Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
IIT and University of Nottingham Design Collaboration

During the last week of March 2009, the CTBUH and the Illinois Institute of Technology, College of Architecture hosted a delegation from the University of Nottingham, School of the Built Environment as part of a tall building design studio collaboration. The visit was organized to facilitate knowledge exchange and interaction between the students from the two universities.

Collaboration between the University of Nottingham & IIT     Collaboration between University of Nottingham and IIT
Students from the Illinois Institute of Technology and University of Nottingham discuss each other's tall building design work in Crown Hall, Chicago

Nottingham and IIT have enjoyed a strong relationship for several years now, with the two institutions both having a strong interest in high-rise design, and both being centers of tall building excellence in their respective countries. The tall building studio at Nottingham was initiated in 2002 by CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood and since 2006 has been run by David Nicholson-Cole. The plan is to expand the Nottingham studio in 2009 into a Masters course in Sustainable Tall Building Design. IIT on the other-hand has a long tradition of tall building education stretching back many decades to Mies van der Rohe, and several high-rise design studios with different themes are offered to the students there each year. This semester has provided the first opportunity for studios to be run in parallel on opposite sides of the Atlantic at both Nottingham and IIT.

The two collaborating projects are based on sites in very different parts of the world; The IIT project, run by Antony Wood and entitled ‘Tall & Green: The Remaking of Mumbai’, is based in the ‘C-Ward’ district of Mumbai – an incredibly dense neighborhood, with a historic urban grain consisting of mostly 5-6 storey buildings separated by narrow streets. The Nottingham studio, entitled ‘The Vertical Community’ on the other-hand is based in the Leamouth region of London, England, on a semi-vacant peninsular just east of the tall building cluster of Canary Wharf. From a climatic, cultural and socio-political point of view then, the two projects are confronting many very different challenges.

Leamouth, London     C-Ward, Mumbai
Site of the Nottingham University tall building studio: Leamouth, London
Site of the Illinois Institute of Technology tall building studio: The C-Ward, Mumbai

Despite these differences, both projects share a host of similarities that has made collaboration between the students a constructive and fruitful experience. The urban vision of both studios consists of a network of towers, linked together by skybridges at height, creating a new public domain in the sky; both projects aim to accommodate predominantly residential functions but also incorporate a variety of alternative agendas such as vertical farming, education, waste and water within the designs. Both projects are also based on real-life redevelopment, with the Remaking of Mumbai Federation considering tall buildings to improve urban standards in the C-Ward of Mumbai, and the Leamouth site in London being developed by Ballymore Properties and designed as a series of residential towers by Skidmore Owings and Merrill.

IIT Urban Vision Concept Render

IIT Development Model IIT Development Model
Render of the proposed urban vision for the C-Ward, Mumbai (top) and tall building development models, Illinois Institute of Technology studio

As such then, students from Nottingham arrived at IIT in March, to take part in the Mumbai studio ‘interim critiques’ held in Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Crown Hall. Also in attendance to offer their opinions were Sagree Sharma (Arup), Greg Lakota and Carrie Warner (Halvorson & Partners) and CTBUH staff members. The Nottingham students fully engaged in all aspects of the critiques, offering advice from their own experiences and created a vibrant exchange of information on all aspects of tall building design.  An impromptu pin-up of some of the Nottingham tall building studio work allowed IIT students to also offer their advice in return.

In addition to their visit to IIT, Nottingham students enjoyed a variety of other experiences during their week in Chicago – these included visits to the marketing offices of the Chicago Spire and The Legacy and tours of the offices of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Gensler and Skidmore Owings and Merrill, as well as visits to some of the Chicago landmarks– the Sears Tower, Hancock Tower, Millennium Park, etc…

University of Nottingham, Interim Work

University of Nottingham, Interim Work

Tall building development work, University of Nottingham studio

The final design work from both studios promises to be both exciting and challenging, and as always, the CTBUH will present the projects from both institutions via our website, newsletter and journal. In addition, the work of the ‘Tall & Green: The Remaking of Mumbai’ studio will be displayed at IIT’s ‘Open House’ exhibition on the evening of Friday May 15th, which is free and open to the public.