Tall Buildings 2014
Council on Tall Buildings and Urban
Habitat, 280 pages
The Interlace in
Singapore by the Office of Metropolitan Architecture
Every year since 2007, the 40-year-old
Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat based in Chicago publishes
a book on the year's best buildings in four major regions: the
Americas. Asia and Australasia, Europe, and the Middle East &
In each region, it declares one
"winner," but also adds finalists and nominees, in varying
numbers. In total, the 2014 edition discusses in good detail 104
tall buildings as compared to 54 in 2009.
This year inaugurated the Urban
Habitat Award which was given to very impressive, very dramatic and
sprawling Interlace complex in Singapore designed by the Office of
Metropolitan Architecture, which is headed by Rem Koolhaas.
The book provides the following
"The Interlace is a 1,040-unit
apartment complex consisting of 31 apartment blocks, each six stories
tall and 70 meters long, stacked in hexagonal arrangements around eight
large-scale, permeable courtyards. The stacking of the volumes
creates a topographical phenomenon more reminiscent of a
landscape than of a typical building. An extensive network of
communal gardens and spaces is interwoven with amenities,
providing multiple opportunities for social interaction, leisure and
recreation - both on the rooftops of, and in between, these stacked
Vertical stacking at
"The unusual geometry of
the hexagonally stacked building blocks creates a dramatic spatial
structure. Partly resting, partly floating, the blocks hover on
top of each other to form open, permeable courtyards that interconnect
with one another and the surrounding landscape and city. An
expressive, interlaced space emerges that connects the multiple parts
of the development into an open, inclusive community."
Just what is needed for large
swaths of the Lower East Side, East Harlem, Harlem and parts of the
De Rotterdam by Office of Metropolitan
majestic and great work by the Office of Metropolitan Architecture is
De Rotterdam that is named after a Holland America Line
oceanliner. The 495-foot-high project was named the "winner" of
"Best Tall Building" for the Europe region. It was developed by
MAB and OVG Projectontwikkeling.
The development has three
interconnected mixed-use towers accommodating offices, apartments, a
hotel, retail and conference facilities. The book notes that
"unlike a typical tall building, where the programs are stacked one on
top of another, in De Rotterdam, the functions come in side by side
It suggests that a
jumbling of the bland buildings of Rockefeller West or Embarcadero
Center could create an interesting, perhaps exciting, shifting
"barcode" of urban aesthetics.
The book notes that "De
Rotterdam's stacked towers are arranged in a subtly irregular cluster
that refuses to resolve into a singular form, and produces intriguing
new views from different perspectives."
The jury statement offers the
"De Rotterdam subverts accepted
notions of how a skyscraper is supposed to behave. While the
collective massing suggests a refined and simple monolith, the
slightest change of perspective reveals secondary and tertiary
complexities. Sunsets cascade through the small gaps between the
offset upper volumes, as if the building is some king of ancient
timekeeping device. In certain lights, the towers are shimmering
and immutable, at dusk, they are translucent revealing the K-braces and
other structural interventions required to achieve the impression of
shifted solidity. The translucence also lends levity to the
otherwise massive building, re-confirming its daytime appearance as the
sail of a large ship while re-inventing it at night as a box lantern at
the harbor's end."
The book's introduction also added:
"The Europe winner, De Rotterdam,
is a deceptively straightforward project that appears as a
reinterpretation of a multi-tower project from the High Modern era in
North America, but then reveals myriad subtleties as one's viewing
angle changes, and as day changes to night. The Netherlands' now
largest building breaks down its scale by shifting the upper portions
of its three towers slightly off-center, which seems a curious
and minor intervention until nightime backlightning reveals the
structural acrobatics required to accomplish this.
Wangjing Soho in
Beijing by Zaha Hadid
Another "finalist" by
Hadid in the Asia and Australasia region was the Jockey Club Innovation
Tower in Hong Kong.
by SOHO China Co. Ltd., the spectacular, three-towered Wangjing Soho in
Beijing is one of Zaha Hadid's greatest creations. All three
towers, the tallest of which is 656 feet tall, are clad with bright
alumimum thin bands that horizontally recall the voluptuous pleats of
fashion designer Fortuny. "Wangjing SOHO creates some of those
stop-dead moments for the Beijing visitor - sculptural mountains in the
middle of the city," according to Antony Wood, one of the council's
jurors. The building was a "finalist" in the Asia and Australasia
The Jockey Club Innovation Tower by Hadid
Erected by the Hong Kong
Polytechnic University as a school for design, the 15-story building
has external sunshades of different heights and widths that are
stacked vertically and give the tower the image of track star crossing
the finish line.
The fluidity of the design is
marred only by the incongruous base that is composed of a gray concrete
bottom beneath a narrow white perforated band. Some of the
building's varied-height louvers are perforated, which adds to the
"texture" of the facade. Despite such nit-picking, the building,
which has interior and exterior courtyards, conveys a very strong sense
of thrust and motion.
