Los Angeles Rids Itself of Helipad Requirement, Opens City to “Bolder” Skyline

Los Angeles, . Image © Wikimedia Commons / Pintaric

Helicopter landing pads will no longer be required atop new buildings in Los Angeles, California. The rule’s elimination, which was announced yesterday by the city’s mayor and fire chief, allows architects the freedom to break away from LA’s “boxy” skyline. “I want to see innovative design,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “I want to see good design, but we’re going to take the handcuffs off of you when we ask you to do that. I want neighborhoods to look good, and I want our buildings to look iconic.” You can read more about the change, here.

In Defense of Rewarding Vanity Height

Center, the tallest building in the … arguably. Image © Joe Mabel via Wikipedia

Recently, ArchDaily editors received an interesting request from an anonymous Communications Director of an unnamed New York firm, asking us “In your reporting, please do not repeat as fact, or as “official,” the opinion that One World Trade Center in New York will be the tallest building in the United States.” He or she goes on to explain that the decision maker who ‘announced’ the building as the tallest in the US, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), is not officially endorsed by the AIA or the US Government, and that while their work is beneficial for architecture and cities as a whole, their criteria for height evaluation are flawed and have been criticized by many in the industry.

The desire to have the tallest building in a city, country or even the world goes back to at least the medieval period, when competing noble families of Italian hill towns such as San Gimignano would try to out-do each other’s best construction efforts (jokes about the Freudian nature of such contests are, I imagine, not much younger). Perhaps the greatest symbol of this desire is the decorative crown of the Chrysler Building, which was developed in secret and enabled the building to briefly take the prize as the world’s tallest, much to the surprise and ire of its competitors at the time.

With this competitive spirit apparently still very much alive, I thought it might be worthwhile to address the issue raised by our anonymous friend.

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 skyscraper will be selected by an esteemed, multidisciplinary jury based on the criteria ranging from future-oriented design and innovative building , 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… 

Construction Begins on Miami’s Tallest Tower

Courtesy of Skyrise

Construction has begun on Miami’s tallest tower: SkyRise Miami. Standing 305 meters above the Biscayne Bay, the waterfront tower will offer three viewing decks, a restaurant, nightclub, ballroom, exhibition space, and even the chance to bungee jump off its upper floors.

It’s designers, locally based arquitectonica, hope SkyRise will achieve LEED Gold upon completion in mid-2017.

Studio CTC Imagines Terraced Twin Skyscrapers in Hong Kong

©

Skyscrapers have developed a typical form language over the past century—many of them are large, rectangular, and sheathed in , but Studio CACHOUA TORRES CAMILLETTI is changing that. Working with the notion that even superstructures should be as varied as the cities they’re built in, the Mexican design firm has created a spectacular vision for a skyscraper in Hong Kong. With two curvilinear towers that support rice paddies on their terraces, the proposal includes cultural context in the very structure of the building.

Shanghai Tower Enters Final Stage of Construction

Climbing skyward, (center) is seen in Shanghai (July 2014), in the final stage of construction. Situated in Shanghai’s fast-growing Pudong District, is located adjacent to the Jin Mao Tower (left) and the Shanghai World Financial Center (right). Image © Nick Almasy Photography

After nearly eight years of design and construction, what will soon be ’s tallest and the world’s second tallest building has entered into its final phase of construction. Designed by Gensler, the 632-meter (2,073 feet) spiraling Shanghai Tower is now set to be completed in 2015, becoming the centerpiece of the city’s Lujiazui commercial district.

