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 were Jos Melchers of MAB Development & OMA partner Ellen van Loon. We discussed the design of De Rotterdam, an innovative mixed-use development that won CTBUH's 2014 Best Tall Building award for Europe. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OygY60WSibU De Rotterdam's design resembles several skyscrapers stacked closely together, with bridges and protrusions in the facade connecting them into a single, flowing mass. "What you do in a low-rise city, where buildings are very close to each other with different functions, is now basically translated into a high-rise building," said van Loon. "I think what is interesting for me about this building is that tenants see each other on different heights... so not only the physical connections, but the view connections create a community in that building." Van Loon said it was a challenge to temper the community-building aspect of the building's connections with their potential to create confusion in the program or an overwhelming presence on the skyline. The result was the largest building in the Netherlands, but one that developer Jos Melchers said still respects the site. Getting tenants on board was another challenge at first, he said, but now the unusual layout is "becoming part of the city." "You feel that you can make a really mixed-use, multifunctional building," Melchers said. "The tenant has to believe in the concept of a vertical city. Of course tenants want to have their own block, their own building."
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The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) last night named Atelier Jean Nouvel's One Central Park (OCP) in Sydney the year's best tall building. OCP turned the site of a former brewery into a residential high-rise lush with hydroponic hanging gardens and a massive mirror cantilevered over the building's courtyard that harvests sunlight for heat and lighting year-round. One Central Park, considered the world's tallest vertical garden, bested projects from SOM, OMA, and Cutler Anderson Architects for the award. Those buildings—a twisting tower in Dubai, a melded mass of high-rises, and a midcentury office tower reborn as a green icon—each won regional awards from CTBUH. But One Central Park's use of greenery by botantist and green wall guru Patrick Blanc won the day. “Seeing this project for the first time stopped me dead,” said juror and CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood. “There have been major advances in the incorporation of greenery in high-rise buildings over the past few years—but nothing on the scale of this building has been attempted or achieved.” Accepting the award in Chicago on behalf of his firm, Atliers Jean Nouvel Partner Bertram Beissel said the project increases the visibility of sustainable design. "If we do all these sustainable things and no one can see them, do they really exist?" Beissel said. "The choices we make for a sustainable future cannot be made in the future. They must be made today.” Read more about the building on CTBUH's website. OMA’s CCTV Tower in Beijing won last year’s competition.