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Which is the better way to measure a building’s height?

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2017 by vincentloy

Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) which is considered the foremost authority on tall buildings has made it clear that it has four ways of measuring a building’s height. Out of the four, height to the architectural top is officially used to determine the list of world’s tallest building. Architectural top here includes unoccupied spires/pinnacles/parapets that are permanent and critical to the overall design while disregards antennae, signage, flagpole or other ‘functional technical equipment’.

This is the reason why the Petronas Twin Towers won over Sears Tower (now renamed Willis Tower) to become the tallest buildings in the world back in 1997. The twin towers reach the height of 452 metres including their architectural spires while Willis Tower goes up to 527 metres including its antennae. However, antenna is not included and hence the official height of Willis Tower is just 442 metres.

The other three methods on measuring a building’s height that can be seen as alternatives or extensions of the main measuring method are height to top of roof, height to highest occupied floor, and height to highest point (tip). The latter method is the one that counts everything from a building from its base to its very top including those ‘functional technical equipment’. Once Taipei 101 was built in 2003,  the skyscraper cools down the controversy by topping the world’s tallest ranking in three out of the four methods. Then, Burj Khalifa came in 2009 to take all the top spots including the world’s tallest man-made structure and it is still holding the title now. The current list of world’s top ten tallest buildings is shown below which is measured in height to architectural top: (click on the image for larger version)

Besides than these four methods, other professional industries in this field of tall buildings such as the Emporis has its own set of methods too. But not to confuse anyone further, we will just stick to the more precise ones by CTBUH at this point.

There are still many parties who are not happy with these methods. They each has its flaws. The height to tip method rewards vanity height of all stripes, which could allow designers or developers seeking a height accolade to cheaply take the top spot using any poorly designed, extraneous addition to the roof. On the other hand, height to highest occupied floor does not acknowledge the impact that a building has on the experience of the urban environment – for example, the Burj Khalifa does not appear 584 meters tall but 828 meters, and as most of us will never be lucky enough to visit its topmost floor, it seems only sensible to judge its height based on its impact on the city’s appearance.

How about height to top of roof? In the variety of design of skyscraper nowadays, it’s very hard to judge the actual roof of a particular building. Is it just the roof over the highest occupied floor or roof covering the very highest portion of the building although the floor below it is not habitable.  The Burj Khalifa has 244 meters of vanity height, but where exactly is the roof over its top floor? The tapered design of this building does not allow for such simple definitions. The definition provided also repeats the flaw of the “height to top floor” method, in that many skyscraper designs have significant architectural additions above this, which impact how they are perceived by those on the ground.

Hence, which of the four methods are the best? Of can you define what’s the ‘best’ or the ‘better’ here? Louis Sullivan, an architect who is always known as the father of skyscrapers, says “It must be every inch a proud and soaring thing, rising in sheer exultation that from bottom to top it is a unit without a single dissenting line”.  If we take this to be true then it is clear that measuring the height to the tip, including – and rewarding – any and all of the clutter that often adorns the tops of skyscrapers is a move against design quality.

By contrast CTBUH’s official measurement tool, at the very least, holds designers accountable for ensuring that the way a building’s height is expressed is also a factor in establishing its quoted height. As architects, shouldn’t we support any tool which encourages tall buildings to be expressed elegantly? Recently, once the 1 World Trade Center in New York City is completed, another heated argument surfaces. Some claims that it is US tallest building but some said it’s Willis Tower. Many don’t see the antennae-like, awkward-designed and out-of-proportion spire on top of 1WTC as the key architectural element of the building. I too stand in that opinion. However, CTBUH has approved to have the spire as part of its architectural component in measuring its building height to the architectural top.

Increasing a building’s height with poor design is a big NO for me. Putting in a huge spire that is not proportionate to the overall building is a bad decision too. On the other hand, I do think it is necessary to have vanity height (non-usable height) to ‘complete’ a skyscraper especially when it is a tapering design on certain occasions. This issue actually leaves up a lot of questions and is open for multiple discussions.

Nevertheless, what’s important is that ‘the architects shouldn’t be arguing over which building is taller, but rather which building is better.’ 

