Archive for skyscraper

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.’ 


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




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.


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 forum webpages)

New tall buildings rising in KL and latest skyline images of the city.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2017 by vincentloy

Since I’m back to Kuala Lumpur last November and some visits to the city since then, I have noticed some new tall buildings in the city. Some are still under construction but are already visible from far and making an impact to the city’s skyline due to their massive heights. Some have already topped out due to speedy construction and some have been totally completed and opened. So, there must be addition of few more buildings over 200 metres in height in the city of Kuala Lumpur.

But when I check out any latest list of the tallest buildings in the city online from Skyscraper Center, Emporis, Wikipedia, and other sources, there hasn’t been any much difference which is so not right. The list differs in each websites I browsed and I couldn’t really find one that truly reflect the current statistic of the city’s buildings. That is disappointing. Some new buildings are missing in this list and some others on the other list. They should have an accurate and updated database compiling the correct and latest information on this. I also found out some new buildings are listed there but without much essential data present like its height.

Here below are some of the new buildings in the city that are around or over 200 metres in height and should be apparent in the list of tallest buildings in Kuala Lumpur but are not:


Vortex KL Suites and Residences – Emporis stated it to be 235 metres tall and still under construction. But actually this 58-storey tower has been completed. Skyscrapercity put it at 260 metres high but I don’t think that is correct by looking at its picture.


Ritz-Carlton Residences KL – Also called as Berjaya Central Park, it is 48 floors high but there is no height data for this building at all.


Le Nouvel Residences – the taller tower is 49-storey high with Emporis stating a height of 199 metres, just 1 metre short of 200 metres mark.


Elite Pavilion – this one is going to be 230 metres tall and has 50 floors when completed. Its construction pace is noticeably fast and it is going to be topped out this year.


Platinum Suites Tower – Skyscrapercity put this tower at 51 floors high but Emporis states 57 floors and 231 metres tall. I don’t think Emporis’ data on this one is right. I knew its top floor swimming pool level is on 51st floor which is also the tallest swimming pool in the city. It also claims to be the tallest condominium in the city, a title previously hold by The Troika Tower 3 at 204 metres.



From left to right for first picture and from right to left for second picture – Sentral Residences Tower 1 & 2, St. Regis Hotel & Residences and Q Sentral. These new buildings in KL Sentral Development reach around 200 metres in height respectively and has already been completed except for the Sentral Residences Tower 1 & 2 that are still under construction but have already topped out. However, almost none of these buildings are featured in any list out there for the tallest buildings in the city. Emporis stated that Q Sentral is 49 floors and 199 metres high (but no data in Skyscraper Center), both Emporis and Skyscraper Center stated that St. Regis Hotel & Residences is 48 floors and 205 metres high (so I assume that is the correct data), and Skyscraper Center stated that Sentral Residences Tower 1 & 2 to be 52 floors and 200 metres tall each (but no data in Emporis). Weird right?! Conflicting or incomplete data everywhere.


KL Eco City Vogue Suite One – This project is expected to be completed by this year and it has topped out to its final height of 243 metres. Emporis states that it has 60 floors while Skyscraper Center said it has 63 floors. Whatever…! When completed, it is going to be the tallest residential building in the city and the whole Malaysia. This is a bit further away from the city area as it is in Mid Valley region. Now, the 310-metres tall Telekom Tower is not the only skyscraper standing in that Mid Valley region.


Four Seasons Place KL – This one is finally making huge progress after many years of delay in construction. When completed next year, it will be 65 floors high and has a height of 343 metres tall, a much taller companion to the adjacent Petronas Twin Towers (452 metres tall and current world’s tallest twin buildings).


W Hotel & Residences – Emporis states that it has 55 floors and 235 metres tall but Skyscraper Center states that it has 50 floors and is 232 metres tall. Conflicting data again. This skyscraper will be completed this year.

These buildings above are only those buildings in final stage of construction, topped-out or newly completed in KL that is over 200 metres tall respectively. Skyscraper projects that are still in early stage of construction are not included here such as the PNB118 Tower that is going to be the tallest building of the country when completed at 630 metres high. There is still no visible progress of this skyscraper project after so many years. I’m sure it is going to be completed later than the targeted year 2020 deadline.

Some cool latest pictures of Kuala Lumpur city skyline below before I end this post. Click on the images for a larger and more breathtaking sight.














(Images in this post are from

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).


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.




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.


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


A new tower taller than Burj Khalifa to be built in Dubai.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2016 by vincentloy

The current world’s tallest building is Burj Khalifa. It stands at a breathtaking height of 828 metres above ground in Dubai and is nearly 200 metres taller than the world’s second tallest. It has held on to this record for quite a few years already, until its neighbouring country, Saudi Arabia is planning to build a megatall skyscraper called Kingdom Tower in Jeddah. That tower which is now under construction is expected to reach beyond 1 kilometre high.

Recently, another new plan is revealed to build another tower taller than the Burj Khalifa and is to be located at Dubai’s Creek Harbour. It is set to be completed in 2020 (as a gift to the city before Dubai World Expo 2020), which means that there is only about 4 years only for it to be constructed. That’s a very short amount of time for a supertall skyscraper to be built. That’s a challenge but I think Dubai can still make it. Why? Money solves everything. The country is never afraid of spending billions on building countless skyscrapers in the middle of the desert.



