.” The alternative
                                                                                                                                                                                                            is to use emerging techniques
                                                                                                       DAVID SYMONS, WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF                                                             that use fresh air from outside and
                                                                                                                                                                                                            the thermal mass of buildings to
                                                                                                                                                                                                            maintain comfortable temperatures.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            “That becomes even more of an
                                                                                                     and take longer to take it down than it did    undergo drastic changes of use even when        option in a future world which is anticipated
                                                                                                     to put it up. That means that when we’re       the design is well advanced – keeping           to be purely electric. By 2050, some cities
                                                                                                     designing and constructing a tall building,    building systems engineers on their toes.       will be all electric for heating, for power,
                                                                                                     we need to remember that it’s essentially      Now under construction, 528m China              for travel. At a stroke, that transforms
                                                                                                     going to be there forever.”                    Zun Tower in Beijing was originally             air quality and reduces noise levels.” In
                                                                                                                                                    planned as a mixed-use development              temperate climates today, windows remain
                                                                                                        Price suggests that designers should
                                                                                                                                                    providing 380,000m2 of offices, hotel           shut against the noise and pollution of city
                                                                                                     think more carefully about how a building
                                  FUTURE

                                                                                                                                                    accommodation and serviced apartments.          streets, and because buildings are designed
                                                                                                     might eventually be demolished from
                                                                                                                                                    The biggest challenge for the services          to rely on air conditioning systems. “But
                                                                                                     the start. But more immediately, they
                                  READY

                                                                                                                                                    engineers was always reconciling the unique     why would you do that into the future? You
                                                                                                     need to make sure towers can adapt to
                                                                                                                                                    form of the building – flared at the base       could imagine a world in which there’s no
                                                                                                     change, and consider a range of interlinked
                                                                                                                                                    and the top – with the demand for services      reason not to open the windows.”
                                                                                                     technological, social and environmental
                                                                                                     factors that will impact on the built          and vertical transportation created by its         Driverless cars promise to change
                                                                                                     environment.                                   mix of uses. Then the decision was taken to     patterns of land use in cities too: “At the
                                           STRUCTURES AND SERVICES OF                                   There are good commercial reasons
                                                                                                                                                    convert the whole building to commercial        moment, quite large amounts of valuable
                                                                                                                                                    space. “This dramatically increased vertical    space are given over to car parking,” says
                                           SUPER-TALL BUILDINGS MUST BE                              for designing flexible spaces too. Office
                                                                                                                                                    transportation requirements, but the            Symons. “In the future, at the very least
                                                                                                     buildings need to be able to accommodate
                                           ABLE TO ADAPT TO CHANGING                                 different occupier groups to make them as
                                                                                                                                                    construction was already fixed, so it wasn’t
                                                                                                                                                    possible to make any changes to the
                                                                                                                                                                                                    you could have much tighter parking
                                                                                                                                                                                                    spaces because the cars park themselves.
                                           USES, AND A CHANGING PLANET                               lettable as possible. Because corporates
                                                                                                     are increasingly seeking more locations
                                                                                                                                                    available space in the core,” says Vincent      At best, you don’t have car parking at all
                                                                                                                                                    Tse, managing director of building systems      in the building – if you do drive yourself
                                                                                                     that offer more diverse experience for
                                                                                                                                                    for WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff in China.        to your tall building, the car then goes
                                                                                                     their workers, they need to attract novelty-
                                                                                                                                                    “Our solution was to add more sky lobbies,      off and parks itself on some cheap land
                                                                                                     seeking millennials and to spur cross-
                                                                                                                                                    so there are now three double-decks             somewhere else and comes to you
                                                                                                     disciplinary thinking and innovation.
                                                                                                                                                    spaced throughout the building.”                when you need it.”

08                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    09
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES /// A WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF PUBLICATION
school and public space
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES ///

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          THE RENAISSANCE OF TALL ///
                                                                                                                                                                                                           and no fewer than 16
                                                                                                                                                                                                           skyscrapers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              “When you provide
                                                                                                                                                                                                           mass transit access to a
                                                                                                                                                                                                           neighbourhood, it spurs
                                                                                  “I THINK THERE ARE SOME VERY BRIGHT DAYS                                                                                tremendous development
                                                                                                                                                                                                           opportunities,” says
                                                                                    IN FRONT OF US IN TERMS OF HOW CITIES ARE                                                                              Kelly. “The absence of
                                                                                                                                                                                                           access really limited
                                                                                    BEING PLANNED AND DEVELOPED, ACROSS                                                                                    that neighbourhood for
                                                                                                                                                                                                           a very long time. After
                                                                                    THE US AND AROUND THE WORLD”                                                                                           the decision was made
                                                                                                                                                                                                           to extend the subway,
                                                                                                                                                                                                           development naturally
                                                                                    GREG KELLY, PRESIDENT & CEO, WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF
                                                                                                                                                                                                           followed.” WSP | Parsons
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Brinckerhoff is also
                                                                                                                                                                                                           involved in similar railyard
                                                                                                                                                                                                           projects elsewhere, such
                                                                                                                                                                                                           as the 22-acre Atlantic
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Yards site in Brooklyn, now
                                                                                  Traffic congestion and pollution were                     In many places, towers are being                               renamed Pacific Park, and
                                                                                  almost defining characteristics of the                deliberately sited on top of or next            another project in Boston.
                                                                                  20th-century city. Urbanisation has been              to existing transport hubs, he notes,               For best results, the interfaces between
                                                                                  traditionally accompanied by an increase              while investment in new infrastructure          infrastructure and buildings are considered
                                                                                  in car travel, choking roads and bringing             is creating opportunities for high-rise         at the earliest possible stage, says Kelly.
                                                                                  movement to a near halt for significant               development. London’s Shard is right next       “That’s vitally important. Obviously you
                                                                                  portions of the day. The most valuable                to a major interchange for overground           don’t want to preclude future options to
                                                                                  development sites were ones that could                and underground trains and buses, while         maximise the overbuild that could occur
                                                                                  be easily reached by car from the suburbs             San Francisco’s future tallest building, the    over a subway station, but it’s also about
                                                                                  and had ample room for parking.                       326m Salesforce Tower, will be part of the      creating successful communities. You
                                                                                     As more and more people move to                    new Transbay Transit Center complex. This       have to look at the pedestrian flows, how
                                                                                  cities, the challenge of mobility is only             includes more than 6 million ft2 of office      the traffic interacts with the pedestrians
                                                                                  becoming more acute. UN HABITAT                       space, 4,400 homes, a hotel and retail          and how that knits together with the
                                                                                  estimates that by 2050, city dwellers                 space, as well as a 5.4-acre rooftop park.      high-rise development. The sooner you
                                                                                  could travel three or four times as many                  Developers are also looking afresh          can bring those two together, the more
                                                                                  passenger-kilometres as in the year                   at previously unappealing sites close to        efficiently you will be able to incorporate
                                                                                  2000, and that freight movement could                 transport hubs. Areas that were once            both parts of the development and the
                                                                                  rise more than threefold over the same                blighted by their proximity to rail lines or    better the outcome will be. With little or no
                                                                                  period. Without investment in sustainable             left as underused expanses of industrial        additional cost you can enhance what that
                                                                                  alternatives to cars, the places where three-         space are now prime opportunities for           neighbourhood looks like.”
                                  CONNECTED

                                                                                  quarters of the world’s population live, work         high-rise development. They are able                The integration of transport and high-
                                                                                  and play will simply be unable to function.           to support sustainable high-density             density development is good news not
                                                                                     “Higher-density cities won’t work                  development, and the potential returns          only for those components but for the
                                                                                  without investment in transport,” says Peter          from building tall mean that overcoming         success of cities themselves, believes Kelly.
                                                                                  Weingarten, principal at Gensler. “As the             the challenges of such sites becomes an         “I think the industry is getting very smart
                                                                                  world is getting flatter and there’s a war            economically viable proposition.                at how we plan cities. It goes beyond the
                                                                                  for talent, people will migrate like they’ve              “These transport nodes do present           transit infrastructure. We’re looking also at
                                                                                  never migrated before. Cities that don’t              technical challenges, because you have          how we plan the environment, at how we
                                                                                  have good infrastructure will lose out to             to keep a railroad running while you’re         power cities, I think there are some very
                                                                                  places that do.”                                      building around it,” says Kelly. “That takes    bright days in front of us in terms of how
                                                                                     One of the major themes of 21st-century            time and may involve additional cost, but       cities are being planned and developed,
                                                                                  urbanisation will be investment in systems            by being in that location, there’s a greater    across the US and around the world.”
                                                                                  such as metros, light rail and bus rapid              long-term value that’s created. People may
                                                                                  transit, as city planners search for more             have been a little bit reluctant in the past,
                                                                                  sustainable ways to support growth. The               but I think they now truly see the value of
                                                                                  population of a super or mega-tall tower              it and they’re moving forwards with these
                                              THE DENSE FABRIC OF 21st-CENTURY    can easily rival that of a small city in itself, so   types of project.”
                                                                                  it needs to be integrated closely into these              This is the story of the US’s largest
                                              CITIES MEANS THAT TOWERS NEED TO    networks. “Mass transit links are critical to         ever real estate project, now underway at
                                              BE CLOSELY INTEGRATED INTO PUBLIC   successful high-rise development,” says
                                                                                  Greg Kelly, president and CEO of WSP |
                                                                                                                                        Hudson Yards in New York. The extension
                                                                                                                                        of the subway to the western edge of
                                              TRANSPORT NETWORKS                  Parsons Brinckerhoff in the US, Central &             Manhattan has suddenly opened up the
                                                                                  South America..                                       development potential of a neglected
                                                                                                                                        industrial site. Over the next ten years,
                                                                                                                                        it is set to become a 28-acre mixed use
                                                                                                                                        development of office, residential, retail,

 10                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            11
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES /// A WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF PUBLICATION
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES ///

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         THE RENAISSANCE OF TALL ///
                                  The Shard, London                                                                                                      Halvorson says this has partly been             Many more towers also combine a mix
                                                                                                                                                      driven by advances in building core             of uses, which is giving rise to innovative
                                                                                                                                                      construction, specifically mechanisation        hybrid structures. London’s Shard, for
                                                                                                                                                      which reduced the amount of labour              example, features a highly unusual
                                                                                                                                                      involved and made concrete or composite         combination of both steel and concrete
                                                                                                                                                      structures more economical than pure            floors around a concrete core. The first 40
                                                                                                                                                      steel. “But an even more important driver       storeys are offices, supported by steelwork
                                                                                                                                                      is that architects, owners and occupiers        spanning from the core with steel columns.
                                                                                                      The typical 20th-century skyscraper was         wanted more glass and more windows              As the floorplates shrink, the use switches
                                                                                                      most likely to be an office, and probably       without those big structural obstructions       to hotel and luxury apartments and the
                                                                                                      built out of steel. It’s much harder to         on the perimeter.” A concrete core              frame to post-tensioned concrete, before
                                                                                                      characterise the 21st-century model.            provides a strong but discreet backbone         reverting to steel for the spire. Using
                                                                                                      Encompassing a diverse range of uses            for the building, while protecting essential    concrete for the middle section enabled
                                                                                                      and a multitude of unusual shapes, every        services and means of egress and                the addition of two extra storeys within the
                                                                                                      one of today’s towers is a prototype,           concealing key structural elements such as      overall height.
                                                                                                      demanding constant innovation.                  outriggers on plant floors.
                                                                                                      Structures need to perform better than                                                             In New York’s new super-slender
                                                                                                      ever before, but also be less obtrusive.           Halvorson thinks hybrid structures will      residences, high-strength concrete cores
                                                                                                      The structural engineering of skyscrapers       continue to evolve, as engineers keep           and frames maximise strength without
                                                                                                      was a source of pride and wonder in             up with the computer-aided ingenuity            restricting internal layouts or blocking
                                                                                                      the early 20th century, proudly flaunted        of an ever more ambitious architectural         views. But for the most extreme aspect
                                                                                                      on steel column façades. Now the                profession. “If you look back to the 1980s or   ratios, strength alone is not enough.
                                                                                                      engineer’s greatest feat is to keep well        earlier, buildings were rectangular and they    Engineers cannot keep adding structure
                                                                                                      out of sight, creating super-strong             were largely prismatic – they were constant     indefinitely – they have to think laterally.
                                                                                                      structures that betray no trace of the          from top to bottom or they had a constant          A key innovation of recent years is the
                                                                                                      massive forces at play.                         slope or regular setbacks. Geometries were      use of dampers, which function in a similar
                                                                                                                                                      very simple. Now we’re trying to develop        way to the shock absorbers on a car to
                                                                                                         This requirement for hidden strength         structural concepts for buildings that taper
                                                                                                      has contributed to a radical shift in what                                                      help buildings perform better under wind
                                                                                                                                                      and slope, that have 3D curved or irregular     and seismic events. “We used to design
                                                                                                      towers are constructed from, says Bob           surfaces, or large openings through them.
                                                                                                      Halvorson, executive vice president                                                             structures that were basically passive,” says
                                                                                                                                                      The biggest challenge we have is adapting       Halvorson. “Today there are a lot more
                                                                                                      at Halvorson and Partners. In 1984,             structural tools to more creative, taller and
                                                                                                      Halvorson wrote a paper on the structural                                                       options open to the engineer for ‘active’
                                                                                                                                                      thinner architecture.”                          buildings with dynamic elements that
                                                                                                      solutions most commonly used for tall
                                                                                                      buildings. “If you looked at all the tall          Another major factor in the shift            modify their behaviour in positive ways.”
                                                                                                      buildings up to that point, particularly        from steel to concrete is the increasing           As towers get taller and thinner, the
                                                                                                      office buildings, they were structural steel.   proportion of towers designed wholly or         biggest challenge for the engineer is
                                                                                                      They’d have either diagonal bracing or          partly for residential use. Concrete is the     not making them sufficiently strong and
                                                                                                      closely spaced columns and a moment             natural choice for apartment buildings,         resilient, but cost-effective, says Silvian
                                                                                                      frame round the perimeter, and that             because it offers better acoustic and           Marcus, director of building structures,
                                                                                                      seemed to be the way of the future.” But        fire separation between apartments and          WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff in New York:
                                                                                                      when he repeated the exercise 20 years          enables shorter floor-to-floor heights          “Any engineer can design a structure that
                                       STRUCTURES