Reference:

http://www.archdaily.com/548829/in-defense-of-rewarding-vanity-height

http://www.archdaily.com/881090/the-10-different-ways-to-measure-a-skyscrapers-height

(Images in this post are from the two sources listed above)

 

 

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One almost done, one has half way to go, and one is still on ground. Updates on three supertall construction projects in Kuala Lumpur.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2017 by vincentloy

Kuala Lumpur is ranked among one of the best city skylines in the world. It gained such recognition due to its splendid array of clustered buildings topped with the iconic Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower. However, the city skyline is going to further transform, thanks to the many new skyscrapers currently being built in the city. They are going to immensely impact the city skyline due to their enormous heights. The city won’t look the same after every few years and I look forward to see more tall and nice-looking buildings being constructed in the city.

Here are the 3 supertall skyscraper projects in Kuala Lumpur that are receiving high attention and shown together are their latest construction images. Render is shown for each project below too. Supertall building refers to a building that exceeds 300 metres in height.

1.Four Seasons Place. 

It is a 65-storeys mixed use tower currently under construction besides the Petronas Twin Towers. Once completed, it will have a final height of 343 metres. It will contain a hotel, serviced residences and a shopping mall at the podium. After undergoing multiple delays and design changes in the past, the tower has now finally rising quickly. It has structurally topped out not long ago and the work on the building’s crown has started. It will top out architecturally before last quarter of the year and will open next year. Once completed, it will be the third tallest building in the country, right after the two twin towers that sat beside it. Now, it has already made the twin towers to look not as tall as in the past eventhough it is still shorter than them by a little over 100 metres.

 

This one is ALMOST DONE.

2. TRX Exchange 106 Tower. 

It is a 106-storeys office tower currently under construction at the Tun Razak Exchange site. Once completed, this new region will become the financial hub of the city. Once completed, the tower will have a final height of 452 metres. It surprisingly will have the same height as the Petronas Twin Towers. You may wonder that it should be taller than the twin towers since it almost has over 20 floors more than the twin towers? Nope. It’s because this TRX Tower has no spire to add up to its height. The construction for this tower is very fast and it has now already half way to its top. It has now already making a huge impact to the city’s skyline. The highlight of the tower will be its crystalline crown.

This one is HALF WAY TO FINISH.

3. PNB118 Merdeka Tower.

It is a 118-storeys office tower currently under construction on the lot bordering the historical Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur. It is just right opposite my former secondary school, the Methodist Boys School KL. Once completed, it will be the tallest building in the country as well as among the top five tallest buildings in the world at a height of 644 metres. It will surpass the height of Shanghai Tower (632 metres), One World Trade Center (541 metres), Taipei 101 (508 metres) and many other skyscrapers across the world. However, its construction has been very slow and I read a news somewhere that it experienced problem with its foundation. I predict that it will be completed by 2020 or 2021. It will reach this immense height of over 600 metres due to its very long spire at the top.

 

This one is still not rising and is STILL ON GROUND WORK.

Hoping to see great progress from these skyscraper projects once I’m back to KL end of this year.

(Images in this post are from skyscrapercity.com forum webpages)

Shanghai Tower named CTBUH’s Best Tall Building Worldwide in 2016 and won Emporis Skyscraper Award 2015

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2016 by vincentloy

Shanghai Tower is a 632 metres tall skyscraper located in Shanghai, China and is currently the second tallest building in the world. Completed in 2015, it is also the tallest building in China, a country that has been actively building supertalls in recent decades. Designed by Gensler Architects, Shanghai Tower has 128 floors and is one of the three supertall buildings in the prime area in Pudong. The other two are the Shanghai World Financial Center (492 metres high) and Jin Mao Tower (421 metres high).

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Recently, the tower is named Best Tall Building Worldwide in 2016 by Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Besides that, the tower has also won the Emporis Skyscraper Award 2015. It’s a double joy for the tower. Shanghai Tower has accomplished such level of recognition due to many reasons. Some of them are its elegant spiraling cylindrical form, energy-efficient performance of the building, extraordinary double-skin facade, world’s fastest elevator, etc.

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Shanghai Tower prevailed over other winners in smaller categories in CTBUH Best Tall Buildings selection to take the top prize after winning the Best Tall Building Asia and Australasia. Best Tall Building Americas goes to VIA 57 West, Best Tall Building Europe goes to The White Walls and Best Tall Building Middle East and Africa goes to The Cube. As for the Emporis Skyscraper Award, Shanghai Tower topped the list of their 10 finalist selection. The other 9 in order from top to bottom are Evolution Tower in Russia (no.2), II Dritto in Italy (no.3), Jiangxi Nanchang Greenland Central Plaza in China (no.4), ABODE 318 in Australia (no.5), Icon Bay in United States of America (no.6), D1 Tower in United Arab Emirates (no.7), 432 Park Avenue in United States of America (no.8), Citygate in Austria (no.9) and ICE II in Canada (no.10).

