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Engineering in the Sky and the Urban Challenges of Verticality – Day 2

The challenges and opportunities of skyscraper cities

October 27, the second day of the CTBUH 2015 Conference, featured a rich and inspirational program in our host room in parallel to the main conference.

Engineering in the Sky

The morning session dedicated to New York’s super slender towers attracted a record attendance. Hezi Mena, Senior Vice President, Building Structures, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, USA presented on the structural engineering of 432 Park Avenue, the tallest building in New York City (measured by roof height) with a slenderness ratio of 1:15.

The solutions that he presented allowed for the building to have no interior columns, providing maximum architectural flexibility and unobstructed views, and improved structure stiffness. The tower includes a robust concrete core housing the elevators and all building services and acting as the spine of the building; a structural frame made of beams and columns; five outrigger levels providing connections between the exterior frame and the inner core; five double open floors to minimize the influence of vortex shedding; and two 650-ton tuned mass dampers.

Gary Pomerantz, Executive Vice President, Building Services, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, USA presented the building services design for the same tower including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, IT systems and security. Among the MEP design challenges caused by building height were hydraulic pressure, voltage drop, life safety, fire protection tanks, stack effect, vertical distribution and building shrinkage.

David Penick, Managing Director, Hines discussed risks that developers are facing in tall buildings projects as well as the complex process of obtaining air rights for 53W53 (MoMA) tower.

Dana Getman, Associate Principal, SHoP Architects, presented another slender New York building, 111 West 57th Street. She explained the architectural design featuring a beautiful facade with terra cotta panels and bronze ornaments.

The Urban Challenges of Verticality

The afternoon session brought together leading architects: Nick Jackson from Eric Parry Architects, Ken McBryde from Hassell, James Von Klemperer from KPF and Peter Weingarten from Gensler, to present on the urban challenges of verticality. The panel discussion was moderated by Steve Burrows, Executive Vice President, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, USA.

The last presentation was delivered by our vertical transportation experts from China, including Vincent Tse, Herbert Lam and Eddie Leung, who talked about elevator systems and MEP engineering for Asia’s mega-tall towers.