                                                                                                      later, the world had completely changed.        so developers can fit more storeys              will stand. The brilliant part is to do it in an
                                                                                                      “The tallest buildings were either concrete     within a constrained building envelope.         efficient way.”
                                                                                                      or of composite construction using both         “Apartments are always going to be
                                                                                                      steel and concrete, and the structural          concrete-framed,” says Mark Hennessy,
                                                                                                      systems had almost universally switched         director of structures at WSP | Parsons
                                                                                                      from the perimeter of the building to           Brinckerhoff in Melbourne. “Floor-to-floor
                                                                                                      structures hidden in the core.”                 heights can be pretty lean and mean,
                                                                                                                                                      whereas steel just doesn’t work from that
                                                                                                                                                      point of view.”
                                       HYBRID

                                                                                                      “NOW WE’RE TRYING TO DEVELOP
                                                      TODAY’S SKYSCRAPERS NEED TO BE STRONGER THAN      STRUCTURAL CONCEPTS FOR BUILDINGS
                                                      EVER BEFORE – AND WHILE THEIR ARCHITECTURE IS     THAT TAPER AND SLOPE, THAT HAVE 3D
                                                      INCREASINGLY STRIKING, THE STRUCTURES             CURVED SURFACES, OR LARGE OPENINGS
                                                      THEMSELVES MUST BE CLOSE TO INVISIBLE
                                                                                                        IN AND THROUGH THEM”
                                                                                                        BOB HALVORSON, HALVORSON AND PARTNERS

  12                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         13
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES /// A WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF PUBLICATION
Salesforce Tower, San Francisco
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES ///

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   THE RENAISSANCE OF TALL ///
                                                                                      Image courtesy of Hines    In tomorrow’s denser cities, people will            There is also a powerful business               Maximising fresh air in office spaces
                                                                                                                 spend a much greater proportion of              case for better environments that can            also requires a different approach to the
                                                                                                                 their lives in tall buildings. But having a     boost workers’ productivity – staff costs        façade – as a permeable skin rather than
                                                                                                                 connection to the outside will be more          can account for as much as 90% of a              an impenetrable barrier. Simply opening
                                                                                                                 important than ever. Traditional office         company’s outgoings, so even a small             the windows is not an effective ventilation
                                                                                                                 towers are sealed against the elements          improvement can make a big difference.           strategy for buildings with deep floorplates,
                                                                                                                 and use building systems to create a            Studies have found that office workers           says Nick Offer, director at WSP | Parsons
                                                                                                                 comfortable environment, but the next           with a window seat sleep an average              Brinckerhoff in London – the air current
                                                                                                                 generation will be far more permeable,          of 46 minutes longer per night and               will either be too strong by the windows or
                                                                                                                 a trend driven by both employers and            that doubling the supply of outdoor              too weak further in. “What we need is an
                                                                                                                 workers themselves.                             air to an office reduces short-term sick         equivalent to openable windows, without
                                                                                                                     “One of the most important things we        leave by 35%. In 2014, the World Green           actually opening them. We need to link the
                                                                                                                 can do as buildings get taller and higher       Building Council brought a growing               building to the façade, floor by floor. Then
                                                                                                                 and further from the ground is let the          body of evidence together in a landmark          we can channel air in through the façade,
                                                                                                                 occupants keep in touch with the outside,       publication called ‘Health, Wellbeing &          into rooms on each floor, and then push
                                                                                                                 so they can understand what time of day         Productivity in Offices, the next chapter        that fresh air through the floors or ceilings
                                                                                                                 it is and what’s it like before going out,      for green building’, which received              to service the space.”
                                                                                                                 says Ken McBryde, principal at HASSELL          enthusiastic backing from industry clients          The Salesforce Tower in San Francisco
                                                                                                                 in Sydney. “That’s a real challenge in tall     including Tishman Speyer, British Land and       will be ventilated with outdoor air for
                                                                                                                 buildings, because if you can’t open the        Grosvenor.                                       80% of the time, supplied from under
                                                                                                                 windows, you really lose touch with the             There’s even a new certification, the        the floor. It has been pre-certified LEED
                                                                                                                 environment.”                                   WELL Building Standard, which focuses            Platinum, making it one of the world’s most
                                                                                                                     Quality of life has taken on much           exclusively on human health and wellbeing.       sustainable tall buildings. In temperate
                                                                                                                 greater importance among the millennial         In March 2015, the developers of 425 Park        climates, using outside air also reduces
                                                                                                                 generation – and as they spend so much          Avenue committed to build New York’s             the energy that a tower consumes, which
                                                                                                                 time in the office, that means quality          first WELL-certified office tower. Cooper        will make it an increasingly appealing
                                                                                                                 of the working environment. “It’s becoming      says that clients have begun to ask              strategy as energy costs rise in the future
                                                                                                                 about much more than temperature,”              about the standard, and a couple have            and targets on carbon emissions become
                                                                                                                 says David Cooper, president of the             requested that their buildings comply,           tougher. In most parts of the world, it is
                                                                                                                 US buildings division at WSP | Parsons          but it’s still some way from achieving           possible to completely ventilate a building
                                                                                                                 Brinckerhoff. “It’s about total environmental   widespread adoption.                             using external air for 70-80% of the year,
                                                                                                                 comfort – access to natural light, glare            In a tall building with a huge population,   says Offer. “There is a great future in
                                                                                                                 control, air motion and humidity, the           creating a healthy environment starts            thinking differently about how we design
                                                                                                                 freshness and quality of the air. This is       with the building envelope. “The envelope        true low-energy buildings.”
                                                                                                                 absolutely, increasingly important to a         is the critical juncture for thermal                Introducing higher levels of fresh air
                                                                                                                 successful occupancy.”                          performance, access to daylight and views,       makes denser working environments
                                                                                                                                                                 glare control, and all of those things really    possible – typical occupation densities
                                                                                                                                                                 affect comfort,” says Cooper. “There             have fallen from 10m2 per person to 8m2.
                                                                                                                                                                 are many opportunities, depending on             “Because of changes in screen and lighting
                                                                                                                                                                 the climate – dynamic façades, operable          technology, we are able to squash up
                                                                                                                                                                 façades, triple-wall façades, dynamic and        and people accept it because they like
                                                                                                                                                                 static shading. That’s where engineering         collaborating and working together,” says
                                                                                                                                                                 and architecture meet.”                          Offer. “But they also need access to other
                                  PERMEABLE

