Florida/Caribbean Architect - Fall 2013 - (Page 9)
Editorial / Diane D. Greer
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Diane D. Greer
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The projects selected for design awards this year range from a very small zen retreat
designed by Carl Abbott, FAIA, to Arquitectonica's 50-story glass towers in Shanghai.
There were few winners this year, relative to past years, particularly in the unbuilt category. I regret that no research/theoretical project captured the interest of the jury. In the
past, theoretical and research-related projects have been intriguing, even if not buildable.
Several of the Awards for Excellence went to large-scale projects, and all, unless out-ofthe-country, were in South Florida.
On the subject of tall buildings, the online newsletter DesignIntelligence update published an article in September 2013 titled "The Advantages and Disadvantages of Building
Tall." The question of "how tall is too tall?" was answered by the author of the article,
Adrian Smith, FAIA. No one is better qualiﬁed to make that assessment than Smith, who
ran SOM's Chicago ofﬁce for nearly half a century. A Senior Fellow of the Design Future's
Council, Smith recently collaborated with his current partner Gordon Gill on the world's
ﬁrst Zero-Energy skyscraper. At more than 1000 meters high, the Kingdom Tower in
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is now under construction. When completed, it will be the world's
next tallest building. The Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has reported that of "the 59 super tall towers built in the last 20 years, all but three are outside
the U.S. Fifty-six more are currently under construction in China."
So, why build tall? The United States Census Bureau has estimated that in 2013, the
number of people living on earth reached 7.115 billion and it is growing at 1.16 percent per year. Three countries, the United States, China and India, comprise more than
40 percent of the current world population, a population that, according to Smith, is
urbanizing at an alarming rate reaching the 50 percent mark this year. "The pressure to
build tall," he says, "is great." But, how tall is too tall? Clearly, the technology exists to
go up a mile and there is considerable interest in building a mile-high tower in the near
future. Even Wright had such a vision. But, the answer to that question depends a lot on
the ego and the pocketbook of the person desiring to build tall. Such a building would
have the obvious limiting factor of initial cost and then the need to ﬁll nearly 10 million
square feet of usable space. But the construction of such an ediﬁce would bring instant
recognition - dare I say fame - to the developer, the designer and possibly the city that
welcomed it. But can the environment sustain a building with a footprint the size of three
city blocks in downtown Chicago?
Smith is researching ways to improve the typology's carbon performance. But he
summarizes the discussion of "how tall is too tall" by saying, "tall is not the total answer
for our future, nor is a low, spread out, low-density environment. Society needs a balance
between the two that can meet the needs of a growing population and reduce the effects
that housing that population has on the earth's limited resources."
Architects will have to deal with issues previously unimagined, as very tall buildings
become the typology of the future. As these buildings rise from the ground, they are impressive and, often, awe-inspiring, as with Arquitectonica's award-winning Agricultural
Bank and Construction Bank of China Headquarters in Shanghai.
Regardless of the size of the project, congratulations to all of this year's design and
honor award winners.
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florida/caribbean ARCHITECT | fall 2013
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Florida/Caribbean Architect - Fall 2013
President’s Perspective / Dan Kirby, AIA, AICP, LEED AP
Editorial / Diane D. Greer
Awards for Excellence in Architecture
Test of Time Awards
Committee on Technology and the Environment (COTE) Award
COTE Sustainable Design Award
Florida/Caribbean Architect - Fall 2013