I would love to visit Shanghai Tower and goes up to its observation deck to enjoy the panoramic view of the city and to purchase a replica model of the skyscraper. If you know me well, one of my hobbies is to collect replica models of famous buildings and towers around the world. This hobby is actually very costly, but what can I do since it’s my interest. I have not visited Shanghai before and I am looking forward for a trip to that city in near future. I think I would be very impressed not only by the supertalls in that city, but also by the overall magnificent skyline of the city.

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(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

Winners of 2016 Tall Building Awards by CTBUH

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2016 by vincentloy

The Council on Tall Building and Urban Habitat have announced the winners of the 15th edition of the CTBUH Tall Building Awards. From over 100 submissions, the best buildings from four regions – the Americas, Asia & Australasia, Europe and Middle East & Africa – were selected, along with recipients of the Urban Habitat Award, the Innovation Award, the Performance Award and the 10 Year Award. The CTBUH will pick a global winner from the regional selections as well as announcing the winner for their prestigious Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award and Fazlur R. Khan Lifetime Achievement Medal later this year.

The towers were chosen by a panel of architects from world-renowned firms and were judged on every aspect of performance, looking in particular for “those that have the greatest positive impact on the individuals who use these buildings and the cities they inhabit.” To be able to contest in this year’s awards, the buildings/materials must be completed in year 2015, excluding the Performance Award and the 10 Year Award. Here’s below is the full list of winners:

Best Tall Building – Americas: VIA 57 West (BIG)

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“VIA 57 West is an inspired hybrid of the traditional courtyard block and high-rise tower. Its complex and intelligently orientated architecture maximizes occupants’ views to the Hudson River and activates the New York City waterfront with a dynamic new standard for integrated urban infill development.” – Juror Michael Palladino, Design Partner, Richard Meier & Partners Architects.

Best Tall Building – Asia and Australasia: Shanghai Tower (Gensler)

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“Shanghai Tower shows the greatest commitment to communal space in a tall building since Commerzbank Tower completed in 1997. It contains the world’s first truly ‘inhabitable’ double-skin façade on a skyscraper, which is not only remarkable for its intended greenery, but its incorporation into the tower’s overall ventilation strategy. The sacrifice of valuable floor area to realize this social amenity proves that the aspirations for Shanghai Tower went far beyond mere commercial gain.” – Juror Antony Wood, Executive Director, CTBUH.

Best Tall Building – Europe: The White Walls (Ateliers Jean Nouvel)

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“The White Walls is a truly groundbreaking exercise in materiality, serving as a successful expression of the architectural and environmental values of the Mediterranean across the vertical axis. Extensive vegetation on the north façade and the presence of loggias on the south façade create a very real connection with nature, while the tower’s punctured concrete walls quite literally ‘bleed green’ with tangles of local plant species.” – Juror Karl Fender, Director, Fender Katsalidis Architects.

Best Tall Building – Middle East and Africa: The Cube (Orange Architects)

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“The Cube indicates a clear alternative to the extruded box typology that defines the majority of residential high-rises around the world, instead comprising a stack of completely unique villas in the sky. The tower is particularly successful in its structural design, which features a system of elegantly framed girder walls that add visual flair and allow for completely unobstructed floor plans.” – Juror Hashimah Hashim, Executive Director, KLCC Property Holdings Berhad.

Urban Habitat Award: Wuhan Tiandi Site A

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“The Wuhan Tiandi Mixed-Use Development demonstrates that a master plan for a tall building neighborhood can include vibrant public spaces that offer a high level of intimacy, walkability, and social design. The disposition of tall buildings combined with an animated public realm creates a vibrancy that is rarely found in newly created communities. The Wuhan Tiandi complex offers a high quality of life for those that live, work, and visit – a quality of life that rivals long established tall building neighborhoods found elsewhere in the world.” – Juror James Parakh, Urban Design Manager, City Planning Department of Toronto.

10 Year Award: Hearst Tower (Foster + Partners)

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“Walking along the base of Hearst Tower, you might not even realize that you are right next to one of New York’s greatest architectural achievements of the 2000s. Built directly on top of a 1920s office relic, the tower made the world reexamine what’s possible in terms of preserving historic low-rise buildings in a dense downtown core. There’s also something cathartic about the juxtaposition between its classically reserved base and contemporary diagrid structure above.” -CTBUH Trustee Timothy Johnson, Design Partner, NBBJ.

