The “Talking Tall” feature involves prominent professionals discussing their personal vision on our future and what role tall buildings play or share their professional insights on topical matters.

China Zun: Beijing’s New Icon, 2018’s Tallest

CTBUH Journal 2019 Issue I

At 528 meters, China Zun was the tallest building completed in 2018, and became the new tallest building in Beijing. It is the anchor of a 30-hectare new central business district (CBD) established on the east side of the city, where more than 20 buildings of 150 to 350 meters’ height will ultimately rise. CTBUH Editor Daniel Safarik interviewed Wuren Wang of CITIC HEYE Investment Co. Ltd., on the eve of this significant occasion.

Towering Aspirations in Dubai and Beyond

CTBUH Journal 2018 Issue IV

In 2008, CTBUH held its Eighth World Congress in Dubai, at which time the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, was still under construction. His Excellency Mohamed Ali Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties, took the stage to address the conference. Ten years later, CTBUH now returns to Dubai for its International Conference on the theme “Polycentric Cities.” CTBUH Editor Daniel Safarik interviews Mr. Alabbar on the occasion of this anniversary.

Engineering a Better Future

CTBUH Journal 2018 Issue III

Aine Brazil, Vice Chairman, Thornton Tomasetti, is the recipient of the 2018 CTBUH Fazlur R. Khan Medal. Through a 40-plus-year career, she has been responsible for the design and construction of some of the most significant high-rise buildings in the United States, and globally. She also started a mentorship program at her firm to help women grow their careers, and founded a scholarship program at her alma mater, the National University of Ireland, to provide financial support to young women pursuing engineering degrees. CTBUH Editor Daniel Safarik interviewed Brazil on the occasion of receiving her award at the 2018 CTBUH Tall + Urban Innovation Conference.

Planning for a Taller London

CTBUH Journal, 2018 Issue II

In the past decade, London has grappled with growing pains and critical questions about how its urban landscape should be developed. More than 200 buildings of 20 stories or greater were approved or under construction by the end of the Boris
Johnson mayoralty. This provoked a strong reaction from a broad spectrum of the community, which founded the Skyline Campaign in 2014 to call for a sensible, managed approach to development that would balance priorities of development, preservation, equity and urban character. In May 2016, Sadiq Khan became the new Mayor of London, and made the review of the London Plan, the strategic document directing the city’s development, a key objective of his administration, with impact on many of these issues. The New London Plan is out for public consultation through autumn 2018, and scheduled to be in force by 2019, until 2046.
The CTBUH Journal’s Editor, Daniel Safarik, interviewed Jules Pipe, London’s Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, the lead person in the new administration responsible for the revision of the London Plan.

Nation-Building, Singapore-Style: Better Living Through Density

CTBUH Journal, 2018 Issue I

Dr. Cheong Koon Hean was the first woman to receive the Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award from CTBUH, in 2016. As the CTBUH Awards program expands into the Tall + Urban Innovation Conference in 2018 and a new CTBUH Technical Guide on urban spaces is released, featuring Marina Bay and many other successful urban developments, editor Daniel Safarik caught up with Dr. Cheong to look back upon the trails she blazed and the future she envisions.

Humanizing the High-Rise

CTBUH Journal, 2017 Issue IV

The under-design Quay Quarter Tower will create a stunning new building on the Sydney skyline that sets new benchmarks in office tower design globally and creates an exemplary international commercial address. The antithesis of the prevailing belief that high-rises are generic and non-contextual, Quay Quarter Tower is the key to a newly activated public domain at Circular Quay – the front door to Sydney’s CBD. Comprising a stack of vertical villages, breaking down the scale into smaller, more intimate social environments for social interaction and collaboration, the project is a transformation of an existing 1970s office block into a vision of the future of contextual skyscraper design. CTBUH Editor Daniel Safarik spoke with the lead designer, Kim Nielsen, of 3XN Architects.

