Shanghai Talks> Christopher Drew, director of sustainability for Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill

Architecture International Skyscrapers Sustainability
AN's Midwest Editor (right) interviews Christopher Drew of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architects in Shanghai. (Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat)

AN’s Midwest Editor (right) interviews Christopher Drew of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architects in Shanghai. (Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat)

Last September, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat invited me to serve as the special media correspondent for its Shanghai symposium, entitled Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism.

I conducted video interviews with dozens of architects, developers, building managers, and others on topics relevant to tall building design and sustainable urbanism. Among the many designers, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed was Christopher Drew, director of sustainability for Chicago’s Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.

In Shanghai’s Jin Mao Tower, we talked about responsive design and environmental technology—everything from greenery and air quality to geothermal energy and the possibilities of net-zero skyscrapers.

“It’s not going to suddenly happen, it’s going to happen incrementally,” he said of net-zero tall buildings. “I absolutely believe it’s possible.”

His comments on disaster and climate resilience were also revealing. In addition to buildings being resilient, Drew said communities need to be able to react to changing weather patterns—perhaps by relocating or changing local land-use and zoning patterns.

Ultimately the sustainability director for the firm behind Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower and 215 West 57th Street in New York City was hopeful.

“We do have a whole opportunity to build our way out of this, but we can’t do it just on our own,” he said. “It has to be through collaboration with the supply chain … we also have to work with the legislators.”

Watch more videos on CTBUH’s website, and on YouTube. You can subscribe to the monthly video series here.

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