In light of the tower reaching its final phase of construction, Marshall Strabala, the Chief Architect of the building, has unveiled new photos of the construction process. Enjoy these photos as well as a video interview with Strabala on the construction process after the break…

How New Elevator Technology Will Allow Our Cities to Grow Even Taller

KONE UltraRope Elevator Shaft. Image Courtesy of Kone/Splash/Corbis

The sky is not always the limit when it comes to building vertically – rather, elevator technology is often the restricting factor when it comes to skyscraper height. With current , a single elevator can travel approximately 500m before the weight of the rope becomes unsupportable. This means that ascending a mile-high (1.6km) tower would require changing elevators up to 10 times. However, UltraRope, a recently unveiled technology by Finnish elevator manufacturer KONE, may change the heights of our cities. A new hoisting technology that will enable elevators to travel up to one kilometer, UltraRope doubles the distance that is currently possible.

In an article for The Guardian, “The new lift technology that will let cities soar far higher,” Rory Hyde looks at the current limitations of elevator technology, how its development over the years has shaped our cities and the impact that UltraRope could have skyscraper design. Read the whole piece, here.

The New York Times Asks: Are “Starchitects” Ruining City Skylines?

Hudson Yards, by Related Properties. Image Courtesy of Visualhouse

The idea of “star architects” or “starchitects” is, if nothing else, polemic. Frank Gehry has expressed his hatred for being labeled with the term, and in 2013 we received a letter from a reader urging us to ban the phrase as it “undermines serious discourse regarding architecture and urbanism.” Now, the “starchitect” debate has reached the opinion section of the New York Times.

Following recent comments by Witold Rybczynski that “starchitects” — often unfamiliar with the they are designing for — are designing buildings that don’t fit into their surroundings, the NYT has posed the question: Are superstar architects ruining city skylines? Weighing in on the topic are Allison Arieff, an architecture and design writer for the NYT, Vishaan Chakrabarti, an associate professor at Columbia and a partner at SHoP Architects, Angel Borrego Cubero, a Madrid-based architect, and the director and producer of “The Competition,” a documentary about architectural competitions, and Beverly Willis of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation.

SURE Wins Competition with “Endless City” Skyscraper

© SURE

Recently winning first place in a Skyscapers and SuperSkyscapers Competition, SURE Architecture has put forth a daring new proposition for a London skyscraper design. Their proposal, titled “The Endless City in Height,” does away with the traditional notion of stacking floors on top of each other. Rather, this innovative design incorporates two street-sized ramps that wind their way up the exterior of the tower, creating extensions of the city streetscape that rise and coil vertically into the skyline.

Designs Revealed of the Nordstrom Tower, the World’s Tallest Residential Building

Unofficial Rendering of Nordstrom Tower via YIMBY. Image © Otie O’Daniel

The designs of the Nordstrom Tower in New York, the world’s tallest residential building at 1,775 feet tall, have been revealed to New York YIMBY by an anonymous tipster close to the project. The project at 225 West 57th Street by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture will be one foot short of 1 World Trade Center, and with its 1,451 high roof will finally reclaim the title of ’ tallest roof from Chicago‘s Willis Tower.

More on the Nordstrom Tower after the break

VIDEO: Chicago’s Three Tallest Buildings Simultaneously Struck by Lightning

Lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place – or so goes the saying. But if you’ve ever watched a skyscraper in a storm, you probably know that this saying isn’t exactly true. What might be a little more rare is lightning striking three places at once, but thanks to this amazing timelapse video by Craig Shimala we now know that this too is possible, as the lightning rods on Chicago‘s Willis Tower, Trump Tower and John Hancock Center are all hit simultaneously (keep an eye out at the 36-second mark, and see the still image after the break). Perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that this is the second time Shimala has recorded this exact occurrence – you can also see his video from 2010 after the break.

Organic London Skyscraper Grows as Residents Recycle

Exterior View. Image Courtesy of Chartier Corbassons architectes

Inspired by vegetative growth and the bamboo scaffolding of Asia, Thomas Corbasson and VS-A have proposed a conceptual project for an organic skyscraper for London that will incorporate waste produced by its occupants. The building will rise vertically as more and more of the glass and paper needed for construction is discarded by building residents. It is estimated that enough recycled material for the building’s façade could be produced within a year. The project earned a special mention in a recent Skyscapers and SuperSkyscapers Competition.

