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Best Tall Buildings for 2012
Dramatic towers in Canada, Qatar, Australia and Italy have been listed as the best tall buildings in the world for 2012 by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

A pair of curvaceous Canadian towers dubbed the “Marilyn Monroe,” an Italian building that evokes Milan’s Galleria and an Australian skyscraper with an impressive array of green features were among those recently named the best new tall buildings in the world by the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

CTBUH, a group of architects and structural engineers that monitors tall building projects around the world, said there had been a “renaissance” in skyscraper development. A record 88 towers taller than 200 metres were completed in 2011 – compared to 32 such projects in 2005.

Another 96 tall buildings are projected to be completed this year, with China the leading builder.

Best Tall Building Americas:

Absolute Towers, Mississauga, Ontario by MAD Architects

Dubbed the “Marilyn Monroe” building, due to its sexy curves, Absolute Towers has added a new landmark to the skyline of Mississauga, Ontario. According to CTBUH, the architects sought to add to something “naturalistic, delicate and human in contrast to the backdrop of listless, boxy buildings.” The design features smooth, unbroken balconies that wrap each floor of the building. 

Jury comment: ”There have been several curvaceous towers completed in recent years — some using balconies to achieve the free-form edge, and others using the whole facade. With Absolute we see the entire building twisting to achieve the organic form, creating a beautiful new landmark for a developing urban area.”

Best Tall Building Asia and Australasia:

1 Blight Street, Sydney, Australia by ingenhoven architects / Architectus

Completed in the spring of last year, this striking US$270 million, 28th storey office building overlooks Sydney Harbor and boasts an impressive array of sustainable features, such as a sewage plant in the basement that reclaims 90 per cent of the tower’s waste water, rooftop solar panels and chilled-beam air conditioning. It was granted six-star green status by Australia’s Green Building Council. 

Jury comment: “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.”

Best Tall Building Europe:

Palazzo Lombardia, Milan, Italy  by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

The first Italian structure to win an award from CTBUH, this large office complex in Milan houses the regional government of Lombardy’s new seat. Completed in early 2011, the US$505 million project incorporates numerous features, both time-tested and cutting edge, that help make this building the definition of green. 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.

Jury comment: “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.” 

Best Tall Building Middle East And Africa:

Doha Tower, Doha, Qatar by  Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Located in the West Bay district of the city, this US$126 million project was completed last March.The façade is constructed of multi-layered patterns invoking ancient Islamic screens designed to shade buildings from the sun.

The Doha Tower also gets the distinction of being the first significant high-rise to use cross-linked dia-grid columns of reinforced concrete for structural support, which eliminates the need for a central core. This innovation not only optimized space available for the tenants but also allowed construction of an impressive 27-floor glass atrium.

Jury comment: “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.”


Síle Cleary is a regular contributor to Toronto Standard. Follow her on Twitter at @silecleary.

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