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  types of great space, so they can break
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  away from their desks and meet other
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  people or find a quiet place to work. It’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  about the building giving something back
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  other than office space.” Green spaces
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  make vertical cities much more pleasant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  places to be, just as they do horizontal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ones: Shanghai Tower, China’s tallest
                                  SPACES

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  building at 632m and one of its greenest,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  has winter gardens at the edge of every
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  floor, open spaces with trees and planters.

                                                                                                                 “IT’S ABOUT MUCH MORE THAN                                                                         From a developer’s point of view, this is a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  significant space sacrifice, which is why the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  most advanced buildings are typically one-
                                              AS PEOPLE SPEND MORE TIME FURTHER FROM                               TEMPERATURE. IT’S ABOUT ACCESS TO                                                              off landmarks or constructed for owner-
                                              THE GROUND, ENVIRONMENTAL COMFORT                                                                                                                                   occupiers, says Cooper. “Most innovation

                                              IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER. THAT MEANS                              NATURAL LIGHT, GLARE CONTROL, AIR                                                              happens in owner-occupied buildings,” he
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  says. “But then it catches on and becomes
                                              BRINGING THE OUTDOORS IN                                             MOTION AND HUMIDITY, THE FRESHNESS                                                             something that other tenants are looking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  for because they see the advantages, and
                                                                                                                   AND QUALITY OF THE AIR”                                                                        developers follow suit.”

                                                                                                                  DAVID COOPER, WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF

  14                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   15
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES /// A WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF PUBLICATION
THE SKY
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES ///

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     THE SKY AND OTHER LIMITS ///
                                                                                                  very week,
                                                                                        E         1 million people       “IT’S A FANTASTIC CHALLENGE, LIKE RACING A

                                   AND OTHER
                                                                                                  move to cities – if
                                                                                      all of that growth happened
                                                                                      in one place, it would create
                                                                                                                           12m YACHT. YOU’RE ALWAYS TRYING TO UNDERSTAND
                                                                                      a new city the size of Dublin,
                                                                                      New Orleans or Adelaide.
                                                                                                                           THE RULES AND WHAT THE POSSIBILITIES ARE.”
                                                                                      But in reality, a considerable       DAVID PENICK, HINES

