The Best Tall Buildings of 2015, By Region

Burj Mohammed Bin RashidThe Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid Tower by Foster + Partners in Abu Dhabi, a Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat regional finalist.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat has a pretty straightforward name: it measures and observes tall buildings and how they operate within a given urban fabric. Sometimes it ranks and issues awards to tall buildings — like yesterday, for instance, when the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat announced the regional winners of its Best Tall Buildings survey. Out of the regional winners, one overall winner for the “Best Tall Building Worldwide” will be officially announced at the CTBUH 14th Annual Awards Symposium dinner at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago on November 12. The Symposium will also feature a presentation series from the owners and architects of each building.

Every year, a jury of industry experts acknowledge new projects that have contributed significantly to the advancement of tall buildings and the urban environment. Achieving exemplary sustainability is also recognized. As the competition is not an invited one, designers of said tall buildings can enter their projects into the Council’s competition. This year’s open call received 123 submissions, as opposed to last year’s 88, and though we can’t say we agree with all of the Council’s judgment — 1 World Trade Center, really? — we’re presenting them here all the same. The downtown Manhattan SOM tower won in the Americas; the CapitaGreen tower in Singapore by Toyo Ito won for Asia and Australia; the BoscoVerticale in Milan by Stefano Boeri won in Europe; and the Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid Tower by Foster + Partners in Abu Dhabi beat out other Middle East towers (no small feat, seeing as there are ever more and more of them).

If it seems like the number of submissions is relatively low, it’s worth looking at the criteria for entry — the standards are pretty high. “These awards recognize projects that have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of tall buildings and the urban environment, and that achieve sustainability at the highest and broadest level,” explains the Council on its website. “The winning projects must also exhibit processes and/or innovations that have added to the profession of design and enhance the cities and the lives of their inhabitants.” The Council stresses that a “project does not necessarily need to meet every listed criteria,” but given the rigor of some of the criteria below, taken straight from the Council’s own mouth, it sounds nearly impossible to do so.

  1. The project must be completed (topped out architecturally, fully clad, and at least partially occupied) no earlier than January 1st of the previous year, and no later than the current year’s submission deadline. In some cases a project may be complete according to CTBUH completion criteria, but the presence of a crane/hoist for on-going interior fit-out work may prevent final photography and thus submission to the current year’s awards. In such cases, a one year grace period to the above date criteria may be granted.
  2. Projects submitted to the Best Tall Building awards must meet the CTBUH definition requirements for a “building,” noting that telecommunications/observation towers are not eligible for CTBUH awards. A tall building can be classed as such if at least 50% of its height is occupied by usable floor area. Projects must also be considered “tall” buildings. If a project is less than 14 stories, or less than 50 meters, it is unlikely to qualify.
  3. The project advances seamless integration of architectural form, structure, building systems, sustainable design strategies, and life safety for its occupants.
  4. Exhibit sustainable qualities at a broad level:
    • Environment – Minimize effects on the natural environment through proper site utilization, innovative uses of materials, energy reduction, use of alternative energy sources, and reduced emissions and water consumption.
    • People – Has a positive effect on the inhabitants and the quality of human life.
    • Community – Demonstrates relevance to the contemporary and future needs of the community in which it is located.
    • Economic – The building should add economic vitality to its occupants, owner, and community.
  5. The project achieves a high standard of excellence and quality in its realization.
  6. The site planning and response to its immediate context ensure rich and meaningful urban environments.
  7. The contributions of the project should be generally consistent with the values and mission of the CTBUH.

— Anna Kats (@coldwarcasual)

Image courtesy of Aldar Properties.