Birds, Planes and Bio-Blitzes

CTBUH Journal, 2017 Issue III

Having designed the 262-meter Aqua in Chicago, which completed in 2009, Jeanne Gang, principal and founder of Studio Gang Architects, received considerable attention for what was then the tallest building ever designed by a woman-led firm. The significance of her work extends far beyond this, as the head of one of the most innovative and research-focused practices working in the tall building industry today. Daniel Safarik, CTBUH Editor, spoke with Gang for her long-overdue Talking Tall interview.

Modular High-Rise: The Next Chapter

CTBUH Journal, 2017 Issue II

In 2016, 461 Dean Street, the world’s tallest volumetric modular building, was completed in New York City (see Figure 1). As few such projects had ever been attempted, let alone in a construction market with New York’s constraints, the project’s developer, Forest City, and contractor, Skanska, formed a joint modular manufacturing venture to assure the predictable delivery of the 930 modular units that make up the building. Full Stack Modular is a new company that has taken the assets and lessons from that project and plans to scale it up into a global business. Full Stack’s CEO, Roger Krulak, outlined his plans in an interview with CTBUH Editor Daniel Safarik.

Fusing History and Height in Modern China

CTBUH Journal, 2017 Issue I

Albert Chan is the Director of Development Planning and Design at Shui On Land, based in Shanghai. Shui On Land is the developer of several successful “Tiandi” (“heaven and earth”) mixed-use projects throughout China. Its Wuhan Tiandi project recently won the 2016 CTBUH Global Urban Habitat Award. Chan has previously served on the CTBUH China Awards Jury and has recently joined the CTBUH Advisory Board. In this interview with CTBUH Journal Editor Daniel Safarik, Chan discusses his development philosophy and thoughts on the urban habitat.

Megacities: Design Challenges and Responses

CTBUH Journal, 2016 Issue IV

As this issue and the International Conference are focused on the megacity phenomenon, this edition of Talking Tall features two people who have designed tall buildings, large projects, and entire urban areas in some of the world’s largest and most critical megacities. Scott Duncan and Philip Enquist, both at SOM, spoke with CTBUH Journal Editor Daniel Safarik on the big issues that will face city-makers in the coming century.

Engineering China’s Skylines

CTBUH Journal, 2016 Issue III

Dasui Wang, China Design Master and chief structural engineer for East China Architectural Design Institute (ECADI), is the recipient of the inaugural CITAB – CTBUH China Tall Building Outstanding Achievement Award. Wang has committed his life’s work to designing the structural engineering solutions behind some of China’s and the world’s outstanding tall buildings. His long list of projects includes the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, CCTV New Headquarters, Tianjin International Financial Center, Shanghai World Financial Center, and Shanghai Tower. Wang sat with CTBUH Journal Editor Daniel Safarik to talk about his 52-year career and the tremendous amount of change he has seen during this time.

Local Context and Global Workflows: Designing Tall for Today and Beyond

CTBUH Journal, 2016 Issue III

The work of HENN Architects is reflective of the themes of both the previous CTBUH Conference Global Interchanges (New York, 2015) and the upcoming Cities to Megacities (Shenzhen, 2016). The Berlin-based firm is perhaps best known for its AutoTurme 1 & 2, glass-enclosed car elevators at the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany completed in 2000. But the firm has steadily found tall building work around the world, in the burgeoning megacities of China and in more unusual places, such as Ethiopia. CTBUH Journal Editor Daniel Safarik spoke with Martin Henn, Design Director and Partner, HENN Architects, for an insight into how individual originality, economic imperatives, and local relevance can all be maintained in the contemporary global high-rise.

The Power of the Crowd Rises

CTBUH Journal, 2016 Issue I

The 67-story, 240-meter BD Bacatá skyscraper in Bogotá architecturally topped out in September 2015, and is on track to become the city’s tallest building. Most remarkable, however, is the way it was financed – BD Bacatá is the world’s first “crowdfunded” skyscraper. Through an Internet platform called Prodigy Network, more than 3,500 Colombian individual investors hold shares in the project, and some have already seen returns of more than 40%. The founder of Prodigy Network, Colombian native Rodrigo Niño, spoke to CTBUH Journal Editor Daniel Safarik about the inspiration and future plans for the New York-based real-estate crowdfunding platform.

