Four Skyscrapers Named Regional “Best Tall Buildings” for 2011

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitatannounced the winners of its annual“Best Tall Building” awards for 2011. These awards recognize outstanding tall buildings from each of four geographical regions, and this year are awarded to:”New York by Gehry” at Eight Spruce Street, New York (Americas); Guangzhou International Finance Center, Guangzhou (Asia& Australasia); KfW Westarkade, Frankfurt (Europe); and The Index, Dubai (Middle East& Africa). These buildings were selected for their design and technical innovations, sustainable attributes, and the enhancement of both cities and the lives of their inhabitants.

Awards Committee Chairman Richard Cook, of Cook + Fox Architects, said about this year’s entries:“Not only has this been a record-breaking year for the Best Tall Building Awards in terms of the number of buildings submitted, the quality overall is perhaps the best we have seen. There were very strong contenders for the winner in each regional category, and several projects would, I’m sure, have been winners in other years.”

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Best Tall Building Americas: Eight Spruce Street (New York, USA)

The façade of“New York by Gehry” at Eight Spruce Street, designed to create a draping fabric-like quality, creates a unique signature, while holding itself as very much a“New York” building grounded in its traditional setback rules. The façade is partly a result of the client’s desire to have bay windows in each residential unit. The windows are shifted from floor-to-floor and vary in size, creating the drape-like effect. Inside, the residential units are arranged to efficiently marry the plan to the façade. 2011 Awards Chair Rick Cook noted that“the tower invigorates a part of Manhattan that has been somewhat overlooked in recent years, and as the Tallest All-Residential Building in North America, adds significantly to the urban-population and diversification of its neighborhood.”

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Best Tall Building Asia& Australasia: Guangzhou International Finance Center (Guangzhou, China)

The slender crystalline form of the Guangzhou International Finance Center is both elegant and clean. Each of the three façades of the curved triangular plan are also gently curved in section, set out asymmetrically with the widest point at a third of the height, tapering to its narrowest point at the top. The building’s aerodynamic form reduces the impact of wind at height, thereby reducing the necessary size and weight of the structure. The building utilizes the world’s tallest constructed diagrid structure, whose inherent stif ness resists acceleration and sway, eliminating the need for damping. Awards juror Antony Wood added,“the building has an elegant simplicity in both form and structure, with the diagrid giving depth, strength and character to the building. It is also great to see the British adept at designing supertall buildings!”

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Best Tall Building Europe: KfW Westarkade (Frankfurt, Germany)

Already being touted as one of the most energy-efficient office buildings in the world, KfW Westarkade is projected to use approximately half the energy of an average European office building, and one-third of a US-based one. The building addresses the prevailing wind direction to exploit it for controlled natural ventilation of the offices by means of its double-layered façade, which allows for the building to be naturally ventilated eight months out of the year. Awards Juror Peter Murray noted that“the streamlined form integrates itself into its surrounding context, while simultaneously standing out through the playful use of color. Whereas many buildings use color as a way to mask an otherwise unremarkable building, here it contributes an additional rich layer to what is already a remarkable building.”

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Best Tall Building Middle East& Africa: The Index (Dubai, UAE)

A long but narrow profile houses the mixed residential-overoffice functions of this tower within a coherent but well articulated form. The floors are supported by four A-frame concrete“fins,” revealing the building’s structural system and internal organization. The building is oriented to reduce solar gain, and employs a system of sunshades on the exposed south elevation. The building takes a particularly interesting approach at its base, with only its structural fins and cores coming all the way to the ground, while the rest of the space opens up in an open-air shaded atrium with large pools which create a cool micro-climate around the tower’s entrances. Awards Juror Werner Sobek noted that“the Index presents a new environmental icon for the Middle East, showcasing important passive strategies of orientation, core placement and shading.”

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