31 August, 2006

Rise and rise of city's tallest building

CHRIS Gilman is adamant that office workers at Bridgewater Place will be in before Christmas. Although the shell of the 32-storey skyscraper in Leeds is still gradually being added to create the façade of the central core, internally, the structure is radically taking shape. Earlier this year, when the Yorkshire Post last reported on progress of the 400,000 sq ft mixed-use development, access was limited to the 10th floor. But now visitors can take the elevator to the very top of the 105 metre structure, Yorkshire's tallest building. Speaking on the roof of the £140m building, which gives stunning views of landmarks including Drax Power Station, the fringes of the Yorkshire Dales and Harrogate, Mr Gilman, director of Landmark Development Projects, which is joint developer on the scheme with St James Securities, said he was pleased with the progress of construction. "We're working towards the completion of the commercial element of the building by November," he said. It will be more than two-and-a-half years after work started on site. "As we're nearing completion, interest in the building is picking up." Mr Gilman said the original completion date for the commercial aspect of the building had been scheduled for August but financial difficulties suffered by one of the project's sub-contractors had caused delays. "We've had to get firm, and that has helped," he admitted. He said that a team of high-rise building experts from Australia had also been drafted in to help as the building reached further into the sky. Law firm Eversheds, which is taking 121,000 sq ft at Bridgewater Place over four floors, is expected to begin the fit out of its office space over the next few weeks. The space, which will house the firm's 650 Leeds-based staff, will include five elevators and an impressive glass-fronted reception area. Stephen Hopkins, managing partner of Eversheds, said: "We're looking forward to it and we can't wait now to move in to the development. "It looks as if it will be quite a landmark building and I think the facilities are going to be excellent for our staff, all of whom are looking forward to the move." Mr Hopkins added he believed the state-of-the-art offices would aid staff performance. Although the views from the top of Bridgewater Place are stunning, some of its internal architecture could prove to be the most jaw-dropping. The eight-storey glass atrium, which has glass-fronted walkways crossing it at various levels, provides an impressive covered space. Sandwich chain Philpotts is to take a retail unit at the site and a well-known Leeds restaurateur is set to move into another of the units. Pedestrians will be free to use the area as an access when making their way to and from the city centre. Mr Gilman said an additional 110,000 sq ft of office space was available, with two companies finalising deals to take more than 60,000 sq ft of the accommodation. Although the commercial aspect of Bridgewater Place is set to be completed before the end of the year, the fit-out of the 201 apartments is not expected to be completed until well into next year. Several of the apartments, which range in price from £100,000 to £250,000, with the smallest "smart" pad at just 250 sq ft, have become available for purchase after investors dropped out.

Shangri Las Vancouver Classy Skyline Peak

A new luxury tower designed by James KM Cheng Architects, the first to breach the height limits in the Canadian city of Vancouver, is finally starting to rise above ground.Called Living Shangri-La and located at 1120 West Georgia Street, the mixed use tower containing a new Shangri-La hotel on the first 15 floors with condos taking up the rest of the tower, will be 197 metres and 61 have levels in total. There will be public amenities including a grocery and an art gallery on the ground level of the scheme plus planning gain that sees the nearby Coastal Church fully restored by the developer.One highlight of the scheme includes a stunning penthouse suite for a very rich and lucky buyer selling for $13 million CDN. With 630 square metres of floor-space, your very own private roof garden almost 200 metres up and a swimming pool there is proof that a hefty bank balance can put you almost on top of the world.The level of accommodation has proven hugely popular to investors with 75% selling out in the first ten days. If you fancy buying one you'll have to hurry as there are now a mere five apartments left to buy at about $3.2 million CDN each.Construction started with a groundbreaking ceremony in March 2005 but the size of the foundations have seen the project take over a year to even start to rise above the ground - it achieved this in July 2006. The tower is now expected to grow at approximately a floor a week leading to a topping out in August 2007.Vancouver has had strict height limits since tower building started there restricting buildings to no more than 150 metres. The geographical location of it, not unlike Hong Kong in that it is sandwiched between a bay and mountains, has lead the local planning authorities to regulate to protect this setting.The end result has been an attractive but densely developed waterfront that suffers from numerous developers having built up to approximately the same height creating a skyline with few pinnacles, although preserving the stunning backdrop that is only now being breached by the Living Shangri-La.

Denton Corker Marshall’s third project in Manchester gains planning permission

Denton Corker Marshall has won planning permission for a new office building in Manchester for Bruntwood Limited. Located at the strategic Mosley Street / York Street junction, the project comprises 10,000 sq m of office space over 12 upper floor levels with an active ground floor retail space. The development acts as a landmark gateway to the Mosley Street corridor and Bruntwood’s evolving New York Street project. The design sets out to create a dynamic impact at cityscape level. Its architectural form consists of two-storey glass and metal elements which give the illusion of ‘sliding’ in and out of the main building envelope. These ‘sliding boxes’ build up the massing of the building and give a physical impression of ‘turning the corner’ thus creating a greater perceived link between the streets.

Tara Towers Hotel to make way for skyscraper

The Tara Towers hotel on the Merrion Road, Dublin 4 will be demolished to make way for another landmark building if a planning application for a 25-storey office and residential building by developers Bernard McNamara and Jerry O'Reilly is successful.
The two developers are planning to build the scheme under the name Radora as part of the second phase of their Elm Park development.
They are also looking to demolish nine buildings on Merrion Road, including Llandaff Terrace and Llandaff House, and St Columcille's House.

The 25-storey over double basement block would reach a height of 100.16 metres (331ft), making it almost twice the height of Liberty Hall in Dublin city centre.
The first nine floors would contain a 156-bedroom hotel with meeting and conference rooms and a restaurant.
The 10th to 25th floors would be residential comprising a range of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments with winter gardens. It is also planned to put a roof garden on the top floor.
This tower element would be interlinked with a landmark building with a sloping roof which would contain a conference centre.
There would also be 918sq m (9,881sq ft) of retail floor space at the ground floor level of the hotel and conference centre.
The overall scheme has been designed by architects Bucholz McEvoy.
Architect Merritt Bucholz says it will be a zero energy building that is designed to generate the energy that it will use.
This will be achieved through the use of wind turbines on the roof, photovoltaic cells in the glass facade (which make electricity from the sun), a combined heat and power unit and grey water recycling technology.
"This is essentially a new quarter of the city and it is very important that the energy demands that it will have are balanced," says Bucholz.
The Elm Park development is being built on a 14.5-acre site acquired by McNamara and O'Reilly from the Sisters of Charity in 2001 for just under €46 million.
McNamara and O'Reilly also bought the Tara Towers Hotel in 2003 from Jurys Doyle for €14.2 million.

30 August, 2006

"Middle Eastern" town continues construction in Arkansas

It will look like any town in Iraq or Afghanistan, but construction crews are building it in the Mid-South: a Middle Eastern town, being built right across the river in Arkansas.
For more than a decade an international company called The Olive Group has offered military style training at a Crawfordsville, Arkansas soybean field.
Now officials have started a massive expansion that will turn a large part of the field into a city that models those in the Middle East. It will be a city similar to the kind U.S. troops fight in every day.
Officials say the mock city will feature everything from Arabic signage, to actors who will play the roles of people living in the Middle East.
They hope that more military trainers and security companies send their employees here as they prepare to go to war torn areas.
The expansion project will cost around 12 million dollars and construction officials hope to have a major portion completed by the end of this summer.

Parachute Jump Gets Lighter

If the Parachute Jump, the famed thrill ride that operated at Coney Island between 1941 and 1964, was once compared to a flower, the 277-foot structure had become a spent dandelion by the late ’90s—so much so that planners of a new minor league baseball stadium feared the Jump might topple onto it. In July, the Brooklyn icon bloomed once again, with the launch of a new integral lighting installation designed by Leni Schwendinger Light Projects.
For Schwendinger, lighting designs explore “what’s possible with light above and beyond safety and security.” She adds, “What’s interesting about this way of working with light and lighting in the urban context is that we’re able to give these iconic figures a kind of fluidity or flexibility about them.”
Her transformation of the Jump is a delightful addition to the area’s nighttime landscape, one that connects the gritty edge of Brooklyn with the rhythms of nature: One light sequence, for example, accompanies the full moon’s arrival and departure with a three-day waxing and waning of whites.
Although the illuminated Jump is being celebrated as a symbol of Coney Island’s rebirth, the gestation of the project goes as far back as 1999, when New York Department of Design and Construction enlisted architectural engineering firm STV to preserve the structure. The firm ultimately chose to take apart the rusted and delaminated tower in sections so that contractors could replace steel components and remove lead paint without contaminating the beach area, then reassembled it with new high-strength bolts securing the splice plates against the wind. After work was completed in 2003, “there was a little lull in the action,” says Albert Thompson, STV’s project manager. “The city realized that it had received a newly refurbished, bright, shiny tower, [but] it could only be appreciated during the daytime.”
A year later a consortium of city organizations revisited STV’s early suggestion that the Jump be transformed into a lighted, public artwork. Officials were particularly keen on the project because they felt the area was ripe for economic development. “The focus was not only on the Parachute Jump,” Thompson explains, “there was a focus on revitalizing Coney Island.”
Schwendinger was chosen from a shortlist of four teams to compose the lighting design. In her scheme, 17 floodlights and 450 LEDs perform five variations besides the moon dance, including compositions for weekdays, weekends, and special events, which keep repeat customers enthralled. Schwendinger says, “I like to connect with the actual activities, the meaning of the site, the uses of the site, and express those in new ways.”

Two 30-storey glass skyscrapers may form part of a £500m redevelopment of a Birmingham railway station.

Planners want the towers to be a gateway to Birmingham New Street Station with a public square also part of the plans that are being considered.
Network Rail, the city council and Advantage West Midlands said the structures will improve a rundown area of the city and create 3,000 jobs.
One tower is expected to be used for business, the other residential.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: "Our plans for New Street would act as a catalyst for economic growth and development, providing better access to existing job markets and training.
"They will also contribute significantly to the region's drive to secure investment through new business opportunities, enhancing the city's image as a great place to live and work."
Details of the multi-million pound project, called Birmingham Gateway, were released in February this year.
The project is mainly concerned with the appearance of the station, plus its shopping and facilities above the platforms.
Work will include a new enlarged airport-style concourse and a glass roof. It is expected to start in 2008 and last around four-and-a-half years.
A total of £350m will come from the public sector with the rest being raised from the commercial development of the south side of the station.
If approved, work on the towers will start in 2010.

Moshe Safdie and Associates to design a new 2.8 billion euro, integrated resort in Singapore

The Marina Bay Sands is a new concept of urban development which integrates the Waterfront Promenade with a grand, multi-leveled retail arcade combining civic space, shopping, indoor and outdoor spaces endowed with city skyline views, daylight and plant life. The complex will feature three 50-story hotel towers containing 1,000 rooms each, crowned by a two acre Sky Garden bridging across the towers, offering 360-degree views of the city and the sea, outdoor amenities for the hotel such as, swimming pools, spas; an Arts and Sciences Museum; one-million square feet of integrated waterside promenade and shopping arcade, a one-million sq ft. convention center; two 2,000-seat theaters; a casino; and an 4,000 car garage. To realize this 6-million sq ft. complex Aedas Architect and Arup joined to create the Las Vegas Sands design team.

Sandstone Towers terminated

The Billings City Council voted on Moday to terminate the plans for the proposed Sandstone Project. The private developer Harrison G. Fagg and the City could not come up with an agreement on parking.

Danish-designed skyscraper to rub shoulders with Turning Torso

One of Denmark's top architecture studios wins the bid to build a trademark skyscraper in Copenhagen's Swedish sister city
Even though Copenhagen's architectural heritage is deeply rooted in its stately, five-storey buildings, its architects have their eyes on the sky.
C.F. Møller, one of the country's most prestigious studios, announced Monday that it had been chosen to build a skyscraper across the Øresund Sound in Sweden. The 180-metre edifice will become the trademark building in Malmö's new Hyllie Project.
In a local newspaper, Malmö residents voted for the Danish-designed project, which beat out the three other proposals from Sweden, Norway and Austria with 52% of the votes.
Lone Wigger, the head architect on the project, made no secret that the building, tentatively named Malmö Tower, would act in dialogue with the award-winning Turning Torso skyscraper, which Copenhageners can glimpse on the other side of the sound.
'In the future, there won't be only one skyscraper in Malmö, but two which converse with each other,' said Wigger. 'One in a twisted, organic form, the other in a cubic form. One in glass, the other in concrete. Together the two white towers can give Malmö a new identity.'
At a press conference Monday, Wigger emphasised that the tower would not only look good - it would help the new district, which includes a sports arena, shopping centre, flats and a new train station, spring to life. Specially designed kid-friendly areas figure prominently in the building, as does a roof-top restaurant that will provide a view over the Øresund.
The entire Hyllie Project is expected to cost DKK 1.6 billion (EUR 214 million) and will stand finished by the winter of 2010-2011.

City skyscraper plans grounded

PLANS for Birmingham's third tallest skyscraper have been put on hold due to a technical hitch.

Designs for the 40-storey hotel and apartment tower on the former Tramps nightclub site, in Broad Street, were set to go before the city's planning committee.

But they were withdrawn at the last minute for some late changes.