Gaining Momentum at Hudson Yards

CTBUH Journal, 2015 Issue IV

Hudson Yards is the largest private real estate development ever undertaken in the United States. The site, built over a working rail yard, will eventually hold more than 1.57 million square meters of commercial and residential space, with five office towers, public space, retail, a school, and 5,000 residential units. CTBUH Journal Editor Daniel Safarik spoke to Jay Cross, President of Hudson Yards, a joint venture between the Related Companies and Oxford Properties, to get a better sense of the developers’ perspective on this massive project.

Myth-busting: The Incredible “Shrinking” Washington Monument

CTBUH Journal, 2015 Issue III

In February 2015, the Washington Monument “shrunk” almost 10 inches (248 millimeters), when the United States National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS) used CTBUH height criteria to determine the true architectural height of the famous cenotaph. As part of a dialogue with CTBUH, NGS used precise instrumentation to determine that the height of the structure was 554 feet, 7 11/32 inches tall (169.046 meters) instead of 555 feet, 5 1/8 inches (169.294 meters) as previously recorded. When the data was released around the President’s Day holiday, the report was widely circulated in the media. CTBUH Journal Editor Daniel Safarik interviewed Dru Smith, chief geodesist of the NGS, to investigate a little further into the specifics of the project.

The Vertical Garden City Grows Into the 21st Century

CTBUH Journal, 2015 Issue II

As host of the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tokyo is undertaking a major redevelopment effort, giving long-planned projects new energy under the political impetus of the games. At this auspicious time, Mori Building, the developer of the ARK Hills, Roppongi Hills, and Toranomon Hills tall building complexes, and the host of the inaugural CTBUH Japan Symposium, Vertical Habitat – Vision 2020 and Beyond, is in a strong position to shape the future urban landscape of the city. CTBUH Journal Editor Daniel Safarik interviewed Hiroo Mori, Executive Vice President, Mori Building, who has led the construction of several critical projects in Japan, as well as the Shanghai World Financial Center in China.

Taming Tall Buildings’ “Autistic” Tendencies

CTBUH Journal, 2015 Issue I

The CTBUH is actively expanding the “Urban Habitat” portion of its mission, which calls for tall buildings to be optimally integrated into human-scaled urban environments. KCAP Architects & Planners has offices in Rotterdam, Zurich, and Shanghai, and has extensive experience in urban master plans throughout Europe and Asia, as well as having designed numerous individual tall buildings in those contexts. These include the districts of HafenCity, Hamburg and Wijnhaven Island, Rotterdam, where KCAP’s Red Apple, a 2009 CTBUH Award-nominated tall building, is located.

From Block to Blob and Back Again

CTBUH Journal, 2014 Issue IV

United Network Studio (UN Studio) is a Dutch architecture firm founded in 1988 by Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos, which in the 2000s established offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong, partly to accommodate the firm’s increasing number of highly detailed and demanding tall building projects on the Asian continent. One of these projects, the Ardmore Residence in Singapore, was a finalist in this year’s CTBUH Best Tall Building Awards program.

Learning From 50 Years of Hong Kong Skybridges

CTBUH Journal, 2014 Issue III

Hongkong Land was instrumental in developing Hong Kong’s famous network of skybridges between buildings. CTBUH Editor Daniel Safarik spoke to James Robinson, Executive Director of Hongkong Land about the past, present, and future of skybridges.

Standing Out by Blending in: Tower Infinity

CTBUH Journal, 2014 Issue II

In September 2013, GDS Architects received planning approval for the 450-meter, US0 million Tower Infinity in Cheongna, South Korea, between Incheon International Airport and Seoul. The crystalline observation tower quickly got picked up by the world’s media as the “invisible” tower, due to its clever use of an array of LEDs and HD cameras built into the façade, which give the ability to become “almost invisible.” CTBUH Editor Daniel Safarik spoke to GDS principal Charles Wee about the plans for executing this audacious project.