One Central Park in
One Central Park in
Sydney 2 and its large
cantilever of reflectors to redirect sunlight below
"winner" of the Best Tall Building Asia and Australasia is one Central
Park in Sydney that was developed by Frasers Property Australia and
Sekisui House Australia. It was designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel.
The building was also a
"finalist" for the council's Innovation Award.
The jurors' statement provided
the following commentary:
"One Central park is a breathtakingly beautiful building that captured
the imagination of the jury. The living facades in One Central
Park provide fantastic visual tactile, aromatic, and auditory
experiences for the occupants of the apartments and deliver significant
urban heat island reductions and other benefits to the local
neighborhood. This also a tall building that welcomes the sun and
treats it as an asset to be managed. In addition to the shading
itself and increasing its own value, the neighborhood is further
enhanced by the project's 42 heliostats that reflect sunlight onto the
The book notes that the heliostats on the lower building redirect
sunlight up to 320 reflectors on a cantilever off the taller tower,
which then beam the light down into areas that would overwise be in
permanent shade. "The system adapts hourly and seasonally to the
need for brightness and warmth, redirecting sunlight to a heat
absorbing pool of water atop the glass atrium in summer, which can be
drained to assist with heating in the winter....During the day, dappled
lights move on the ground in a precisely programmed choreography.
At night, the heliostat becomes a monumental chandelier and appears in
the dark sky like a floating pool of tiny LED lights that merge into a
giant screen and simulate reflections of glittering harbor waters."
Huzhou Hot Spring Resort in China
by the Feizhou Group, this "ring" shaped, 335-foot-tall structure
was designed by MAD Architects. It was a "finalist" in the Asia
and Australasia regions.
The jurors' statement provides the following commentary:
"With its smooth curves and improbable proportions, this surreal
concrete-tube structure evokes endless contemplation. Seen
against the water, it does seem to be an expression of continuity with
something below the surface that beguiles the tower's standoff with
gravity and speaks to invisible forces. It is rare that a tall
building can be both an artifact of human ingenuity and seem eternal
and naturalistic, but the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort
Fake City in Beihai,
Another project by MAD Architects, is Fake City in Beihai, China.
the 348-foot-high structure has a very long undulating roof with
gardens, tennis courts and swimming pools. The project was
developed Beihai Xinpinguangyang Real Estate Development Co.
The book notes that the project's "arched entryway and cut-out hole
provide visual and spatial continuity between the oceanfront and the
valley behind the building," which was a "finalist" in the Asia &
Guangzhou Circle in
453-foot-high Guangzhou Circle building in China was developed by Guang
Dong Hong He Construction and designed by AMproject.
The book contains the following commentary:
"The 'Bi' disc is one of China's most enduring symbols, with a history
going back 5,000 years. Here, set alongside the Zhujiang River,
the reflections of the disc-shaped structure forms a figure '8' in the
water, also an enduring symbol of good fortune....It is the south gate
of Guangzhou, and by extensions, for all of China, as the city is a
terminus for ferry boats and high-speed rail."
The building's form conjures a frozen ferris wheel.
Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building in Portland, before, left, and
dramatic renovation of the 18-story Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal
Building in Portland, Oregon, was named the winner in the Americas
region. The developer was the General Services Administration and
the architect was Cutler Anderson Architects. The original
building was erected in 1974. The "raw bones" brutalism of the
original building's main facade has been replaced by a seven-part
curved-screen set at varying angles that is almost "dainty" in its
Tower in Vienna
black 732-foot-high building is known as the DC Tower and is the
tallesst in Vienna. It was developed by Wiener
Entwicklungsegesellaft fur den Donauraum AG and designed by Dominique
Perrault Architecture. It was a finalist in the Europe region.
Antony Wood, a juror, is quoted as stating that "The ribbons of the
main facade of DC Tower give the building a kinetic energy and dynamism
that hints at an ability of the building to actually move."
The book provides the following commentary:
"The 220-meter building can be compared to an entirely new urban
district with a diverse range of functions: offices, a four-star hotel,
apartments, a sky bar, a public open space, restaurants, and a fitness
center. A subtle game of flat and folded facades affords the
glass and steel tower a sensual identity. the facade folds give
the tower a liquid, immaterial character, a malleability constantly
adapting the light, a reflection or an event. The folds contrast
with the no-nonsense rigor of the other three facades, creating a
tension that electrifies the public space at the tower base.
Dancing on its platform, the tower is slightly oriented toward the
river, turning its back on no one, neither the historic nor the new
The jury's statement maintained that "DC Tower's onyx form and
tesselating facade are like a lightning bolt striking a bolt in the
ground - Donau City is Vienna's sister, but has its own identity.
Now the metropolis has a solid, definitive, vertical conduit of
commerce, next to the horizontal one that has nourished it for
Tower in Dubai
1,005-foot-tall Cayan Tower in Dubai was developed by Cayan Investment
& Development and designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
Every floor is the same and it contains 495 apartments in six different
configurations. It has recessed windows and the top six levels of
the tower "disintegrate" randomly, a fine touch. The tower was
the tall building "winner" in the Middle East and Africa regions.