The application is expected to return to the committee for a decision within the next few weeks.

Construction set to begin on Gilbert's tallest building

Construction will begin Aug. 31 on Gilbert's tallest building.

Rome Towers, at Pecos Road, east of Val Vista Drive, will stand five stories, or 85 feet tall, when it opens in mid-2007. It will be the centerpiece of the Spectrum at Val Vista, a master-planned community complete with 2 million square feet of high-end specialty retail space. A parking structure also will be built on site.

Rome Towers LLC is the project developer, The Weitz Co. is the contractor, Patrick Hayes Architecture is the architect and Carl Walker Inc. is the architect for the parking structure.

HOK breaks ground in Dallas

Omni Hotels of Irving, Texas, has broken ground on a new signature 35-story luxury hotel and condominium tower in downtown Fort Worth. Designed by the Dallas Office of the global architectural firm HOK and scheduled for completion in 2008, the 1-million-square-foot project includes 604 hotel rooms, 97 condominiums and three levels of underground parking for 550 vehicles. It is located on two city blocks across the street from the HOK-designed Fort Worth Convention Center. The project will add a world-class travel and residential destination and unmatched amenities to downtown Fort Worth. "We designed a building with a forward-looking conception of Fort Worth, while acknowledging the city’s proud tradition and context," says Steven Janeway, Principal Designer of HOK Dallas. “It’s been a while since a new tall building has been built in the city, so we are very proud to contribute to the Fort Worth skyline in a meaningful way.”

The University Of Iowa School of Art commissions Steven Holl architects to enhance its art program

The 70,000 sq ft building houses an auditorium, classrooms, an art library, studios, an art gallery, faculty offices, meeting rooms and a café. A public route follows the contour edge of the pond and extends vertically up into the building’s central atrium by a suspended stair of red folded steel plates. Glass walls line the building’s interior passages, revealing works-in-progress within studio classrooms and giving views throughout and Natural finishes and exposed materials such as concrete floors and ceilings give material character to the new building The building was designed to partially straddle a pond and creates new campus spaces, pathways and connections to the landscape. The suspended elevated wing contains the library which extends out over the pond. The building is set to be officially opened on the 8th of September.

Caruso St John Architect's Stirling Prize entry

This family house stands amongst dense residential buildings in a busy part of West London. The land is shaped like a horse’s head, surrounded by three taller buildings, and can only be reached by a carriageway through the façade of an adjacent Victorian terrace. The paradox of making a new building on a site of almost insuperable difficulty can only be explained by the will of the clients, and their determination to make a new home in this particular part of the city where conventional sites were used up many years ago. In this design, the accidental but wildly spatial shape of the site has been used to form the living spaces. The interior plan is completely separate from the typologies of the London town-house or the inner city loft, while still retaining a strong sense of dwelling at the heart of the city.

Bridging DNA

A consultant team comprising COX Group, Arup Pte Ltd (Australia) and Architects 61 have won the Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority's design for the new waterfront promenade and bridge at Marina Bay. The final winning work was a bridge designed as a double helix structure, where the pedestrian component of the bridge scores a world’s first in architecture and engineering design. It comprises two opposite spiralling steel members that are held together by a series of connecting struts to form a tubular structure. This provides an inherent strength, ideal for the curved form. Its resemblance to the structure of DNA, symbolises “life and continuity”. “renewal”, “everlasting abundance” and “growth”, reflecting aspirations for Marina Bay. The new 280 metre long bridge targeted to begin construction end 2006 is envisaged to be a destination point for all visitors to Marina Bay – a place for them to enjoy and catch a panoramic view of the Singapore city skyline.

Competition hots up for the UK's most prestigious award

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the shortlist for its top award. As well as accolades, the winner of the Stirling Prize named after the great British architect Sir James Stirling (1926-1992)receives a cash prize of £20,000.
Clockwise from top left:

Evelina Children’s Hospital by Hopkins Architects
Barajas Airport by Richard Rogers Partnership
Brick House by Caruso St John Architects
Idea Store Whitechapel by Adjaye/Associatess
Phaeno Science Center by Zaha Hadid Architects
National Assembly for Wales by Richard Rogers Partnerships
Vote for the project you believe should win. The Results will be published on WAN - one week before the Stirling Award on the 14th October.

Vote Now

Two new rooftop houses for the Piper Building in Fulham, London.

These rooftop houses were converted out of two tank rooms on the roof of a former British Gas laboratory, altered in the mid-1990s into luxury flats. A modular, steel-framed construction system was used, allowing the units to be assembled and fully fitted out internally in the factory, transported by truck to London and installed by crane in a few days. The two ends of each unit are fully glazed, framing panoramic views over the Thames River, while the remaining facades are solid with smaller windows and clad in metal mesh, which catches and shimmers in the light.

Olympic construction takes shape

The RMJM Beijing Olympic Green Convention Centre will open for the games on 8 August 2008. However, the building is required to be completed next year, to allow 12 months for the fit-out of the Olympic sports arena and media facilities housed within the complex .Construction started in April 2005 and a fast track 28- month construction programme has been adopted to achieve this critical deadline. To achieve this high speed of construction, the site operates for 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, with up to 4,500 workers on site at peak times, Using A total of 380,000 cubic metres of concrete. Following the Olympics in 2008, the interiors of the buildings will be re-fitted and in 2009 the building will reopen as the National Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Innovative form embraces wind

SOM have recently announced a new 69 storey, 303 metre tower, in Guangzhou, for China National Tobacco Corp. The Pearl River Tower epitomizes the super tall corporate headquarters building of tomorrow as an iconic, high performance structure, that is designed in such harmony with its environment that it potentially produces as much energy as it consumes. The building’s sculptural form guides wind to a pair of openings at its mechanical floors. The rapid winds push turbines that generate energy for the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. The openings also provide structural relief, by allowing wind to pass through the building instead of pressing against it. Abundant natural light, solar power and grey water retention also enhance the building’s environmentally-friendly nature.

Critical stage reached in PTW's Beijing "watercube" construction

The steel structure of the Beijing Swimming Centre dubbed “Watercube” is nearing completion with the majority of the steel members in place and final welding of steel connections and preparation of the steel work for painting, now taking place. The 500m2 of ETFE test panel has been removed and a test area of painted steelwork undertaken. Manufacture of the ETFE final façade is in full swing, with installation due to start in June 2006. This installation will take place in stages commencing on the western façade.

All units sold in Libeskind Architect’s high rise, high end condominium complex.

