Click a presenter to see a video of their presentation, and the accompanying paper and PowerPoint presentation.
Principal, Alchemy Properties
Senior Partner, FXCollaborative
Principal, Riverside Investment & Development
Chairman, Co-CEO, Goettsch Partners
Principal, JDS Development
Principal, SHoP Architects
Executive President & Owner, Uribe & Schwarzkopf
founder principal, Leppanen + Anker Arquitectos
The projects vying for the Best Tall Building Americas session squared off in session 2A, which was chaired by Zurich Esposito, Executive Vice President, AIA Chicago.
Presented by Joel Breitkopf, Principal, Alchemy Properties, and Daniel Kaplan, Senior Partner, FXCollaborative, the 35XV project in New York City arose out of a need for the Xavier High School to expand on a tight mid-block site in the Chelsea neighborhood. The high school was able to use its air rights to facilitate its own expansion as well as finance that expansion by way of a mixed-use condominium / educational development. The ultimate solution became 35XV, a 25-floor building that stepped back from the street, while cantilevering over the school grounds on the rear of the site. The project introduced numerous challenges, especially around separating the very different usage conditions of the program and providing distinct but contextually appropriate entrances.
“When we think of mixed-use high-rises, it’s usually a commercial function mix such as office and hotel, but this is truly a community facility at the bottom and residential above,” said Kaplan. “The city got an interesting form on the skyline; the high school that was bursting at the seams got much-needed and generous space, and money in their pockets. A lot of institutions are land-rich and cash poor, and this is a way for them to change that. The developer got high-end apartments that start 110 feet (33.5 meters) above the ground plane.”
Difficult site conditions also ruled the day at 150 North Riverside, an office building in Chicago that was presented by Anthony Scacco, Executive Vice President, Riverside Investment & Development, and James Goettsch, CEO & Partner, Goettsch Partners. The site is located prominently at the confluence of the three branches of the Chicago River and less than one block away from one of Chicago's busiest commuter train stations. With exposed railroad tracks on the west side of the site and the city requirement for a riverside pedestrian path on the east side, the remaining area on which to build was considered impossibly narrow, and the site sat undeveloped for decades.
Utilizing a unique core-supported structure with a very small footprint at grade, the design resolved the site challenges and provided a 51-story Class A office tower with efficient, column-free floor plates. Some of the engineering feats that made this possible included one of the largest I-beams ever constructed, to carry the project over live tracks, and a 20:1 aspect ratio for the core, supporting 45-foot (13.7-meter) lease spans without any perimeter columns reaching the ground.
As there was practically no laydown site available, “we fully fabricated all of the trusses on the shop floor of the fabricator’s facility,” Scacco noted.
The slimness of the building meant that 75 percent of the site became a usable public space, delivering extra value to the surrounding properties, as well as for the developer, he added.
Another riverside site formed the conditions for New York’s American Copper Buildings, a pair of “leaning,” copper-clad apartment towers connected by a skybridge. Presented by Simon Koster, Principal, JDS Development, and Gregg Pasquarelli, Principal, SHoP Architects, the American Copper Buildings offer 761 units alongside the East River, 20 percent of which are set at affordable rates in notoriously expensive Manhattan. The unusual profile of the towers, which appear to “dance” and “kiss” where they join, invigorates the sometimes-unloved East River frontage, Koster noted. That same unusual structural gesture made bidding the job difficult.
“No one wanted to build it, so we started our own construction company,” Koster said.
“Instead of having two separate buildings with two separate amenity packages, we said, ‘let’s celebrate this new community and bring it together across this skybridge,’” Pasquerelli said. The common amenities for both towers – including a swimming pool that allows one to swim from one tower to the other – are located in the skybridge. It also serves as a conduit for mechanical equipment, freeing rooftop space on one of the towers for more amenities.
As to the choice of copper for cladding, “We really believe in using historic materials, but using technology to fabricate and deliver them in contemporary ways,” Pasquerelli said. The idea was that the copper would patinate over time from the color of a shiny penny, to a chocolate brown, to a green like that of the Statue of Liberty. That could take anywhere from 15 to 50 years, “which would give me something to live for – waiting for my tower to turn green,” Pasquerelli said.
He did not have to wait as long for validation of the project’s concept – American Copper Buildings won the 2018 Best Tall Building Americas Award.
The entry of the Gaia Building in the race was significant, not only for its design originality, but for being the first building from Ecuador ever to enter the CTBUH Awards program. Presented by Gabriela Anker, Principal and Cofounder, Leppanen + Anker Arquitectos, the Gaia Building is remarkable for using glass fiber-reinforced concrete (GFRC) panels on its exterior, giving it a contoured form that echoed the intensity of the Quito neighborhood in which it sits, as well as numerous well-shaded and unusually shaped balconies and overhangs.
Anker conceived of Gaia as a symbol of the increasing densification and rise of the middle class in Quito. As such, it blazed new trails for the country. It was the first building to use GFRC panels and the first to be designed using parametric software, said Anker. “For us to do our design the way we wanted to, we had to do a new material,” Anker said. “We wanted to push the practice of architecture in Ecuador. The fact that it got built at all is a sign of the success of that effort.”
The winner of 2018 Award for Best Tall Building Americas was the American Copper Buildings