Performance Award: Taipei 101 (C. Y. Lee)

Aerial view of Taipei 101, the world's new tallest building.

“It is rare to see a commitment to upgrade an existing building to this level of environmental performance. The extensive documentation of its energy upgrades and sustainability initiatives speaks for itself; TAIPEI 101 has been the subject of a tireless and exhaustive effort to become one of the most sustainable tall buildings in the world, and it has been successful in this mission. In addition to a comprehensive set of green technologies and systems installed throughout the building, a rigorous occupant engagement program really puts this project in a league of its own.” – Technical Juror Bill Browning, Co-Founder, Terrapin Bright Green.

Innovation Award: Pin – Fuse

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“The Pin-Fuse system opens the door to realizing increased resilience in buildings constructed in highly active seismic regions. By providing just the right amount of give under pre-determined axial loads, the system is innovative for its tested impact on repair frequency, costs, and structural longevity for buildings that have experienced an earthquake.” – Technical Jury Chair SawTeen See, Managing Partner, Leslie E. Robertson Associates.

More information can be found from its official website here at this link below:

http://awards.ctbuh.org/media/ctbuh-names-2016-tall-building-award-recipients/

(Images and information in this post are from the website as stated above. Further information is obtained from http://www.archdaily.com/790068/ctbuh-names-winners-of-2016-tall-building-awards)

City of Perth Library by Kerry Hill Architects.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2016 by vincentloy

Two weeks ago in a site visit from one of my classes, I had the opportunity to visit a wonderful place in the Perth Central Business District (CBD). It’s the City of Perth Library. The library has been housed in a number of locations before it moved to its current location in a new building along the Hay Street and next to the Perth Town Hall. The new library building costing up to AUD 60 million is designed by Kerry Hill Architects and it is officially opened this month.

I was quite in awe when I first visited this library. It’s not a very huge library but it’s one of the most beautiful libraries I have ever seen. Beautiful architecture and a very luxurious and comfortable environment inside. Definitely a perfect place for readers and even just for the wanderers like us two weeks ago in the site visit. The library has a circular design with seven floors, glass facades, and stone-clad columns. Some interesting features of the library include the spiraling staircase enveloping all the different levels in the center of the building, a central atrium with a huge painting and a skylight above, indoor roof garden, outdoor reading or sightseeing area, slanting top floor / attic level, and some details like the lighting along the handrails, folding door mechanism, etc.

Here below are some images I took of the library which clearly define how beautiful its architecture is.

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I would like to visit this library again soon.

(Copyright reserved to all the images in this post)

 

More updated details for KL118 Tower.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2016 by vincentloy

Finally, after months and months of speculation and secrecy surrounding Malaysia’s plan for the next tallest building of the country, more details had been revealed recently from the officiating ceremony. What is the project that I’m talking about? It’s the KL118 development. Now, it is renamed to PNB118 since PNB is the name of the owner’s company for this project. Well, I prefer KL118 more as it has more international appeal than ‘PNB’. Nobody knows (not only foreigners but also locals) what does PNB stands for.

Also known as ‘Warisan Merdeka’ (Heritage Independence), this development is located on a site just adjacent to the historic Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara. It is also located nearby to some very old buildings like Victoria Institution, Methodist Boys School (my former secondary school), Chin Woo Stadium, and Petaling Street (Chinatown). The project has been receiving heavy criticism due to its location on low-lying area which is also full of historical buildings and that this new modern supertall would not fit into this site context. I agreed. This project also receiving strong objection as the money put into this can be more beneficial for other purposes as the city does not need another supertall yet.

The iconic feature of this development would be the construction of an 118-storey tower, now named PNB 118 Tower. The final height of this skyscraper is still not confirmed but it is now fixed to be between 600 metres to 650 metres. Some sources said 610 metres or 630 metres while some even said it would be 644 metres tall which would make it even taller than the Shanghai Tower, the current world’s second tallest building. No matter what the final height is, this PNB118 Tower would still easily be the country’s new tallest building as well as one of top five world’s tallest buildings once it is completed. And it is announced recently that it is expected to be completed in 2024. Years ago, it is planned for completion by 2020 to coincide with Wawasan 2020 (Vision 2020) when the country would become a developed nation by year 2020. However, the project faced delay and it’s getting back on track now. It is now officially under construction.