The 420,000 sq.ft, 98 million euro, Aura Condominiums project is located in the heart of downtown Sacramento. It will be the one, of two high-rise residential towers, that Studio Daniel Libeskind is currently designing for the city. This tower will make a significant contribution to the skyline and is placed in a diagonal configuration relative to an adjacent tower. The two towers will interact in a conversational manner with Aura rising over 400 feet. The 38 stories of luxurious residences will have state-of-the-art technology and cutting edge contemporary style and elegance. Every unit will have glass railed terraces with panoramic views looking out to the horizons of Sacramento. Included in the base of the tower is one floor of retail space , and a five level parking garage. Construction is set to be complete in 2007.

Construction is set to begin on the Hummingbird Centre, Ontario

Studio Daniel Libeskind’s redesign of the 45-year-old Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts includes a new arts and a cultural facility, the Centre’s existing theatre, as well as a residential tower. The development will offer a new strategy for 21st century living whereby inner city life is actively integrated with culture and the arts. The residential tower component comprises 420,000 sq.ft of the redesign and is situated atop the cultural facilities. It will contain approximately 300 units and rise to a height of 50 stories, providing stunning views over downtown Toronto and Lake Ontario. The 77 million euro project is set to be complete in 2007.Value: € 77(M)

Durrant design chosen for renovation, expansion of landmark hotel

As winner of a competition in Hangzhou, China, U.S.-based Durrant is designing a $36 million renovation and expansion that will almost double the size of the city-owned Yellow Dragon Hotel, bringing it to nearly a million square feet. The design is a seamless extension of this landmark hotel’s very recognizable architecture, characterized as modern Chinese. Completing a campus plan of luxuriant gardens and pools, two new towers — 13 stories and 9 stories — will be added to the existing six-building complex of 7-story buildings. The project includes renovations to four restaurants and other public areas, and the addition of two ballrooms and below-grade parking. Guest rooms will increase from 420 to 600.Value: € 70.3(M)

AnPhu Villa

This is the initial sketch of AnPhu Villa. Construction will commence this year at Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

19 August, 2006

Plans have been drawn up to build the tallest structure in the Westcountry's history.

Architects have unveiled proposals for a 24-storey, 75-metre tower in the centre of Plymouth.Called the Horizons Tower, it is expected to cost £30 million.The building, which would contain nearly 400 apartments, would transform the skyline and be visible from all over the city.Marc Nash, director of Architects Design Group, which has just submitted plans to the city council for approval, said: "This is an exciting time for Plymouth: a time to be bold, forward- thinking and to make a statement."The architectural firm says the wedge-shaped tower's design resembles New York's iconic Flatiron building - the world's first skyscraper when it was constructed in 1902.It is one of several tall structures which developers have proposed for Plymouth as part of renowned architect David Mackay's vision to reinvigorate the city.They include Trathen's Tower, which will form Plymouth's first five-star hotel and which has been approved, and a 22-storey tower containing offices and a restaurant.A Mackay plan for a £1 million boulevard linking the city centre to the seafront is also being considered.ADG, based at Tamar Science Park, says the 900sq m Horizons Tower would contain 396 studio and one-bedroom apartments aimed at University of Plymouth students and flats for city-centre workers.Mr Nash said: "We hope our visionary work will be welcomed by city council planners, having always believed that it fits in superbly with the ambitious Mackay vision for the city."The building will certainly equal, if not surpass, recent statement architecture in Bristol and Exeter, and indeed outside the South West."Plymouth has the potential to become an iconic skyline for the UK."Many major cities around the world are also making best use of available 'brownfield' inner-city land, which is in short supply, in line with government policy."We will only achieve that through truly ground-breaking design such as Horizons."Architects Design Group director Ian Potts said the tall buildings being proposed for the city would help attract tourists. "When you come off the liners they're trying to attract into Millbay, you can't instantly see where the city centre is. Tall buildings will quickly draw people in," he said.The tower is to be located at a former YMCA site at the top end of Armada Way in the city centre.

EVE architects begin construction on one of their many new European projects in a cold climate.

Erick van Egeraat has started construction of the Trade and Entertainment Center 'Vershina' for client SKU. The award-winning 35,000 m2 project is located in Surgut, Russia. The design features a large central mass visually divided into discrete sharp volumes by transparent cuts in the façade. These 'lines of light' allow daylight in and artificial light radiate out at night. Corresponding with the long and dark winter nights of Siberia, this play of light makes the building an illuminated icon in the midst of the repetitive panel housing of the city. The heart of Vershina is occupied by an immense atrium stretching across all levels, thereby offering visitors room for social interaction sheltered from the Siberian cold. The complex will house shops, sports facilities, restaurants, bars and clubs. Vershina will open in the summer of 2008.

Bridges Wharf To Start Construction

Work is due to start in the coming weeks on Bridges Wharf in Battersea on three new Thames-side residential buildings, all designed by Chantrey for Weston Homes. With building heights and floors all modest, ranging from 37.5 and 10 floors for the shortest to 49.5 and 14 for the tallest they show just the very latest examples of what is making this area boom accommodating a mixture of a 100 room hotel, retail and 266 swish apartments. There will also be control facilities for the nearby heliport. There will also be a restaurant on the top of the tallest block and 300 car parking spaces, a relatively large amount for a London development these days.Thanks to the attractive location, the short distance between it and the centre of London, good rail transport links from Clapham Junction, and the feeling that Battersea has been an up-coming area ever since This Life threw the spot-light on it in the mid 90s this Weston Homes hope will prove just the latest successful project in the area. Other popular schemes have included the nearby Falcon Wharf built by Frogmore Estates, and there is of course the planned Power Station that is gradually inching forwards.Despite this growing collection of developments local council, Wandsworth, are notoriously difficult with their planning regulations when it comes to height and density, as indeed many Tory councils are. In this case the design has been scaled down substantially, earlier project images showed Bridges Wharf reaching up to 22 floors in height but this was withdrawn after council objections before the Mayor of London was able to comment on it. Gone too is the blockier former design replaced by more curving forms as seen in their almost neighbour at Falcon Wharf and plenty of stepping, one block manages to step almost 10 floors in height. Balconies wrap around the outsides providing almost every resident with external space.When coupled with Falcon Wharf, significantly included in the promotional renderings there's a feeling of unity to the Bridges Wharf triplets although whether this marks the beginning of a "Battersea look" remains to be seen but it certainly won't be the last big development this area will see.

Divided Opinions On Bradfords Channel

You wouldn't think of Bradford as much of a skyscraper city and you'd be right but if Magellan Properties get their way this could soon be changing.The Channel is the centrepiece of the Will Alsop master-plan to regenerate the centre of Bradford from one of Britain's dingiest cities, raped by decades of industrial recession, into one of the brightest.Magellan have hired Robinson Architects to design the detailed work of the scheme that will include over a dozen blocks creating 2600 new homes, trendy bars, offices and hotels all overlooking the 1 million gallon piece of water the development is named after, all costing a cool £350 million.Unfortunately the developers have hit a hitch, Bradford City Council. The council are upset over the height of the scheme and have already had some of the taller buildings in it reduced to 13 floors although the tallest building, a spiral tower of 22 floors seems to remain at present. All of this is still far above the 5-7 maximum that the area is supposed to have according to the master-plan. Some argue that reducing height, and by implications density, would reduce the prestige of the whole scheme that is supposed to be the centre-point of 21st century Bradford, a strange decision when almost every other city in the UK is building bigger and size does matter. Critics also say that it shows just how out of touch the council are with the urban realities of today, particularly when they so desperately need increasing amounts of urban regeneration and are not in the position to pick and choose that other cities such as Leeds now find themselves in. Supporters of the council claim that the master-plan shows a good and idyllic image of what Bradford could be like and just because other places do it, or developers want it, there's no reason to sacrifice quality for an overbearing development.Rather than get into an intractable position both sides are now looking to an independent panel to thrash out once and for all. This will create a delay on the scheme of several months but the end result should be a design that everyone can live with.

14 August, 2006

Mexican Earthquake Sways Skyscrapers

A moderate earthquake rocked Mexico City onFriday, causing skyscrapers to sway and frightening residents, butemergency officials said no major damage or injuries were reported.
The U.S. Geological Service estimated the earthquake had apreliminary magnitude of 5.9 and struck in Michoacan, 125 milessouthwest of the capital. It was centered four miles northwest ofthe town of Huetamo and 59 miles below ground.
Electricity and telephone service did not appear to beinterrupted.
Some buildings announced brief evacuations, and hundreds raninto the streets.
"I was in a small office, and the shelves were moving ... andthe walls were vibrating," said Carlos Avila, 25, anadministrative employee at the federal Public Safety Department.
Sanjeev Patny, a 43-year-old American Express employee, walkeddown 10 flights of stairs and was waiting for building officials totell him he could return to work.
"I felt the tremors, and I didn't know what to do," he said.
The quake was too small and based too far inland to cause atsunami, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

Mersey Property Company submits planning application for major mixed use scheme

The centrepiece of this development is an elegant 135 bedroom hotel and a residential tower with 183 apartments extending to 36 storeys high designed by RMJM. The development also accommodates offices, mixed commercial uses and car parking for over 330 vehicles. At the heart of the grand design is a semi-enclosed plaza with cafes and seating areas, enjoying views over the dock basin. Roger Whiteman, of RMJM, said: “The building has been carefully modelled to respect prominent views to landmark buildings such as ‘the Three Graces’. The development relates well to the developing cluster of taller buildings at this important northern gateway to the City Centre. The building will be built using a varied palette of materials, which will be a clean and modern interpretation of the cities industrial heritage. Liverpool will be the European Capital of Culture in 2008.

Eco roof is visual icon

Alsop’s first major project in Asia comes in the form of a dramatic redevelopment of the river front district of Clarke Quay in Singapore. Costing €45.3 million, this mixed-use scheme, developed by Capitaland, has transformed the area into a vibrant and attractive destination. Integral to the projects success was the architect’s and engineer’s ability to manipulate the site’s microclimate using a sophisticated shading/cooling system. This system, embedded in the roof, enhances both the project’s visual ingredient and it’s environmental agenda. Phase 1 of the design was completed in March of this year and a dramatic 4-fold increase in foot traffic has marked its success. Commenting from London Alsop said: ‘What is interesting is the addition of a single roof acting as a visual icon has succeeded in attracting people back to Clarke Quay.’

KSS win in Bognor

London based KSS Design Group are part of St. Modwen Properties’ competition winning team for the £100m redevelopment of the centre of Bognor Regis. Other members of the team include Hyland Edgar Driver, Halcrow and DBK Back. The mixed use regeneration scheme on the UK's south coast will include a new civic core at the Regis ‘healthy living’ site incorporating county council offices, health centre and library, and new cultural and leisure facilities including art centre, multiplex cinema, ten pin bowling and bingo hall. The two sites will also include new residential units, and the promenade that links them will be revitalised with new shopping and dining experiences. The competition generated a high level of local interest and a positive response to proposals. A planning application is expected to be submitted for the whole master plan late next year.

Southwark Council seeking JV partners

This new masterplan by Make architects will reconnect the communities living and working around the heart of London's Elephant and Castle district, knitting them together into a vibrant new urban community. Transport routes will be rationalised in order to strengthen connections in a more pedestrian-friendly fashion, while a range of sensitively-massed and oriented buildings will define the civic heart of the area, interspersed with numerous parks and green spaces. Make architects were invited by Southwark Council to complete the masterplan initiated by Foster and Partners, and work began in May 2004 following a competitive tender. The Council are currently seeking joint venture partners to help deliver the masterplan, and the winning consortium will be decided in December of this year.

Brazilians get worked up over museum proposal

Igor de Vetyemy, a young Brazilian architect has created a storm in Rio de Janerio with his plans for an interactive sex museum just off Copacabana Beach. The building, in the form of a giant uterus which will house strip joints, sex capsules and a swinger’s club is in direct conflict with Rio’s Governor Rosinha Matheus who is trying to sever the city’s ties with sex tourism. Vetyemy, an Oxford University architecture graduate, defended his proposal, "There is this huge hypocrisy surrounding sex here. People are terrified of talking about the idea, and only really discuss the negative things related to sex, like sexual tourism or child prostitution. I wanted to deal with it in a natural, official way,"

Planning awarded for £160 million scheme

International design practice Woods Bagot will transform the derelict land adjacent to Liverpool’s Central Station into the “go-to” destination for the North West consisting of a £160m shopping, residential and leisure development. The mixed use project is one of the biggest regeneration schemes ever planned for the North West of England at 600,000 sq ft. Work is scheduled to commence in January 2007. " I do feel this is a real triumph of place making as the key design driver, married to wonderful occurrence where the 18th century meets the 21st. The challenge was to design a landmark configuration for the local urban fabric, with a finer grain and a legible typology. The scheme is a rigorously resolved design, and it will be a unique piece of urban design and architecture of lasting quality and value for Liverpool . The fact that we have been able to distil the " big ask" from a number of very disparate stakeholders is a credit to all the players on the Liverpool Central Team " Stephan C Reinke RIBA FAIA, Principal Designer.

Plans revealed for London's new transport hub

Plans for London’s new £400 million King’s Cross station have been revealed by McAslan and Partners. This development, together with the adjacent St Pancras station (the new International Eurostar terminus), will form a major new transport hub for London which will link the north and midlands of the UK to mainland Europe for the first time. The barrel roof of the 154 year old King’s Cross terminus, originally built on the site of a former fever and smallpox hospital, will be retained to maintain the atmosphere. The station will carry 70,000 passengers per day and is due for completion by 2009.

