AD Interviews: Benton Johnson / SOM

Inside the Wood Pavilion at this year’s AIA Convention, we had the chance to chat with Benton Johnson of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) about SOM’s research on using wood for highrise buildings. Although wood is a sustainable and efficient material, it hasn’t entered the world of skyscraper construction yet. However, through their Timber Tower Research Project, SOM has come up with a structural system for that uses mass timber as the main structural material and consequently minimizes the building’s carbon footprint.

“Architects should focus on using wood for these types of structures because we do think of it as the way of the future. Energy and resources are just going to become more and more important going forward, and mass timber technology has no way to go but up,” Johnson explains.

Five Buildings Compete to be Named “World’s Best Highrise”

Bosco Verticale, Milan / Boeri Studio. Image © Kirsten Bucher

Rem Koolhaas, Steven Holl, Jean Nouvel and Boeri Studio are the masters behind five skyscrapers competing to be crowned the “World’s best.” Chosen as finalists for the 2014 International Award (IHA), the four practices are in the running for a prestigious title and €50,000 prize.

Award organizers from the City of Frankfurt/Main, Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) and DekaBank at Frankfurt’s Paulskirche will announce a winner in mid-November. The chosen will be selected by an esteemed, multidisciplinary jury based on the criteria ranging from future-oriented design and innovative building technology, to the building’s integrative urban development scheme and cost-effectiveness.

“Good architecture requires a willingness to take risks and a desire to try things out. All the finalists took this approach – there can be no innovation without experimentation. Our shortlist comprises three different prototypes of the future,” commented Jury Chairman Christoph Ingenhoven.

View all five of the competing highrises and the jury’s comments, after the break… 

eVolo Skyscraper Competition 2014: A Skyscraper That Grows

Exterior Rendering. Image © YuHao Liu & Rui Wu

YuHao Li and Rui Wu were recently awarded third place in the 2014 eVolo Skyscraper Competition for their proposal of a that grows. Using ‘carbon capture’, an emerging practice aimed at capturing and containing greenhouse gases, Propagate Skyscraper uses a simple, vertical grid scaffold to act as a framework for building, or growing, the volumes. “Ingredients for material propagation” are supplied through the scaffold, while its actual pattern of growth is defined by environmental factors (such as prevailing wind and the saturation of carbon dioxide within the immediate atmosphere). Although each resulting structure is distinct in formal expression, the structure maintains a regular spatial organisation, allowing it to be easily occupied and adapted.

A Vertical City for Suburban Detroit Places in eVolo Skyscraper Competition

© Daniel Markiewicz & Mark Talbot

CAR and SHELL or Marinetti’s Monster, recently awarded second place in the 2014 eVolo Skyscraper Competition, asks pertinent questions about an “insatiable” desire for growth in urban centres. Based on the premise that we “can no longer stand idly by and watch our cities consume themselves with an anxious need for expansion”, Daniel Markiewicz and Mark Talbot’s proposal seeks to demonstrate what a “city in the sky” could look like in suburban DetroitThe project is conceived as a vertical neighbourhood, or ”a rich vertical urban fabric.” Three main grids (streets, pedestrian pathways, and structure) are intertwined to create a box-shaped wireframe to which traditional/contemporary houses and other diverse programs (such as recreational and commercial areas) can be plugged in.

eVolo Skyscraper Winner 2014 Transforms Korean ‘Hanok’ Into Impressive High-Rise

Visualisation. Image © Yong Ju Lee

Vernacular Versatility, recently awarded first place in the 2014 eVolo Skyscraper Competition, seeks to adapt traditional Korean architecture into a contemporary mixed-use high-rise. The vernacular design of the Hanok, the “antonym of a western house” and epitome of the Korean style, has disappeared from every town. Extensive urban development in the 1970s led to a boom in modern apartment dwellings and, consequently, a loss of established Korean vernacular architecture. Yong Ju Lee’s proposal aims to reimagine the Hanok in one of the country’s busiest districts, drawing people’s attention to and stimulating their interest in traditional architecture with the intention that “it will eventually be absorbed into people’s everyday lives”

“A Short History of the Highrise”

Oscar Niemeyer – Brasília, 1958. Image © Marcel Gautherot/IMS

The New York Times has published “A Short History of the Highrise” – an interactive that explores the 2,500-year global history of vertical living and issues of social equality in an increasingly urbanized world. Organized in four short films – “Mud,” “Concrete,” “,” and “Home” – viewers are given the option to “dig deeper” into each subject and explore additional archival material while viewing the film. Check out the film here.

2011 Skyscraper Trends

© TFP Farrells

Every January the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat conducts a review of skyscraper construction and compiles all the data from the previous year. The trend since 2007 has seen record breaking years for buildings taller than 200 meters completed, with 88 skyscrapers completed in 2011. Even as the global economy is slowly recuperating from the 2008 financial crisis, it would appear as though this trend will remain relatively stable. China, leading the pack at 23 completed towers is predicted to remain at the forefront of skyscraper market, followed by Middle Eastern countries in the next decade.  UAE, South Korea, and Panama City – an up and coming cosmopolitan city – rounded out the top four. Of the towers completed in 2011, 17 have made their way into the top 100 tallest buildings – Shenzhen’s Kingkey 100, at 442 meters crowning this year’s list. More after the break.