The final height for this planned tower is not disclosed yet but it has been announced that it is going to be taller than Burj Khalifa as mentioned earlier. However, would it be taller than the 1-km high Kingdom Tower for it to be the world’s tallest? Maybe. It is designed by a famous Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava who said the design is inspired by the profile of a lily flower while also mimicking a minaret (Arabic for lighthouse/beacon), a distinctive building commonly found in Islamic architecture and symbolism. The contours of his design will be formed using a cable system that will also anchor the tower to the ground.



The tower itself will feature fully-glazed rotating balconies and observation decks (of course) as well as interior landscaping that takes influence from the hanging gardens of Babylon (now at dizzying heights). The showpiece observation area will be called “The Pinnacle Room” and will offer  views over Dubai. Alongside this, up to 20 stories will house mixed-use facilities such as restaurants and a boutique hotel. The core of the building, as depicted, will rise up supported by the cable structure, housing all the building facilities and services. At the top, where the diameter is widest, will be the Pinnacle Room that will house an array of greenery.



“The slender stem serves as the spine of the structure and the cables linking the building to the ground are reminiscent of the delicate ribbing of the lily’s leaves,”said Calatrava’s firm. “The structure also provides a beacon of light at night, with lighting that will emphasize the flower-bud design of the building.” “The design has clear reference to the classic art from the past and the culture of the place while serving as a great technological achievement. In my whole career, I have perceived technology as a vehicle to beauty and to art. This project envisages an artistic achievement in itself, inspired by the idea of welcoming people, not only from Dubai and the UAE, but from the entire world. It is a symbol of an abiding belief in progress.”


What do I think of this building? It’s a sleek and a slender design, something that is non-typical to present skyscraper’s architecture. However, I wonder how can the huge long cables work to anchor this building to the ground? Is that possible with this height? How can the huge windows at the top floors withstand the extremely strong wind at that level? On the other hand, I’m actually bored of seeing plants and trees inside building again…it’s a popular trend now but isn’t usually successful. Not that excited to this tower except for its mysterious height.

(Images and information in this post are from the following source:


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.










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)


Emporis Skyscraper Award 2014.

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2015 by vincentloy

The annual Emporis Skyscraper Award is back. If you have a particular interest in skyscrapers like me, then you should probably know the existence of this award. Emporis is a large database famous for its collection of information and photographs of highrise buildings across the world. The company also stored data of low-rise buildings and other man-made structures. Its skyscraper award which is one of the world’s most renowned architectural prize for skyscrapers is presented out annually to honour buildings with architectural excellence.

For this year’s award, the winning buildings must be completed in the previous calendar year (2014) and shall be of at least 100 metres high. The winner of the 2014 Emporis Skyscraper Award is Wangjing SOHO building located in Beijing, China. Chosen from over 300 skyscrapers built in 2014, Wangjing SOHO emerged as the prestigious winner.  The complex consisting of three unique skyscrapers with a height of 118 meter, 127 meter and 200 meter each, impressed the jury by its excellent energy efficiency and its distinctive design, which gives the complex a harmonious and organic momentum. The soft and fluid forms were designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, making Wangjing SOHO an architectural landmark of the metropolis Beijing. This complex of buildings do really look spectacular and very futuristic-looking. Zaha Hadid is always good in producing this kind of designs. Her style…



Second-placed Bosco Verticale (“vertical forest”), however, stands out through its “green” architecture, which marks a milestone in the field of sustainable construction. The facade and balconies of the two towers designed by Boeri Studio are covered with more than 700 trees and 90 different species of plants, which help to reduce smog and attenuate noise, while simultaneously producing oxygen and controlling the temperature inside the 105 meter and 78 meter tall towers.



The expert jury voted Tour D2 in Courbevoie into third place. Its elegant shape is defined by an external diagrid structure that spans the 171 meter tall oval tower in full height: The extravagant diamond design gives the skyscraper its characteristic appearance and makes the facade sparkle in the sunlight. On the roof, the steel mesh merges together to form an imposing dome above what is called the “Cloud Garden”, a 500m2 large green oasis in the heart of the business center.



Here’s below is the full list of Top 10 skyscrapers voted for Emporis Skyscraper Award 2014:

emporis award 2014

Although often represented in the Top Ten, Wangjing SOHO is the first time China manages to take the crown, since the Emporis Skyscraper Award was established in the year 2000 (fifteen years ago). Surprisingly there is not a single Canadian building among the winners this year, even with Toronto being one of the cities with the most new high-rise and skyscraper projects. Nevertheless, there is cause for celebration for North America: After the United States – the cradle of high-rise architecture – had been left empty handed two years in a row, this year two projects from New York made it into the Top Ten of the sought-after architecture prize. The iconic One World Trade Center made it to the list. I’m also surprised that my country, Malaysia made it into the Top 10 list too this time around with KKR Tower placed at No.10. It is a twisting (but the degree of twisting is not much disappointingly) office building located in my city, Kuala Lumpur. (image below)


I guess my city’s newly completed Ilham Baru Tower (274 metres tall and to be finished by this year) will be able to shine in this award next year. When choosing the winners, height records hardly play any role. Hence, only three “supertalls” (skyscrapers with a height of at least 300m) made it to the Top Ten this year. Instead of following the principle of “Bigger, Higher, Faster”, the jury put its emphasis on other qualities: “The results of recent years clearly show that criteria such as sustainability, efficiency and a clever design play a much more important role than reaching new superlatives”, says Daniel Schuldt, Emporis’ managing director.

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

(Information source: