06/15/2012 12:52 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

CTBUH Names Best Tall Buildings for 2012

By Karissa Rosenfield

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Absolute Towers - Courtesy of MAD architects

Four innovative towers in Canada, Qatar, Australia and Italy have 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. These towers demonstrate the continued renaissance of tall building development worldwide, as a record number of 88 tall buildings soaring over 200 meters were completed in 2011, compared to 32 buildings in 2005. Another 96 tall buildings are projected to compete this year, with China being the largest contributor.

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 in Doha, Qatar (Middle East and Africa). Additionally, Al Bahar Towers in Abu Dhabi won the CTBUH’s first Innovation Award for the project’s computer sun-screen.

“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.

Continue after the break to learn more.

Best Tall Building Americas: Absolute Towers / MAD architects
Location: Mississauga, Canada
Height: Tower 1, 179.5 meters; Tower 2, 158 meters
Completion Date: August, 2012


Absolute Towers Copyright Tom Arban

Dubbed the “Marilyn Monroe” building, due to its sexy curves, Absolute Towers has added a new landmark to the skyline of Mississauga, the fast-growing suburb of Toronto. 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. The torsional form of the towers is underpinned with a surprisingly simple and inexpensive structural solution.

Juror 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 façade. With Absolute we see the entire building twisting to achieve the organic form, creating a beautiful new landmark for a developing urban area.”

– David Scott, head of structural engineering, Laing O’Rourke

Best Tall Building Asia & Australia: 1 Bligh Street / ingenhoven architects
Location: Sydney, Australia
Height: 135 meters
Completion Date: July, 2011


1 Bligh © ingenhoven architects + Architectus / H.G. Esch, Hennef

A difficult site in Sydney’s central business district was transformed by the elliptical tower, which offers tenants several ground-breaking technological advances. The centerpiece 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 façade and a hybrid system using gas and solar energy to generate cooling, heating and electricity for the building. 1 Bligh Street is the first tall building in Australia honored by CTBUH.

Juror 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.”

– Werner Sobek, award juror, founder Werner Sobek Group

Best Tall Building Europe: Palazzo Lombardia / Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
Location: Milan, Italy
Height: 161 meters
Completion Date: March, 2011


Palazzo Lombardia Copyright Fernando Guerra

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 160-meter-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 curved glass roof, recalling Milan’s famous Galleria.

Juror 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.”

– Antony Wood, executive director, CTBUH

Best Tall Building Middle East & Africa: Doha Tower / Ateliers Jean Nouvel
Location: Doha, Qatar
Height: 238 meters
Completion Date: March, 2012


Doha Tower - Courtesy Ateliers Jean Nouvel

The distinctive cylindrical form is elegant and efficient, creating a distinctive new landmark for the fast-growing Qatar capital. The façade is constructed of multi-layered patterns invoking ancient Islamic screens designed to shade buildings from the sun. Similar in concept to Mr. Nouvel’s Torre Agbar office building in Barcelona, the Doha tower is the first tall building to use a reinforced concrete dia-grid columns in a cross shape. There is no central core, maximizing the interior space available for tenants.

Juror 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.”

– Richard Cook, awards committee chairman and founding partner of Cook + Fox Architects

Tall Building Innovation Award: Al Bahar Towers / Aedas Architects Ltd
Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Height: 145 meters
Completion Date: June, 2012


Al Bahar - Courtesy Aedas

The tower’s innovative dynamic façade opens and closes in response to the movement of the sun, reducing solar gain by more than 50 percent, 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 façade 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.

Juror Comment: “The dynamic façade 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.”

– Chris Wilkinson, principal and founder of Wilkinson Eyre Architects

An overall winner for the “Best Tall Building Worldwide” will be named at the CTBUH 11th Annual Awards Ceremony and Dinner at the Illinois Institute of Technology, October 18, in the iconic Crown Hall, designed by Mies van der Rohe.