                                   LIMITS
                                                                                      proportion of these new city
                                                                                      dwellers will be looking for
                                                                                      space to live, work and play          For developers, the                  Penick welcomes the                  In New York, getting a
                                                                                      in places that have been           challenge is to carve out viable    complexity that the city’s           project off the ground is not
                                                                                      established for hundreds           schemes from a constantly           detailed planning guidelines         just about finding the right
                                                                                      or thousands of years. The         diminishing supply of land.         bring. “An exciting thing about      site – the vertical space above
                                                                                      densification of historic          New towers must be woven            developing in New York is that       it is just as sought-after. To
                                                                                      cityscapes will be one of          into an already complex             there is a great set of rules.       make 53W53 possible, Hines
                                                                                      the defining challenges            tapestry of existing buildings,     It’s not a matter of going to        also had to negotiate the
                                                                                      of the 21st century.               much-loved landmarks, public        City Hall and saying ‘Gee,           transfer of air rights from
                                                                                                                         spaces and transport and utility    I wish I could do this’. Every       neighbouring buildings that
                                  IN ESTABLISHED CITIES, NEW TOWERS ARE NEVER BUILT      For city planners, the
                                                                                                                         networks. If buildings define       neighbourhood is precisely           had not consumed their full
                                                                                      challenge is one of balancing
                                  IN ISOLATION – THEY ARE INTIMATELY SHAPED BY THE    the interests of many different
                                                                                                                         a city, they are themselves
                                                                                                                         shaped by all of the forces in
                                                                                                                                                             zoned, and for each plot, it says
                                                                                                                                                             how big the building can be
                                                                                                                                                                                                  entitlement, says Penick.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Then there are other air rights
                                                                                      stakeholders, enabling cities to
                                  BUILDINGS AND SPACES AROUND THEM. DEVELOPMENT       thrive and grow without losing
                                                                                                                         that city.                          and what its use can be. It’s a      transfers within the project to
                                                                                                                                                             fantastic challenge, like racing a   allow for the intended uses to
                                  IS A COMPLEX JIGSAW OF ZONING RULES, VIEWING        what makes each one unique.           The profusion of sculpted,
                                                                                                                         chiselled or staggered forms        12m yacht. You’re always trying      occur at their correct locations
                                                                                      In a fully globalised economy
                                  CORRIDORS AND AIR RIGHTS. BUT IT’S A CHALLENGE      where skills, jobs and capital     now cropping up in established      to understand the rules and
                                                                                                                                                             what the possibilities are, and
                                                                                                                                                                                                  within the building. It’s a very
                                                                                                                                                                                                  demanding process.”
                                                                                                                         urban cores is not only an
                                  THAT DESIGNERS ARE MEETING HEAD ON                  are increasingly footloose,
                                                                                      the fiercest competition for       expression of the whims of          then someone comes up with a             The plans also had to be
                                                                                                                         architects or the quest to create   clever new idea that everyone        signed off by a number of
                                                                                      resources is being fought
                                                                                                                         ‘iconic’ landmarks. It’s also       learns from.”                        parties including the Museum
                                                                                      not between countries but
                                                                                      between rival cities. High-rise    because in the most congested           One of the most striking         of Modern Art, which will
                                                                                      buildings play an important role   cities, attempts by city planners   features of 53W53 is its high        occupy the lower floors, the
                                                                                      not only in accommodating          to protect rights to light or       height-to-width ratio – a            Landmarks Preservation
                                                                                      newcomers but in attracting        signature views often impose        feature of many new towers in        Commission and the NYC
                                                                                      them in the first place –          very restricted, contorted          Midtown. As developers seek          Transit Authority because of
                                                                                      expressing a city’s personality    envelopes into which buildings      to achieve the greatest possible     the nearby subway tunnels.
                                                                                      and marking it firmly on the       must fit.                           value from very narrow, yet          The project will be occupied
                                                                                      map as a destination for talent       It didn’t take New York          very expensive plots, advances       in 2018, 11 years after Hines
                                                                                      and investment.                    planners long to notice that        in structural engineering are        originally purchased the land.
                                                                                                                         its new skyscrapers were            enabling increasingly slender            New York is already
                                                                                                                         overshadowing the streets           forms. But 53W53 also lies in        renowned as a skyscraper
                                                                                                                         below and to restrict building      three different zoning districts,    city, but London is only now
                                                                                                                         massing at certain heights,         each with its own permitted          becoming one. Around 70
                                                                                                                         at a stroke prompting the           densities and shapes. Architect      buildings above 20 storeys
                                                                                                                         distinctive setbacks of many of     Jean Nouvel’s design is an           are under construction, and
                                                                                                                         the city’s Art Deco landmarks       elegant solution to a complex        almost 200 more have been
                                                                                                                         from the 1920s and 30s.             geometrical problem, with            proposed. But even while some
                                                                                                                         Since then, as approaches to        different parts of the building      Londoners may feel uneasy at
                                                                                                                         planning have become more           tapering at different angles         what seems like untrammelled
                                                                                                                         sophisticated, the challenge for    as it rises from 53rd and 54th       development, there is a well-
                                                                                                                         developers has only become          Streets.                             defined set of rules governing
                                                                                                                         more complex. “Government                                                the placement and form of
                                                                                                                         approvals are a huge piece of                                            towers, intended to preserve
                                                                                                                         what we do,” says David Penick,                                          views of the city’s landmarks
                                                                                                                         managing director of Hines,                                              from surrounding public
                                                                                                                         developer with Goldman Sachs                                             spaces. As these new towers
                                                                                                                         and Pontiac Land Group of                                                take shape, London’s planning
                                                                                                                         the super-tall 53W53 tower                                               rules are being writ large on
                                                                                                                         above New York’s Museum                                                  the skyline.
                                                                                                                         of Modern Art. “To create
                                                                                                                         a project like this, we spend
                                                                                                                         a tremendous amount of
                                                                                                                         time getting everything in
                                                                                                                         place so we can proceed with
                                                                                                                         construction.”

  16                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     17
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES /// A WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF PUBLICATION
“DEVELOPING IN LONDON IS QUITE
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES ///

                                                                         THE SKY AND OTHER LIMITS ///
                                    A CHALLENGE BECAUSE THERE’S A
                                    VERY HISTORIC STREET PATTERN AND
                                    BLOCK SIZE, AND A LOT OF PROTECTED
                                    VIEWS. IN THE RECENT PAST, A LOT
                                    OF BUILDINGS HAVE BEEN SHAPED TO
                                    DEAL WITH THOSE CONSTRAINTS”
                                   GEOFF HARRIS, TH REAL ESTATE

  18                                                                        19
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES ///