Mixed-use scheme on site this month

At the heart of AWW’s comprehensive master plan for the regeneration of Croydon’s Cultural Quarter sits a new urban space, which reintegrates a Grade II listed former pumping station and a historic market. The adjacent bridge house provides 74 affordable apartments and sits above a ground an mezzanine retail space. A new bridge links this building with the area’s principle shopping street. The block wraps around an existing multi-storey car park, creating a powerful back-drop to the open public space. New voids are unleashed under the car park, prescribing spaces for shops and cafés to open out onto the square. Opposite sits a former telephone exchange that is converted into a further 66 apartments. A mixture of green and brown roofs along with off-site renewable energy provision form just a small part of many environmental measures incorporated into the regeneration.

Costs soar for 2012 Olympics as UK Government hijacks funds for East End regeneration

Just 12 months after winning the competition to host the 2012 Olympics, projected development costs are spiralling out of control. This week Ministers will be asked to approve an increase of £1.5 billion ($2.75USD) in the budget taking the total to £5 billion. The Olympic Park is strategically located adjacent to the Government’s controversial Thames Gateway scheme, the largest brownfield site in Europe. However much of the site is on flood plain. Ministers are using the Games as a catalyst to drive their 120,000 homes proposal forward by funding infrastructure from the 2012 budget. Recent proposals for post-games use of the Lea Valley Olympic site have conveniently blurred the boundaries between the Games and the Thames Gateway development.

HOK Museum of the Adirondacks to open soon

A new natural history museum of the Adirondacks, known as The Wild Center, has been completed by international architectural firm HOK. The main scheme of this 31-acre new museum is to bring the surrounding outdoors indoors, and to provide an unprecedented experience of the natural setting of the Adirondack Park in which it resides. It features a main round exhibit space called the Great Hall, which contains exhibitions such as "Living River", a life exhibit of amphibian and aquatic creatures, and a moving Ice Wall exhibit. The route to explore the museum alternates between the indoor and outdoor environment and leads visitors to various interactive displays. Opening is due on July 4th.

Islamabad Pakistan Begins Centaurus Work

Construction work has begun on the Centaurus Hotel in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, that has been nicknamed "the ski jump" by locals thanks to its unique profile. Designed by British firm Atkins who are getting quite a name for themselves in the world of international architecture thanks to their boldly futuristic designs, the 278,000 square metre scheme will contain as its centrepiece, a 30 floor hotel with 350 bedrooms topped by a restaurant and observation level. The tower shares a podium with an undulating roof with three 23 floor tall residential towers sitting on the top of it containing over 300 apartments. The project will also have a 27,870 square metre shopping mall on the lowest floors and offer 23,225 square metres of office space.There's no published height for the development yet but with the outrageously tall spire that turns the tower into something literally pricking the sky it's sure to come in at over 200m. It might not be the tallest building in the world but with so many supertalls under construction these days from China to Dubai it takes more than height to get noticed. Developer Pak Gulf Ltd are yet another Arab business concern with rich with oil money and successful projects in the likes of Dubai who are looking to Pakistan as an emerging and highly profitable market. It's these companies that is driving what is the first phase of skyscraper building in Pakistan. Islamabad despite being the capital of the country doesn't even have a single skyscraper yet but the developers hope that the $315 million dollar project when complete in 2008, will not only break the mould in terms of development scale but also be a highly recognisable modern landmark.

Freedom Tower Work Ramps Up

Work finally seems to be underway on one of the most anticipated skyscrapers in the world, the main replacement for the World Trade Centres in New York.The project called the Freedom Tower is 1776 feet tall, or 543.3 metres, the height as historians will know has been set by the date of the American declaration of independence. In another reference to the past the parapet wall is 1368 feet tall, exactly the same height as the previous WTC towers were.The scheme was originally designed by Daniel Libeskind but differences between him and the developer, Silverstein Properties caused him to be succeeded by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill who modified the design whilst retaining many of their predecessors elements.The main change was to the spire with SOM dropping the lattice-work that Libeskind had designed for a more traditional one that sits in the middle of the tower making it simpler as well as more profitable. The spire will be a huge light projector that will pump a beam of bright light into the sky making the tower even more of a landmark. The finished design bares more than a passing resemblance of the previous WTC, a huge monolithic modern block with vertically patterned curtain walling and simple cladding. The main difference comes from the twisting shape and slight tapering as it rises whilst retaining the formality that the original towers had.They also strengthened the first 80 metres of the building with added titanium to help it withstand a truck bomb at ground level after fears were raised that the Libeskind plans were not bomb-proof enough. Safety conscious of the flaws in the previous design, including a central core being taken out which stopped people evacuating the building, the architects have designed minor service shafts to go on each corner of the building meaning you would literally have to destroy all four corners plus the centre of the tower to stop anyone escaping a disaster. That would of course completely destroy the tower, but it means that except in a catastrophic event of instant destruction people would get out of the still standing but badly damaged skyscraper so there can be no repeat of the previous disaster. Adding to the complexity and delay of the scheme isn't just the scale of the tower but the memorial that is planned at ground level - obviously its hard to set the foundations for a super-tall tower if you haven't decided precisely what is going next to it.Designed by Ron Arad this will feature waterfalls marking the edges of the original twin towers in the middle of a memorial gardens. The insides of these waterfalls will be hollow creating space that onlookers can gaze up from at the new tower.The first beams were laid on site on the 27th of April 2006 but it has taken until the start of August for work proper to really start with preparation works past that symbolic start. Meanwhile in Acelor Mill, Luxemburg, the main i beams weighing between 11 and 20 tons each are running off the production line for erection early in 2007 as the central supports of the project foundation.It seems that after many false starts and design changes this time something will be going ahead and that something will be the SOM design. Completion is scheduled for 2011 and the site should be opened some time in 2012. Does anyone want to place a bet it doesn't happen on the 4th of July to a backdrop of fireworks, and Mariah Carey types singing the Star Spangled Banner?