The tower is designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects, an architecture office based in Melbourne, Australia which is previously famous for designing Eureka Tower in Melbourne. The design is also not that well received as many people commented that it is too simple, too glassy and do not possess timeless elegance like what Petronas Twin Towers achieved. I agreed to these opinions too. However, after its official rendering and an animation clip of the tower are out recently, some changed their mind and started to like the design. I’m one of them, but I still think that the design needs further improvement especially on its treatment to the top where it meets the spire. The spire is also a bit too long and out of proportion in comparison to the building form and volume. I knew it is just there to increase a substantial height for the building just to have it to be placed higher in the list of world’s tallest buildings later on.

So, here below are some new (latest) renderings, plan view and models’ images of the PNB118 Tower and also an animation clip for it by RSP Architects, the local design consultant for this project.

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Looking forward to see this new skyscraper dominating the skyline of Kuala Lumpur as soon as possible. Hmm…I suddenly changed my mind and think that KL needs a new supertall now since Petronas Twin Towers have been here for almost two decades already. However, it is undeniable that the twin towers are still elegant and remain as icon of the country forever.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

Current KL: 5 tallest buildings completed, 5 tallest buildings under construction, and 5 tallest buildings proposed in the city.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2016 by vincentloy

My city, Kuala Lumpur is considered slow in terms of construction boom compared to many cities in China or even in our neighbouring South East Asian countries. However, there are several (actually multiple) interesting skyscraper projects on-going (either in construction stage or still in proposal phase) in the city currently that deserve some attention worldwide.

Before I proceed, do you know that building above 150 metres high is classified as a tall skyscraper. Building above 300 metres is then called supertall skyscraper while megatall skyscraper refers to building beyond 600 metres high (currently only three buildings in the world are megatalls; Burj Khalifa, Shanghai Tower and Mecca Royal Clock Tower). Based on data available from Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), Kuala Lumpur has about nearly 50 tall skyscrapers (above 150 metres high) with 3 of them being supertalls (Petronas Twin Towers as two and Telekom Tower). Kindly take note that KL Tower (421 metres high) is a telecommunication tower and hence, not to be included.

The present five tallest buildings in the city are (as of 2016):

1. Petronas Twin Tower 1 (452 metres, 88 floors)

2. Petronas Twin Tower 2 (452 metres, 88 floors)

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3. Telekom Tower (310 metres, 55 floors)

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4. Ilham Tower (274 metres, 64 floors)

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5. Petronas Tower 3 (267 metres, 60 floors)

The five tallest buildings in the city are all beyond 250 metres mark. Wonderful. KL can be considered home to plenty of skyscrapers eventhough we still lose out to bigger cities like Hong Kong, New York, Chicago, Shanghai, Dubai, etc.

The five tallest buildings currently under construction in the city are (as of 2016):

1. KL118 Tower (644 metres, 118 floors, to be completed in 2020).

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2. Fairmont Kuala Lumpur Tower 1 (370 metres, 78 floors, to be completed in 2019). (Surprised of very lack of real data of this project despite it is already under-construction now)

3. Four Seasons Place (343 metres, 65 floors, to be completed in 2018).

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4. Fairmont Kuala Lumpur Tower 2 (278 metres, 71 floors, to be completed in 2018).

5. Banyan Tree Signatures (240 metres, 55 floors, to be completed in 2016, that’s this year!).

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Glad that there are still many skyscraper projects under construction in the city despite the poor economic situation especially the current crisis in the country. Wishing for these buildings above to be finished quick.

The five tallest buildings proposed in the city are (as of 2016):

1. Tradewinds Square Tower A (608 – 775 metres, 110 – 150 floors). (Three unconfirmed designs shown below)

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I personally prefer the first design; clean, simple yet elegant. The second and the third designs are average looking only.

2. Platinum Tower / TRX Signature Tower (430 metres, 90 floors). (Three unconfirmed designs shown below)

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The first design looks like a shorter version of Shanghai Tower. Second one looks quite good while the third one charms from its crown treatment. Hard to choose if you ask me.

3. Oxley Tower 1 (380 metres, 83 floors).

4. Oxley Tower 2 (380 metres, 83 floors).

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5. Tradewinds Square Tower B (288 metres, 61 floors).

Hoping to see at least some of the proposals above get to be materialized very soon. But like I said earlier, the economic downturn in our country currently is not looking good to ‘breath life’ into these amazing proposals. If most of these projects (under-construction or under proposal) are to be really completed in the next five or ten years, then Kuala Lumpur would become a much denser city with a more stunning skyline to enjoy in near future. I’m looking forward to that!

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)