The jury's statement provides the following commentary:
"The twisting form of the Cayan Tower is an unusually elegant
statement. The juxtaposition of the 75-story tower next to the
water, and next to the nearby rectangular buildings helps to create a
softer, inspirational and exciting urban environment that would not
have been possible with a conventional tower. The engineering is
exceptional, and it is praiseworthy not only for its visual impact, but
also for its material economy and appropriate responsiveness to a
challenging urban and environmental condition. The attention to
detail, including the subtly angled perforated titanium screens that
moderate the harsh desert light, transcends scale and is impressive
from both inside and out. In an environment where so many tall
buildngs lined up in a row against a humid and reflective backdrop can
make massive buidings seem like cardboard cut-outs. It takes an
extraordinary gesture to indelibly express the three-dimensionality of
a building. Cayan Tower makes that gesture; happening upon its
dancing form in the skyline is like encountering a hula-hooper on a
train full of grey flannel suits."
Anhui New Broadcasting
Center in Hefei, China
778-foot-tall Anhui New Broadcasting Center in Hefei, China was
developed by the Anhui Broadcasting & TV Station and designed by
New Design Architecture. It was a "Nominee" in the Asia &
The center is distinguished by
its very handsome, light-colored outer facade that resembles a gorgeous
and very intricate lace that covers much of the structure but stops
short of its "shoulders" and "legs."
The book provides the following commentary:
"The innovative structure showcases fluidity through its swift upward
momentum, recalling an unfolding paper scroll. The spiral shape
conceptualizes ancient Chinese wisdom as physical representations of
local Li style forms, traditional Chinese calligraphy adorn the outer
skin of its double-layered facade."
The "lace" stands out against the dark blue, speckled background layer
whose truncated flat top supports an antenna. The "lace" is
mesmerizing and the spiral form is attractive but it should have been
Academy 3 at the City
of Hong Kong University
complex plan distinguishes the sprawling Academy 3 addition to the
campus of the City of Hong Kong University. Its low-rise podium
is raised above ground level to give pedestrians access to a park and
the height of the podium varies from two to four stories. It
dramatically extends beyond its tower with an upwardly angled black
"wrap" while at the other end it is slightly angled and has a long
"green" roof garden. The structure's mid-rise tower is also
complex with a "barcode" light-colored facade with tall windows on one
side and a more conventional fenestration pattern with some protruding
corner balconies and an angled protrustion with an uneven roofline on
the other. The building was designed by Roland Lu & Partners
and was a "finalist" in the Asia and Australasia region.
358-foot-tall building was a "nominee" in the Asia and Australasia
region and was developed by Vicland Corporation Pty. Ltd. It was
designed by ROTHELOWMAN. It has small, square windows on the main
facade that faces a freeway. They very in size and each story has
two rows of windows. The tower rises from a four-story base
beneath an angled two-story setback. The fenestration pattern on
its main facade is zig-zag. The building has 147 apartments and
they are "clustered" around large three-story skygardens.
Peninsula Tower in Mexico City
very striking, 538-foot-tall tower was developed by Residencial
Peninsula Santa Fe and designed by Teodoro Gonzalez de Leon. The
building has 39 residential floors, a two-level penthouse,
three-amenity floors, a roof garden and a heliport. The book
notes that "the glazed envelope of the building is set back 1.27 meters
from the surface of the chiseled white concrete perimeter
columns. The building was a "nominee" in the Americas
Modern Medical Center in China
840-foot-high Changzhou Modern Medical Center in China was developed by
Changzhou Radiio & TV Realty Company Ltd., and designed by the
Shanghai Institute of Architectural Design & Research Co.,
The book provides the following commentary:
"The form of the tower is inspired by the 1,300-year-old Tianning
Temple, wich is the most famous historic buildng in Changzhou.
The project intends to represent a pagoda, which in traditional Chinese
culture is thought to being good fortune. The lower part of the
main taower is office space, and the higher section is a Marriott
hotel. The top of the tower consists of luxury apartments and an
The tower, which culminates in a tall antenna, has a facade of many
bundled angles topped by numerous setbacks. The building was a
"nominee" in the Asia and Australasia region.
council award its Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement award to Douglas
Durst, the chairman of the Durst Organization that developed the Conde
Nast and Bank of America buildings on West 42nd Street in Manhattan.
The council awarded its Performance Award to the 1,588-foot-tall
International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong that was designed by Kohn
Pedersen Fox and erected in 2010. A "finalist" for that award was
the 1,380-foot-tall Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai that was designed by
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1999.
The "winner" of the council's 10-Year Award was the 533-foot-high
Deutsch Post Tower in Bonn that was designed by JAHN in 2002.
"Finalists" for the 10-Year Award included Taipei 101 that was erected
in 2004 and designed by C. Y. Lee & Partners, and the Torre Agbar
in Barcelona designed also in 2004 by Ateliers Jean Nouvel.