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    THE SKY AND OTHER LIMITS ///
                                                                                                                        The protected view of            architecture to be defined by
                                                                                                                     St Paul’s Cathedral from Fleet      this requirement. Our focus
                                                                                                                     Street is one of the biggest        was on creating a group of
                                                                                                                     reasons why the 220m-high           simple, well-proportioned
                                                                                                                     Leadenhall Building tapers          elements which work on the
                                                                                                                     at a 10° angle, earning it the      skyline. The Fleet Street view
                                                                                                                     nickname ‘the Cheesegrater’         requirement was handled
                                                                                                                     and why its future neighbour        by working a set of terraced
                                  A model showing the available envelope in which 40 Leadenhall Street had to sit.
                                                                                                                     at 52 Lime Street, ‘The             set-backs into the overall
                                  Below is Make Architect’s terraced design                                          Scalpel’, leans back in the         composition, which also
                                                                                                                     opposite direction. In this way,    enhance the workplace with
                                                                                                                     both remain hidden behind           external amenity spaces.”
                                                                                                                     the cathedral dome. This               There is a long history of
                                                                                                                     same view was also a key            city dwellers giving irreverent
                                                                                                                     consideration in the design         nicknames to new buildings.
                                                                                                                     of 40 Leadenhall Street, a          Now with an array of irregular
                                                                                                                     910,000ft2 development of           forms rising above their
                                                                                                                     between seven and 34 storeys        hoardings and a constant
                                                                                                                     that sits to the east of The        stream of proposed towers
                                                                                                                     Scalpel.                            coming to market, Londoners
                                                                                                                        But here, developer TH           have gone into overdrive.
                                                                                                                     Real Estate wanted to take a        Within minutes of a building’s
                                                                                                                     different approach, as head         launch, there will be a heated
                                                                                                                     of development Geoff Harris         competition on social media to
                                                                                                                     explains: “Developing in            coin an appropriate name.                                                                                                                                            The Toronto skyline
                                                                                                                     London is quite a challenge            In future, London’s towers
                                                                                                                     because there’s a very historic     may be less easy to name as
                                                                                                                     street pattern and block size,      architects and developers take
                                                                                                                     and a lot of protected views.       a more understated approach.
                                                                                                                     In the recent past, a lot of        Gwyn Richards, the City of
                                                                                                                     buildings have been shaped          London Corporation’s head
                                                                                                                     to deal with those constraints.     of design, said in a recent
                                                                                                                     We were looking for a building
                                                                                                                     that is beautiful, unique and
                                                                                                                     distinctive in its form, that
                                                                                                                                                         interview that he wanted to
                                                                                                                                                         see “less iconic buildings, less         “IS EVERY BUILDING SUPPOSED TO BE AN
                                                                                                                     takes us back to 20th-century
                                                                                                                     US tower design – a building
                                                                                                                                                         provocative buildings, fewer
                                                                                                                                                         buildings which might have
                                                                                                                                                         nicknames”.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    EXUBERANT TOP OR SHOULD SOME BE
                                                                                                                     that expresses its verticality,
                                                                                                                     mixes solid and clear and
                                                                                                                                                            But that hasn’t saved
                                                                                                                                                         40 Leadenhall Street from
                                                                                                                                                                                                    MORE CONSERVATIVE? ”
                                                                                                                     uses terracing.”                                                               JAMES PARAKH, CITY OF TORONTO PLANNING DIVISION
                                                                                                                                                         becoming known as “Gotham
                                                                                                                        Working with Make                City”, a name originally coined
                                                                                                                     Architects, Harris’ team            by Richards’ predecessor Peter
                                                                                                                     completed 58 separate design        Rees. Harris says he doesn’t
                                                                                                                     studies, modelling all the          mind. “Actually, I quite like it. It’s
                                                                                                                     constraints in 3D to produce an                                                Developers themselves              the UK. “They’re more blasé.       Toronto Planning Division.          San Francisco has the Golden
                                                                                                                                                         interesting because we were
                                                                                                                     envelope in which the building                                               may now come to market               In London, it’s a relatively new      “We think very hard about        Gate Bridge and the bay. Hong
                                                                                                                                                         aiming for that 20th-century
                                                                                                                     had to sit. But rather than                                                  with a brand already formed,         phenomenon but in time the         the role of each tall building      Kong has Two International
                                                                                                                                                         US architecture and that has
                                                                                                                     shaping the building to fill that                                            as WRBC has done for The             novelty will wear off here too.”   on the skyline,” he says. “That’s   Financial Centre, Victoria
                                                                                                                                                         come through. But we won’t be
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Scalpel. This is partly a way of                                                                            Harbour and The Peak in the
                                  “WE ENDED UP WITH A                                                               space, they considered it from
                                                                                                                     the inside out, looking at how
                                                                                                                     form could follow function.
                                                                                                                                                         writing ‘Gotham City’ on our
                                                                                                                                                         hoardings.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                  heading off any less flattering
                                                                                                                                                                                                  suggestions. But naming these
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Few cities are densifying
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       as rapidly as Toronto, which
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       has more than double the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          really important. Is every
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          building supposed to be
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          an exuberant top or should
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              background. Rio de Janeiro is
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              instantly recognisable for its
                                    TERRACED BUILDING THAT                                                           “We ended up with a terraced
                                                                                                                     building that is arranged in
                                                                                                                                                            Sometimes a building’s
                                                                                                                                                         owners may adopt a
                                                                                                                                                                                                  giant buildings also makes
                                                                                                                                                                                                  them relevant on a human
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       number of high-rise buildings
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       under construction than New
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          some be more conservative?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Not every building can be a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              statue of Christ the Redeemer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              and Sugarloaf Mountain.
                                    IS ARRANGED IN SLICES.                                                           slices,” he says. “It deals with
                                                                                                                     all the constraints, but it’s
                                                                                                                                                         nickname officially, as Sellar
                                                                                                                                                         Property Group did at The
                                                                                                                                                                                                  scale, and somehow less
                                                                                                                                                                                                  threatening.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       York, with as many as 180
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       tower cranes complementing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          landmark.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Parakh has noticed some
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Toronto’s official plan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              identifies centres in which
                                    IT DEALS WITH ALL THE                                                            still a very clean form that is
                                                                                                                     rectilinear.”
                                                                                                                                                         Shard – originally coined by
                                                                                                                                                         conservation body English
                                                                                                                                                         Heritage as an insult. If it does
                                                                                                                                                                                                    “People don’t do this to
                                                                                                                                                                                                  the same degree in New
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       a burgeoning forest of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       skyscrapers. Over the last
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          common characteristics among
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          the most successful global
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              growth will be concentrated,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              on which streets the tallest
                                    CONSTRAINTS”                                                                        “40 Leadenhall has to be
                                                                                                                     unseen from Fleet Street,
                                                                                                                                                         stick, a nickname can be a
                                                                                                                                                         badge of genuine landmark
                                                                                                                                                                                                  York because it’s already an
                                                                                                                                                                                                  established high-rise city,”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       decade, its skyline has been
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       transformed under the close
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          skylines: “Very often, there is
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          a series of buildings, and then
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              buildings should be located,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              and sets viewing corridors
                                     GEOFF HARRIS, TH REAL ESTATE                                                    by sitting behind the dome                                                   points out Bill Price, director at   eye of James Parakh, urban         one landmark that’s different,      to protect landmarks such
                                                                                                                                                         status: few would recognise the
                                                                                                                     of St Paul’s Cathedral in the                                                WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff in        design manager at the City of      and then a natural feature.”        as the dome of the Rogers
                                                                                                                                                         Gherkin by its official name of
                                                                                                                     same way as The Scalpel,”           30 St Mary Axe.
                                                                                                                     adds James Taylor, partner at
                                                                                                                     Make. “But we didn’t want the

20                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      21
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES ///

