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Best tall buildings 2012.

Dramatic towers in Canada, Qatar, Australia and Italy have been named the best tall buildings in the world for 2012 by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), the international not-for-profit association. The CTBUH Best Tall Building Awards are an independent review of new projects, judged by a panel of industry executives.

Projects are recognised for making an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of tall buildings and the urban environment, and for achieving sustainability at the broadest level.


The CTBUH received 78 entries from around the world for its Best Tall Building awards. The majority of the entries were from Asia, followed by the Middle East. The number of entries from the Americas continued to decline, reflecting the impact of the recent global recession.

The four regional winners include the Absolute Towers in Mississauga, Canada (Americas); 1 Bligh Street, Sydney (Asia and Australia); Palazzo Lombardia, Milan (Europe); and Doha Tower/Burj Qatar, Doha (Middle East and Africa).

The Al Bahar Towers in Abu Dhabi won the CTBUH's first Innovation Award for the project's computer-controlled sun-screen. In addition to ground-breaking designs, this year's award winners demonstrate the continued renaissance of tall building development around the world.

Palazzo Lombardia is the first tall building in Italy to earn CTBUH recognition and 1 Bligh is the first building in Australia honoured in this fashion.

A record number of towers of height greater than 200m were completed in 2011: 88 compared to 32 in 2005, according to CTBUH data. Another 96 are projected to complete this year, with China the biggest builder.

"The winners display remarkable creativity, as well as a respect for the environment, connection with place, and the urban surroundings," said Richard Cook, awards committee chairman and founding partner of Cook+Fox Architects.

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Best Tall Building, Middle East & Africa

Doha Tower

Location: Doha, Qatar

Completion Date: March 2012

Height: 238m; Storeys: 46

Use: Office

Owner: H.E. Sheikh Saoud bin Mohamed bin Ali al-Thani

Design architect: Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Structural engineer: Terrell International

MEP engineer: Terrell International

The distinctive cylindrical form is elegant and efficient, creating a distinctive new landmark for the fast growing Qatar capital. The facade is constructed of multi-layered patterns invoking ancient Islamic screens designed to shade buildings from the sun.

Similar in concept to Nouvel's Torre Agbar office building in Barcelona, Doha Tower is the first tall building to use reinforced concrete diagrid columns in a cross shape. There is no central core, maximising the interior space available for tenants.

"The skin of the building is a beautiful expression of the local culture, connecting this very modern tower with ancient Islamic designs. It also provides a fantastic pattern of light within the building, while efficiently dampening the impacts of the sun's rays," said Richard Cook, awards committee chairman and founding partner of Cook + Fox Architects.

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Best Tall Building, Asia & Australasia

1 Bligh Street

Location: Sydney, Australia

Completion date: July 2011

Height: 135m; Storeys: 28

Use: Office

Owner: DEXUS Property Group; Cbus Property

Design architect: ingenhoven architects; Architectus

Structural engineer: Enstruct Group

MEP engineer: Arup Sydney

Project manager: APP Corporation

A difficult site in Sydney's central business district was transformed by the elliptical tower, which offers tenants several ground-breaking technological advances.

The centrepiece is Australia's tallest naturally-ventilated skylit atrium, trimmed in glass and aluminum, which soars the full height of the building. Other innovations include a double-skin, naturally-ventilated glass facade and a hybrid system using gas and solar energy to generate cooling, heating and electricity for the building.

"The dramatic, naturally-ventilated central atrium connects the office workers with nature at the inner depths of the plan, giving a sense of openness for the entire building.

The series of communal spaces throughout the building, and especially the fantastic rooftop garden, add greatly to the quality of life for the tenants," said juror Werner Sobek, founder of the Werner Sobek Group.

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Innovation Award

Al Bahar Towers

Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE

Completion date: June 2012

Height: 145m; Storeys: 29

Use: Office

Owner: Abu Dhabi Investment Council

Design architect: Aedas Architects

Associate architect: Diar Consult

Structural engineer: Arup

MEP engineer: Arup

Project manager: Mace International

The tower's innovative dynamic facade opens and closes in response to the movement of the sun, reducing solar gain by more than 50%, creating a more comfortable internal environment for occupants and producing a distinctive external aesthetic which helps to define the building as a gateway to the UAE capital.

The facade was conceived as a contemporary interpretation of the traditional Islamic mashrabiya, a popular form of wooden lattice screen found in vernacular Islamic architecture and used as a device for achieving privacy while reducing glare and solar gain.

"The dynamic facade on Al Bahar, computer-controlled to respond to optimal solar and light conditions, has never been achieved on this scale before. In addition, the expression of this outer skin seems to firmly root the building in its cultural context," said juror Chris Wilkinson, principal and founder of Wilkinson Eyre Architects.

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Best Tall Building, Europe

Palazzo Lombardia

Location: Milan, Italy

Completion date: March 2011

Height: 161m; Storeys: 40

Use: Government

Owner: Regione Lombardia

Design architect: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

Associate architect: Paolo Caputo Partnership; Sistema Duemila Architettura e Ingegneria s.r.l.

Structural engineer: Thornton Tomasetti

MEP engineer: Arup

Project manager: Infrastrutture Lombarde

Palazzo Lombardia, the first CTBUH award winner from Italy, turns a government office complex into a new public space for Milan. The project, anchored by a 160m-tall tower, offers a variety of open spaces and passageways, linking the project to the nearby Pirelli Tower.

Sustainability measures include green roofs and active climate walls with vertical blades that rotate to provide shade. The central piazza is covered by a curved, clear ETFE roof, recalling Milan's famous Galleria.

"In a city known for history and fashion, the tower is perfectly attuned to the urban environment. More than simply a tower, the project creates a cohesive blend of parks and commercial space, with an appropriately local flair," said juror Antony Wood, executive director, CTBUH.

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Publication:Construction Week
Date:Jun 21, 2012
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