Chongqing China Cements Fastest Growing Title

China is famous as a big country with such an insane level of development going on that no-one, probably not even the Chinese government themselves, have any idea of just how much is happening there.Dubai is better promoted with glitzy gold and palm shaped islands, but China is a world unto itself, something that the plans for an entirely new CBD and airport in Chongqing show. It will take up an entire peninsula off the Jialing River opposite the existing Chongqing CBD literally marching the city en masse across the water into what is entirely undeveloped countryside with an army of dozens of new skyscrapers and a brand new waterfront.To give an idea of the sheer scale of the development, the competition for the airport has been narrowed down to 16 entries with the preferred one by the developer the Chongqing Airport Group, they have designed it to handle 60-75 million passengers a year, something that can rival Heathrow in London.Chongqing is already a burgeoning centre with two super-tall towers under construction but this new proposal alone will give it more proposed skyscrapers than the whole of Western Europe. The current skyscrapers being built are the 398m Chuanjiang Fanying and the 377m 72 floor Wanhao Financial Center that is being built for JW Marriott (pictured right). That's without mentioning the dozens of smaller skyscrapers of a mere 150 metres plus, so many that even the models of the proposals for the city make them uncountable.Only last year the Chongqing World Trade Center at 283 metres was also completed, and other huge towers such as the JiaLingFanYing and Crest of the City, both rumoured to be over 400 metres high, are planned but all of these are planned for the current centre of the city rather than new developments.In the last ten years has reportedly built over 200 according to official Chinese news agency sources and is labelled the fastest growing urban centre on the planet by the record books. Population counts are sketchy and vary between 6.3 and 12 million depending on who you listen to whilst growth is running at 800,000 new inhabitants a year.This growth can be supported by the most populous country in the world, the Chinese government has decreed that Chongqing be a "gateway to the west" and with its central location between two rivers, not to mention the Three Gorges damn to provide power plus a fifth of all of China's natural gas supply, it is has the deck already stacked in it's favour.Few people may have heard of it today outside of China but in as few as ten years Chongqing could be as well known as Hong Kong or Shanghai. It certainly has ambitions to match and as 8.5 million Chinese peasants flood into their country's urban areas every year, becoming a megatropolis of 20 million should be no problem.

Abu Dhabi Launches The Gate

Abu Dhabi may play second fiddle right now in the United Arab Emirates to the skyscraper boom of Dubai but all this could be about to change as the Gate project by Sorouh Real Estate begins construction on site.The not so imaginatively titled Sky Tower will be the tallest of the eight building project at 389 metres tall and 83 storeys. It will be flanked by a series of shorter towers including four that are interconnected via a sky-bridge running over the entirety of their top floors that includes an infinity pool... that is you can look over the edge of the water on to the drop below. The apartments in the scheme will get larger from one and two bedrooms to three and four as the height increases on each floor. As well as the residential floors the Sky Tower will also have its fair share of office floors on the 39 lowest floors of the skyscraper giving it two separate entrances on different sides of the project for the different uses. To provide transport for residents, architects Arquitectonica have planned for 2600 parking spaces in the basement levels underneath the development. There will also be waterways linking the complex together and extending out past its borders to connect with other projects.All of this will be part of the Al Reem Island Shams Abu Dhabi Project, Abu Dhabi's response to Dubai plus an attempt to replicate its success. The Al Reem Island project is a scheme involving dozens of new towers set on an island surrounding by idyllic park land, grand boulevards and palm trees. In an attempt to build a modern xanadu there is even a pyramid planned.Located 300 metres off the main existing Abu Dhabi conurbation, the figures for Al Reem Island Shams are huge - 2.5 million cubic metres of fill under the roads, 1850 line metres of sewers and 33 manholes, 1.320 million square metres of space and 70,000 new homes plus 50 billion us dollars of investment.In reality, instant cities almost never work. Whether this project finally overcomes this issue remains to be seen but from the past whether it was the instant urban growth of industrial England or the planned post war modernism of war damaged cities this approach has always failed no matter how much money is thrown at it.The marketing material may be glistening but turning it into a living breathing city that will last hundreds of years is another thing entirely but Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE has played second fiddle to Dubai and this could now be coming to an end.

MAD Architect Plans Mississauga Canada Tower

Winding towers might be all the rage but Canadian city of Mississauga, absorbed by the Toronto suburbs could soon be adding a new twist to the approach with a design called Absolute World.As the sixth largest city in Canada, it has been largely bereft of landmark buildings thanks to the proximity to Toronto but the plans by a young Chinese architect practise could change all that. Designed by the firm MAD Studio, 50 floor tower is intended as a change to this suburban blandness that has characterised Mississauga as a city that few Canadians could name, let alone foreigners, despite the large population. Head honcho of MAD Studio, Yansong Ma says, "Suburbs around the world want to become metropolises, but we don't think they should. They have their own character. They should create their own identity."This approach coupled with the sumptuous twists and curving femininity that turn it the full 360 degrees, their work won MAD the top place in an international design competition that over 70 other firms entered that was hosted by the developers, the Cityzen Development Group and Fernbrook Homes.Amongst the advantages of the shape are not just the aesthetics but the fact that the curving design means that there is plenty of space for deeply recessed balconies on all the apartments without interrupting the floor to ceiling glazing and allowing the texture of the tower to be continuous. It also gives many residents the chance to look straight down on a vertical drop increasing the impression of height.Although the tower is still under detailed design by the architects who are now fleshing out their earlier vision it has proven an enormous success and the developers have found themselves with such demand that they have in effect sold out.This has led them to introduce a second tower called Absolute World 2, and rename the earlier tower Absolute World 1 making them sound like episodes of some Hollywood teen comedy movie. The second tower will be 54 floors and basically a twin of the first although . The architect looks on this with a feng shung eye saying, "they talk to each other and harmonize with each other. There is a synergy between them, an aura which transcends each of the individual buildings."The drawback is it does make the scheme lose some of its initial distinctiveness by having a twin although with over 7,000 inquiries from potential buyers it's the smart move to make for any developer out to make money. They might even succeed in putting Mississauga on the map but it would help if we could pronounce it too.

Malaysias Petronas To Be Joined By New Twins

The Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur could be due to get a second set of twin towers piercing the skyline. Developed by Venus Assets and designed by NRY Architects the development will be contain over 200,000 square metres of gross space within.There will be two towers, one a Four Seasons Hotel and serviced apartments within a 42 floor building whilst the taller 70 floor building, about 320 metres tall, will provide new apartments hosting a mere 173 units. That's a small amount given the number of floors on offer translating into less than 2 and a half per floor but with prices rumoured to be $289 us per square foot, enormous levels for Malaysia, they are quite clearly being targeted at the super-rich. They will stand over a huge new shopping mall with 70,000 square metres of retail space.The twin towers will be built on the site of the current Four Seasons Centre in the middle of Kuala Lumpur only a block away from the Petronas Towers, formerly the worlds tallest buildings. The towers feature a futuristic design that gradually tapers as they rise emphasising the height. The main part of the facades extend past the roof, an increasingly popular solution of finishing the top of a skyscraper, particularly if you don't want a fancy crown. Indentions on the corners of the towers where balconies will be act to give texture to it and play with the shadows in direct contrast to the smoother main faces.Perhaps as a direct contradiction of their famous neighbours, they have none of the post-modern theatricality that the Petronas show off and little by the way of overt decoration. The architect has specifically created their more formal appearance to serve as a foil for their outlandish neighbours.There's no date on when the scheme will actually begin on site, it is still under design and negotiations are continuing with the Four Seasons over the hotel element. If the project is realised it's unlikely to begin before 2008.

