November 2004  

Do skyscrapers still make sense?
Revived downtowns and new business models spur tall-building innovation.
By James S. Russell, AIA  
Obituaries for the skyscraper were written after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, targeted New York’s tallest buildings. It was argued then that tall, prominent buildings were too risky. It was said they made less sense in a wired-together world that is moving us toward—in the parlance—more “distributive” business models, making the centralized model of downtown obsolete. Read On.

Slender, Robust, and Very Tall
Cast-in-place reinforced concrete rises to the occasion.
By Sara Hart
Think of the Empire State Building, the most famous skyscraper in the U.S. and the tallest building in the world from 1930 until the 1970s. Riveting archival film of the steel erection shows ironworkers casually eating lunch perched on steel beams hundreds of feet above the ground, working without a net, the steel flying up at a rate of four-and-a-half stories per week. Read On.

Green grows up... and up and up and up
Sustainable high-rises are sprouting from Manhattan’s bedrock.
By Deborah Snoonian, P.E. 
Tall buildings are getting greener. Or green buildings are getting taller. Either way you slice it, the sustainability movement in the U.S. has gone large-scale and skyward, and nowhere is this more apparent than in New York City. Read On.

Tall Tales
The stories of a few classic skyscrapers that were never built tell us much about what motivates architects, and their clients too.
By Charles Linn, FAIA; Stories by James Murdock 
Architecture critics nearly always cite a handful of unbuilt skyscrapers as the best of the type, neglecting the vast majority of completed ones entirely. That begs the question, what is it about working in the tall building genre that propels architects to produce such interesting work? Read On.


October 2003

Imagining the future
How will we make buildings in 2030?
By Sara Hart
Imagine thirty years from now. Will urban areas in 2030 look like Ridley Scott’s Los Angeles in the sci-fi movie Blade Runner—a prelude to Armageddon where the affluent reside in the tops of 400-story skyscrapers, and the less fortunate scratch out an unsavory existence in the seamy, polluted, and lawless regions on the surface? Or will Americans live the utopian dream in self-sufficient, fossil-fuel free communities? Read On.

Brave new solid-state, carbon fiber world
Architects Peter Testa and Sheila Kennedy are reinventing the
design process through collaboration with industry.

By Barbara Knecht
Architects may come to know their buildings, but what connection do they have to the ingredients used to make them? Most buildings are constructed from a tried and true, albeit huge, repository of materials that is listed in the McGraw-Hill Construction Sweets Catalog File, advertised in magazines, and unveiled at trade shows, but how often do architects have the opportunity to experiment with new materials or untested processes? Read On.

Seeking Innovation Alternatives
Kieran Timberlake Associates pumps research into architecture
By Sara Hart
In 2001 the American Institute of Architects (AIA) College of Fellows awarded its first Latrobe Fellowship to Philadelphia architects Stephen Kieran, FAIA, and James Timberlake, FAIA. The grant was established to fund research leading to significant advances in the profession of architecture. Since receiving the award, KieranTimberlake Associates (KTA) has been immersed in the study of building processes, assemblies, products, and new materials. The firm’s research is leading to commercial applications, including advanced building-envelope composites, modular bathroom units, and factory-built door assemblies. Read On.