The New Context of Tall

CTBUH Journal, 2014 Issue I

On the occasion of receiving the Best Tall Building Worldwide award at the 12th Annual CTBUH Awards Symposium and Dinner for CCTV Headquarters, Beijing, Rem Koolhaas, founding partner, Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), sat for an interview with Daniel Safarik, CTBUH Editor. Koolhaas was joined by David Gianotten, partner, OMA, who is intimately involved in the firm’s Asian projects.

“Joan of Architecture” and the Difficulty of Simplicity

CTBUH Journal, 2013 Issue IV

Phyllis Lambert, the daughter of the Seagram owner Samuel Bronfman, played an integral role in selecting Mies van der Rohe and Phillip Johnson to design the definitive International Style skyscraper, the Seagram Building.

Building Tall with Timber

CTBUH Journal, 2013 Issue III

CTBUH Editor Dan Safarik interviews Michael Green about the critical role wood will play as a practical and sustainable building material.

From “Dry and Safe” to “Tall and Sharp” / Owning an Icon

Irvine Sellar, Sellar Property

The owners of two of London’s most significant skyscrapers, Irvine Sellar of the Shard and Kent Gardner of the Gherkin, spoke with CTBUH about the challenges and rewards of building tall in a historic city.

Fast-growing Saudi Arabia Embraces Tall Buildings

CTBUH Journal, 2011 Issue I

Amid a rapidly changing cultural and economic landscape in Saudi Arabia, John Harris, co-head of Jones Lang LaSalle’s Saudi Arabia office, discusses the shifts in the market and the Kingdom’s growing interest in building tall.

One of the Architecture World’s Fast Rising Stars has BIG Plans for Designing Tall Buildings

CTBUH Journal, 2012 Issue IV

OMA alumnus Bjarke Ingels has made a name for his Bjarke Ingels Group with innovative, paradigm-busting projects that blend nature and functionality with new twists on traditional forms.

Insider’s View on Navigating Approval Process for Buildings in China

CTBUH Journal, 2012 Issue III

Brian Lee, lead designer for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, discusses the complexities of designing buildings in China and the challenges of the approval process.

The Skyscraper Index

CTBUH Journal, 2012 Issue II

The Skyscraper Index, which links tall building construction to economic cycles. The Index is based on the completion of the world’s tallest building, which is inevitably a marker for the start of a global economic crisis.

A Future for Tall Building History

CTBUH Journal, 2012 Issue I

Looking at Chicago’s or New York’s skylines, one feature that sets apart the first skyscraper cities from the recent ones is the rich history of tall building architecture. These first cities are now facing the issue of what to do with vintage skyscrapers.

The CTBUH Chairmanship

CTBUH Journal, 2011 Issue IV

Assuming the Chairman’s position in a not-for-profit organization is always an honorable matter, and especially so when that organization is focused on high-rise building.

The Global Impact of 9/11

CTBUH Journal, 2011 Issue III

Just as many Americans still remember exactly where they were when they heard the news that US president John F. Kennedy had been shot, most people will likely remember what they were doing on September 11, 2001.

So You Want a Tall Building?

CTBUH Journal, 2011 Issue II

Having devised tall building strategies for Rotterdam, Dublin and London, he is the kind of guy who is called in as cities start to think about adding tall buildings. As such, he has developed a broad expertise and an interesting set of opinions.

Ups and Downs in Russia

CTBUH Journal, 2011 Issue I

Faced with the possibility that his tallest project was to be shortened after it had been constructed to full height, Sergey Skuratov found himself making a defense that height is a substantial part of the architecture for one of the city’s tallest residential towers.


CTBUH Journal, 2010 Issue IV

This past decade, “student skyscrapers” have re-emerged at or near university campuses and city centers. As such, the vertical dorm is making a comeback after a construction drought which started in the early 1970s.

Greening Supertalls

Paul Rode, Johnson Controls

The world’s tallest buildings have always been more about expression rather than necessity or a solution to any problem. Being the visible landmarks that they are, these towers have represented the aspirations of those who commissioned them.

Interview: Winy Maas, MVRDV

CTBUH Journal, 2010 Issue II

The urban future of Chinese cities could take the shape of supersized parabolic structures in and around current cities. Imagine a range of various green hills with apartments and spacious terraces in the shell filled with industry and technology.