The 10 Tallest Buildings Ever Demolished

Savoy-Plaza Hotel, . Image © Wikimedia

The following list of the ten tallest buildings ever demolished, by Michael Aynsley, was originally published on BuzzBuzzHome.

Before we get to the countdown, a caveat: this list only considers buildings that were demolished on purpose by their owners. If it included all tall structures that are no longer standing, number one, two and four would be occupied by the three buildings tragically destroyed on September 11th, 2001.

Revised Design Unveiled for Toronto’s Mirvish+Gehry Towers

Courtesy of Mirvish Enterprises, Gehry Partners, LLP and Projectcore Inc.

Frank Gehry and Developer David Mirvish have revealed the latest design iteration in their embattled plan to build a set of mixed-use skyscrapers in Toronto. The new design reduces the number of towers, from three to two, however the remaining towers are taller than before, with one at 82 stories and one at 92.

The buildings will house apartments, a new art gallery and space for OCAD University as previously planned, but the decision to use two towers instead of three means that three of the five existing buildings can be retained – including the Princess of Wales Theatre, and two designated heritage warehouses – sidestepping some of the criticisms of the previous scheme.

Read on after the break for Frank Gehry’s take on the design

CTBUH Names Its Winners for Best Tall Building 2014

Cayan Tower / . Image © Tim Griffith /

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has announced the regional winners of its 2014 Best Tall Building award. Chosen from a selection of 88 nominees, the four winning buildings will go on to compete for the Best Tall Building Worldwide Award, due to be announced in December.

The winners and finalists this year show significant diversity in form, function and philosophy; normally low-rise typologies such as education, green buildings, renovations and boundary-pushing shapes have all made the list. Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang and Chair of the jury, said: “The submissions this year… reflect the dawning of a global recognition that tall buildings have a critical role to play in a rapidly changing climate and urban environment.”

Read on after the break for the full list of winners and finalists

VIDEO: 3D Printing San Francisco’s Future Skyline

The skyline of San Francisco is in the process of significant transformation. Projects such as OMA‘s 550-foot residential tower, as well as developments in the pipeline from Foster + Partners and Studio Gang, are sure to change the city dramatically – thankfully, the 3D printed model in this video is there to show exactly how. The 6×6 foot model shows 115 blocks of downtown San Francisco as it will appear in 2017, and was created by visualization company Steelblue and Autodesk. Claimed to be the largest 3D printed model of a city in the world, it can show much more than just how San Francisco’s downtown will look: overlaid projections can show the status of each building, projected traffic patterns and more. Furthermore, each block is individually replaceable to keep the model up to date. Watch the video, and find out more about the model through this article from SFGate.

London Skyline Debate Taken to City Hall

The Norman Foster-designed City Hall with the Shard in the background. Image © Flickr CC User alh1

The debate over the future of London‘s Skyline stepped up a gear on Tuesday, as the issue was taken up by the London Assembly’s Planning Committee in City Hall. The London Assembly is an elected watchdog which is tasked with examining the decisions and actions of London’s mayor, and is expected to apply pressure to mayor Boris Johnson over the issue of skyscrapers in the capital.

The committee heard from leading architectural figures in London including former RIBA president Sunand Prasad (of Penoyre & Prasad), English Heritage planning and conservation director for London Nigel Barker and former City planning officer Peter Rees.

More on the London Assembly debate after the break

How Safe Are Glass Skyscrapers Really?

The ’s Glass Balcony. Image Courtesy of Jared Newman, DesignCrave.com

Imagine standing on a glass platform with Chicago 1300 feet directly below. Suddenly, the glass holding you begins to crack. This actually happened to Alejandro Garibay at the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) just last week. Luckily, Garibay wasn’t hurt, but the occurrence begs the question: how safe is glass - the most common material used in skyscrapers nowadays - really? Karrie Jacobs At Fast Company – Design, asked materials experts to find out “The Truth Behind Building With Glass.”