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  THE SKY AND OTHER LIMITS ///
                                                                                                                                             10,000 people there when it’s                                                                    HASSELL recently won            front. “We reorganised the
                                                                                                                                             finished and they all need food                                                               a competition to design            streets, we replanted it and put
                                                                                                                                             and drink,” says Harris. “The                                                                 60 Martin Place in Sydney,         seating in, and we lifted the
                                                                                                                                             City of London is a busy area                                                                 a 32-storey tower due for          building up 9m so that a public
                                                                                                                                             so offering good amenities is                                                                 completion in 2019. The design     street can run through the site
                                                                                                                                             very important.”                                                                              team have tried to integrate it    underneath. Rather than the
                                                                                                                                                ‘Placemaking’ has become                                                                   into the cityscape in a range of   building lobby occupying the
                                                                                                                                             an important pastime for                                                                      ways, opening up a previously      middle of the site, it connects
                                                                                                                                             developers in recent years, not                                                               obstructed view of St Stephen’s    the square and the street. You
                                                                                                                                             only to satisfy planners but also                                                             church, and connecting the         can walk through there, sit
                                                                                                                                             because they recognise the                                                                    building with the surrounding      down, get a drink of water and
                                                                                                                                             commercial benefits of making                                                                 spaces at several different        no one will stop you.”
                                                                                                                                             a location more ‘sticky’. After                                                               levels. They have also created        EPA is now applying this
                                                                                                                                             all, potential office tenants                                                                 a generous ‘civic room’ that       concept to a much larger
                                                                                                                                             or apartment buyers have an                                                                   invites the public into the        project: No 1 Undershaft,
                                                                                                                                             increasing choice of rooms                                                                    ground plane, including a          a super-tall tower opposite
                                                                                                                                             with a view, and an attractive                                                                publicly accessible roof space     the Gherkin. Though the
                                                                                                                                             neighbourhood at ground                                                                       on the podium level that will      294m-high project will be the
                                                                                                                                             level can be a crucial point of                                                               contribute to the night-time       tallest building in London’s
                                                                                                                                             differentiation.                                                                              activity of Martin Place and       financial quarter, the starting
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Macquarie Street.                  point is the human scale. “In
                                                                                                                                                “As these buildings get
                                                                                                                                             larger and more and more                                                                         Get the city-making agenda      a city like London, you’ve got
                                                                                                                                             dominating, I think it’s incredibly                                                           right and asset values can         to understand how people
                                                                                                                                             important that we talk about                                                                  climb, says McBryde – the          move. We carry out pedestrian
                                                                                                                                             this more,” says Ken McBryde,                                                                 challenge is to create spaces      studies to map that movement,
                                                                                                                                             principal at HASSELL in                                                                       that genuinely feel as if they     and the challenge for us is how
                                                                                                                                             Sydney. “To make our cities                                                                   belong to the public on what is    to change it.”
                                                                                                                                             habitable, buildings need to                                                                  really private land.                  The scheme will see the

                                  “SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE IS UNIVERSALLY                                                                        work on a community level.”
                                                                                                                                                For McBryde, ‘groundlines’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This interface between
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           private and public will
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           continue to test project teams,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              redevelopment of an older
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              tower completed in 1969,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              a 118m-high block inserted
                                    RECOGNISED BUT THE MOST SUCCESSFUL THING                                                                 are as important as skylines,
                                                                                                                                             and it is a building’s presence
                                                                                                                                             at street level that determines
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           especially as tall gives way to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           super-tall. “As buildings get
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              clumsily into the winding
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              street pattern. EPA wants the
                                    IS THE GROUND PLANE. IT’S REALLY BUZZING”                                                                whether it is a successful
                                                                                                                                             addition to a cityscape. He uses
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           bigger, their cores become
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           more demanding,” says Nick
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              new building to work more
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              harmoniously with the existing
                                    KEN McBRYDE, HASSELL                                                                                     the example of the Sydney                                                                     Jackson, director at Eric Parry    city, and restore some of the
                                                                                                                                             Opera House, a world-famous                                                                   Architects. “The segregation of    older connections between
                                                                                                                                             landmark. “It’s universally                                                                   uses and of entrances becomes      the surrounding spaces. “There
                                                                                                                                             recognised as a symbol of the                                                                 more of a problem and security     are two 16th-century churches
                                                                                                                                             city, but the most successful                                                                 is a much bigger factor. That      that probably haven’t seen
                                                                                                                                             thing is the ground plane,                                                                    makes it very difficult in terms   each other for 300 years,” says
                                  Centre stadium. It’s designed      style, and even though they         committee, which is working on
                                                                                                                                             the podium and the way it                                                                     of how you land a building.        Jackson. “We want to remove
                                  to preserve the integrity of the   are dwarfed by tall buildings,      a publication about the spaces
                                                                                                                                             sits in the city. At all times of                                                             One of the problems we see         that blockage and replace it
                                  skyline as the city develops,      there has to be some balance.       surrounding tall buildings, due
                                                                                                                                             the week, this place is really                                                                as we look at many of the tall     with a more delicate footprint.”
                                  but the way buildings integrate    Thinking about one without          out in 2016.
                                                                                                                                             buzzing.”                                                                                     buildings going up around the         A super-tall giant that treads
                                  into the city at ground level      the other is not making a great        This is also a theme for                                                                       5 Aldermanbury Square, London   world is that they can be very     lightly on its surroundings:
                                  is an equal focus for Parakh:      city.”                              Richards at the City of London         He thinks that’s also why
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           aggressive and alienating at       perhaps that should be a model
                                  “You can’t ignore how these           Toronto’s first super-tall       Corporation. To gain planning       Londoners have embraced
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ground level.”                     for high-rise development
                                  buildings meet the street.         project has just been approved,     approval, he says, new towers       The Shard, even though it’s
                                  We’ve spent a lot of time                                                                                  on an unprecedented scale                                                                        To create more permeable        everywhere.
                                                                     the Mirvish+Gehry proposal          will ideally have some public
                                  thinking about the scale of the                                                                            for the city. “The success of                                                                 spaces, designers may need
                                                                     for twin residential towers, at     space at the top, and definitely
                                  individual in relationship with
                                  the tall building.” Buildings
                                                                     82 and 92 storeys. “It’s going to
                                                                     play an important role on the
                                                                                                         at the base. Accessibility and
                                                                                                         permeability at street level is
                                                                                                                                             The Shard is that it’s not an
                                                                                                                                             impenetrable tower, it’s actually     “WE LIFTED THE BUILDING UP                             to think radically about what
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           happens at ground level.
                                  must fit within their context
                                  and transition down to lower-
                                                                     skyline, but approval was based
                                                                     on preserving heritage and
                                                                                                         a must. At 40 Leadenhall, for
                                                                                                         example, the ground floor plate
                                                                                                                                             highly permeable. There’s a
                                                                                                                                             whole range of mixed uses               9m SO THAT A PUBLIC STREET                            When it was completed back
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           in 2007, EPA’s Stirling Prize-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           nominated 5 Aldermanbury
                                  scaled buildings and open
                                  space. Wind-tunnel testing
                                  is mandated on all projects.
                                                                     getting adequate separation
                                                                     distances, adequate light and
                                                                                                         has been set back to leave
                                                                                                         more pavement and retail
                                                                                                                                             that the public can explore at
                                                                                                                                             multiple levels, starting with
                                                                                                                                             the transport interchange. It’s
                                                                                                                                                                                     CAN RUN THROUGH THE SITE                              Square was pretty tall for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           London. As well as designing
                                  “Parks and historic landmarks
                                  are very much part of our
                                                                     privacy.” He is also chair of the
                                                                     Council on Tall Buildings and
                                                                     Urban Habitat urban design
                                                                                                         space, and there is a restaurant
                                                                                                         on levels 13 and 14. “If you just
                                                                                                         take this building, there will be
                                                                                                                                             access to the public that makes
                                                                                                                                             this a well-loved building.”
                                                                                                                                                                                     UNDERNEATH”                                           the 20-storey office building,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           the practice also completely
                                                                                                                                                                                    NICK JACKSON, ERIC PARRY ARCHITECTS                    transformed the square in

