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CTBUH Announces Best Tall Building Awards

Exterior view of the distinctively curved Bow building, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) named the distinctively curved Bow, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, as the best tall building in the Americas this year. Nigel Young/Foster + Partners

In addition to its annual best tall building awards, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat names its innovation and lifetime achievement award winners.

July 30, 2013—Every year dozens of skyscrapers are constructed around the world, many with awe-inspiring architectural designs and noteworthy technical details. So narrowing the field to the best-of-the-best is no simple task. But each year the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), a Chicago-based nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing tall building design and construction, takes on the challenge, and recently it named four distinct tall buildings from China, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates as the best tall buildings of 2013.

The CTBUH named The Bow, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the best tall building in the Americas; CCTV, in Beijing, China, the best tall building in Asia and Australasia; The Shard, in London, United Kingdom, the best tall building in Europe; and Sowwah Square, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the best tall building in the Middle East and Africa. “These selections show that we are not only awarding buildings ... for their sheer height,” said Daniel Safarik, the editor and spokesperson for CTBUH, in written responses to questions posed by Civil Engineering online. “The environmental, programmatic, and urbanistic performance of the buildings and the contribution of the designers and the buildings to the overall improvement of the industry [are] equally important.”

From among the four regional winners, the CTBUH will name the “Best Tall Building Worldwide” during its annual awards ceremony on November 7 at the iconic Crown Hall—designed by renowned architect Mies van der Rohe—at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

This year’s Best Tall Building Awards winners were selected from a pool of more than 60 entries from around the globe. The CTBUH selects winners on the basis of their contributions to the advancement of tall building design and impacts on urban environments. “The projects must exhibit processes and/or innovations that have added to the profession of design and enhance the cities and the lives of their inhabitants,” states the CTBUH website. What’s more, the council considers the sustainability of each project, including how it impacts the natural environment and whether it brings economic vitality to not only its owner but also its occupants and community. 

Exterior view of The Shard, which is a mixed-use building in London that takes the shape of a pinnacle clad in shards of glass

The European winner, The Shard, is a mixed-use building in
London that takes the shape of a pinnacle clad in shards of glass.
It was selected not only for its unique shape but also its
context-sensitive design. Wikimedia commons/David catchpole

The Americas winner, The Bow, is a 237 m tall commercial tower that is curved to take advantage of sunlight coming from the south and to maximize views of the Rocky Mountains. It was selected for its unique considerations of its urban setting and for being an exciting piece of architecture, Safarik wrote. The Asia winner, CCTV, serves as the state television headquarters and twists in form in response to complex programmatic, planning, and seismic requirements. It is considered a marvel of engineering, large cantilevers creating its distinctive shape, Safarik said. During the judging, Jeanne Gang, awards chair and principal of Studio Gang Architects, based in Chicago, called the CCTV “the Eiffel Tower of our time.” (Read “Chinese TV Headquarters Will Feature Braced Continuous Tube Structure,” Civil Engineering, November 2006.)

The European winner, The Shard, is a mixed-use building that takes the shape of a pinnacle clad in shards of glass. It is located in downtown London and was selected for its “extraordinary efforts to accommodate a historic neighborhood, integrate public transit and public space, and to create an iconic building that was sympathetic to history,” Safarik said. (Read “London’s Shard of Glass Challenges Designers,” Civil Engineering, August 2006.)

The Middle East and Africa winner, Sowwah Square, is a complex comprising four office towers adjoined by a two-story retail podium. It was selected for its sustainable design, integrating both active and passive strategies that work in its harsh climate, Safarik wrote.  

In addition to the Best Tall Building Awards, the CTBUH recently announced two winners of its 2013 Innovation Award. For that award, the council recognized the Broad Sustainable Building—the building construction subsidy of the Broad Group, an air conditioning manufacturer headquartered in Changsha, Hunan, China—for the prefabrication process it developed to construct a 30-story hotel known as T30, in Changsha, China. The method enabled the tower to be built in just 15 days using preassembled components. It also recognized KONE UltraRope, a new carbon-fiber hoisting technology developed by KONE Corporation, an elevator and escalator firm headquartered in Espoo, Finland. The technology has weight and flexibility advantages that effectively double the distance an elevator can travel in a single shaft to 1,000 m. “The winners of the Innovation Award have expanded the range of what’s possible,” Gang said in a press release. “These innovations forge a path for the next generation of tall buildings.”

The CTBUH also recently named two lifetime achievement award recipients. Henry Cobb, a founding partner of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, an architecture firm based in New York City, was named the winner of the Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of tall buildings and urban environments during his or her professional career. Cobb was selected for his integral role in the design and project management of some of this firm’s most significant works. Cobb “is also recognized as an expert in curtain wall design and put his firm and career at significant risk to proactively resolve issues around the design of Hancock Place in Boston, which had become notorious for shedding facade pieces under high-wind conditions,” Safarik wrote. “His leadership during this crisis provided fertile ground for other tall-building designers for resolving unanticipated issues in finished projects.”

Exterior view of the CCTV headquarters building in Beijing, which twists in form in response to complex programmatic, planning, and seismic requirements

The winning tower from Asia is the CCTV headquarters, in Beijing,
which twists in form in response to complex programmatic,
planning, and seismic requirements. Wikimedia Commons/ poeloq

Clyde N. Baker, Jr., P.E., S.E., a senior principal engineer for AECOM, the global technology and management support firm based in Los Angeles, was named the Fazlur R. Khan Lifetime Achievement Medal, which recognizes an individual’s demonstrated excellence in technical design and/or research that has made a significant contribution to a discipline or disciplines within the design of tall buildings and the urban built environment. Baker was selected for his expertise in geotechnical engineering, a critical component to tall building design. Baker has provided geotechnical engineering for seven of the 16 tallest buildings in the world as well as a significant number of buildings in downtown Chicago during the past 50 years. He has worked on such notable projects as the John Hancock Tower, Willis Tower, Taipei 101, and Petronas Towers. During the judging, Dennis Poon, P.E., M.ASCE, a vice-chairman and managing principal of Thornton Tomasetti, Inc., in New York City, and a juror for the contest, said, “Every time I encounter a big problem with a high-rise building, the first person I want to call is Clyde Baker.”


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    according to me the CCTV headquarters of beijing is somewhat different in design from others....however....this CTBUH is actually realy realy making the tall bulding manufactures to step in the field and create some realy awwww building .... i appreciate the way they are creating the competition in the saad iqbal from pakistan

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