 22                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  23
DESIGNING SKYSCRAPER CITIES ///

                                                                                                                                                                                                     THE SKY AND OTHER LIMITS ///
                                                                                                            PUBLIC SPACE IN PRIVATE
                                                                                                            TOWERS: THE INVISIBLE
                                                                                                            SERVICES CHALLENGE
                                                                                                            BY DAVID HEALY, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR,
                                                                                                            WSP | PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF

                                                                       There’s a proliferation of              The shapes of many                 The Shard’s façade is meant
                                                                       public space at the top of
                                                                       tall buildings in London, as a
                                                                                                            London towers are influenced
                                                                                                            by viewing corridors to
                                                                                                                                               to resemble pieces of broken
                                                                                                                                               glass leaning together, so rather
                                                                                                                                                                                   “THERE IS ONLY
                                                                       requirement of many planning
                                                                       approvals. For a building
                                                                                                            St Paul’s Cathedral. But
                                                                                                            this also determines the
                                                                                                                                               than having a standard band
                                                                                                                                               of louvres to get air in and out
                                                                                                                                                                                     ONE VERTICAL
                                                                       services engineer, the impact
                                                                       of that space on the building is
                                                                                                            internal layouts of a building,
                                                                                                            and even its ventilation
                                                                                                                                               of the building, we had to do
                                                                                                                                               something a little bit different.
                                                                                                                                                                                     SIDE ON THE
                                                                       absolutely huge.
                                                                          When I was working on
                                                                                                            philosophy. When buildings
                                                                                                            lean, that has a significant
                                                                                                                                               As the ’shards’ overlap to
                                                                                                                                               create fractures, that creates an     CHEESEGRATER,
                                                                       The Shard, this was a major
                                                                       challenge because of the shape
                                                                                                            effect on the mechanical and
                                                                                                            electrical services. There is
                                                                                                            only one vertical side on the
                                                                                                                                               opportunity for winter gardens
                                                                                                                                               on the office floorplates, which
                                                                                                                                               are naturally ventilated, and
                                                                                                                                                                                     WHICH ALMOST
                                                                       of the building. The floorplates
                                                                       shrink as the building gets taller   Cheesegrater, for example,
                                                                                                            which almost dictates where
                                                                                                                                               on the plant levels we could
                                                                                                                                               use them to get air in and out
                                                                                                                                                                                     DICTATES
                                                                       but there are massive peaks
                                                                       in occupancy at the mid-level
                                                                       restaurant and the viewing
                                                                                                            the core has to go. The public
                                                                                                            space at the base and the
                                                                                                                                               of the building. Just one of
                                                                                                                                               the impacts of that is that you
                                                                                                                                                                                     WHERE THE
                                                                       gallery at the top – so the
                                                                       greatest concentration is where
                                                                                                            need to keep that free of
                                                                                                            columns impacts the structural
                                                                                                                                               need to designate a particular
                                                                                                                                               fracture for bringing air in or
                                                                                                                                                                                     CORE HAS
                                                                       the floorplates are smallest. If
                                                                       we had followed standard fire
                                                                                                            engineering, and that pushes
                                                                                                            the core further to the back of
                                                                                                                                               out because you don’t want to
                                                                                                                                               cross-contaminate it. It may          TO GO”
                                                                       escape provisions by using           the building. Once you offset      not be immediately obvious
                                                                       multiple stairs, there wouldn’t      the core, that creates a little    to everyone else, but there’s
                                                                       have been much room left for         bit of lower value floor space.    some real gymnastics to get
                                                                       anything else. Our solution was      So instead of a ventilation        this to work.
                                                                       that some of the lifts would be      strategy where there are central
                                                                       used in a fire or emergency.         air-handling units at the top
                                                                       That too had a massive knock-        and at the bottom, feeding up
                                                                       on effect, and introduced a          through risers, you end up with
                                                                       range of constraints because         on-floor handling units serving
                                                                       we needed to provide                 each tenant separately.
                                                                       pressurised lobbies where
                                                                       people can wait for lifts, and
                                                                       install an independent cooling
                                                                       system for the lift motor rooms
                                                                       and other elements that would
                                                                       ensure the lifts could be safely
                                                                       used in an emergency.

                                  “THE SUCCESS OF THE SHARD IS THAT
                                    IT’S NOT AN IMPENETRABLE TOWER,
                                    IT’S ACTUALLY HIGHLY PERMEABLE”
                                   KEN McBRYDE, HASSELL

24                                                                                                                                                                                                     25
You can also read