New Hong Kong Supertall Under Construction

A new 70 floor office skyscraper is underway in the former British colony of Hong Kong, the One Island Estate Center. Originally planned to be a mere 36 floors, the ambitious developer Swire Properties Ltd had the development substantially jacked up in height and redesigned by architect Wong & Ouyang.It will contain 141,000 square metres of space and 59 office floors within the form that bares more than a slight resemblance to the also under construction International Commerce Centre in Kowloon.Like that design, it has offset glass curtain walling and four primary facades that extrude at the top. The differences between the two buildings are found mostly in the lack of tapering in the One Island design and the curving corners that reduce the bulk.The tower will stand over a new public plaza with a vast airy entrance giving the impression that it hovers above the ground adding to the 60 restaurants and cafes already in the area.The supertall building which is reportedly 280 metres to roof and 308 metres tall to the tip of the façade will be the 7th building in Hong Kong over both the 300 metres and 1,000 feet marks showing the Chinese territory has lost none of its appetite for building tall. Completition on site by contractor Gammon Construction is scheduled for March 2008.

Outlandish Designs For Malmo Skyscraper Site

With the Turning Torso having set the mark in Sweden, for futuristic architecture a competition for a development site in Hyllievång, Malmo, is being run that has attracted international attention from architect practises and some outlandish designs from the finalists.The first proposal by White Arkitekter AB from Sweden is for four 90 metre tall irregular prisms, each a residential that stands on the edges of the plot over a central podium marking the corners of what would be an invisble box similar to something Liebskind would design.The second entry is by Austrian Coop Himmelblau, a 220 metre tall tower overlooking a public square that is flanked by an undulating lower-rise building. The tower will again contain residential space, but also a skybar and observation level. Uniquely the tower opens up at the top creating a fold that billows out spiralling over the sides.The third design by Snøhetta AS from Norway is of a single monolithic 200 metre tall block that appears to have been melted by the rays of the sun and sags tiredly. The front will be chequered with irregular patterning of square cladding over a green backdrop whilst edges feature cross bracing that leads to a curving back. As with the other two designs this will also be largely residential.The fourth proposal is by CF Møller from Denmark who has designed a more regularly shaped tower than the competitors, a thin rectangular box reaching 180 metres with multi floored sky lobbies cutting into it breaking up the monotomy of it whilst the skyscraper reaches for its transparent top. This will also be residential.What all the designs share is a wish to be noticed, they are architecture as theatre. That's not a surprising approach for the finalists to take given the aspirations of Malmo to become a showcase for the best in modern architecture with the hunger that the success of Calatrava's Turning Torso has kicked off.Whether any of these designs can repeat the trick remains to be seen but they certainly show off an often avante garde mindset, a sometimes original approach and always that coolness of design that Scandinavia has come to exude in the 25 years since the horror of ABBA.

Legacy Bequeaths Height To Chicago Loop

Chicago is set to get yet another enormous residential tower, the 250.5 metre tall Legacy Tower, designed by Solomon, Cordwell, Buenz and Associates for the Mesa Development Company.Rising 72 floors above ground level, the skyscraper will contain 360 luxury apartment units, 460 parking spaces on basement floors, and 4,000 square metres of space for the School of Art Institute of Chicago.As with Park Michigan, Legacy Tower shows Chicagoans love of the history of their city, it retains the old facades of the building it replaces, Jewelers Row on Wabash Avenue and is set back from the wide podium to preserve the existing streetscape. The podium will have roof gardens on either side flanking the base of the tower, there will also be a sky garden 180 metres up, shown in marketing images with a single very lonely tree.The building is deliberately designed to edge on to Grant Park rather than face it directly to reduce the bulk of the tower from what will be the most commonly viewed angle. The planners in Chicago, who approved Legacy Tower without a single vote against, love slender tall towers rather than simple bulky blocks and try to influence the designs as much as possible to get "soar" with sleek glass and steel. The crown of the tower has a façade overrun with vertical indentations on the surface allowing it to cheat at height and direct the viewers vision even further skywards.In approaching the building as a package the developer took the same approach as Renaissant with Park Michigan by wanting to maximise their views of Grant Park by making the building as tall as they could to make the apartments to appeal as much as possible to purchasers. The current tallest residential building in the famous Chicago Loop is a mere 192 metres but with this, the 251 metre Aqua Tower, Park Michigan at 264 metres the rush for apartment blocks playing on the variation of the theme Legacy is singing shows there must be something going on. Throw into the mix the 319 metre tall Waterview Drive currently under construction and anyone can see huge apartment blocks are finally coming to this part of downtown in a big way. They also help to mark what is a new building boom in the original skyscraper city that will change the skyline profoundly with a near doubling of the number of buildings over 250 metres that can give Hong Kong a run for its money.

Brisbane Australia Sees Towering Vision

Brisbane, Australia is set to soar to new heights with a new 265 metre tall mixed-use building called Vision. Developer Austcorp and the architect the Buchan Group have already worked on an almost identical project for the site that has already been approved by the local planning authorities at 246 metres but the Austcorp now hopes that this will be increased further allowing them to really shatter the local skyscraper record, a mere 207 metres.Vision will contain 72 floors in total consisting of 16 of office space, a total of 27,000 sq m, on the lower part of the tower. Almost all of the rest will be residential units. There will also be several floors of public space near the top whilst the lowest two levels will be retail. This will connect to a public plaza that will have through access to Brisbane City Botanic Gardens.The public facilities within include a top quality restaurant on the 63rd floor with an art gallery above it bringing some high-rise culture to diners with a full stomach and in need of a stroll plus a separate observation deck 200 metres above ground level.The building will be clad, almost entirely in floor to ceiling glazing giving it traits of an eco-tower. The glazing will be double skinned making it more efficient letting in cool air to regulate the temperatures when it's hot and when it's cooler at night this layer of air can act as insulation and reduce heating costs.The sleek sharks fin design and glass curtain walling that curves in at the top corresponding with the spire pushing the height up to 290 metres help to in effect make the top an effective crown rather than simply a roof with a façade overrun and help create a building so appetising that Godzilla would want to add it to his soup. The spire is even crooked to help emphasise this look further, something unusual in the straight up scrapers of today.Demand has already been strong for many of the apartments within the skyscraper, 123 of the 380 it will contain have already been sold however its understood that Austcorp are still about $50 million Aus short before they can get the development underway. Given the current sales rate it shouldn't be too hard for them to receive financing and if everything goes to plan demolition will start on site next month with an immediate construction of the $900 million skyscraper as soon as this is finished.

New Frankfurt Scraper Due For Autumn Start

The recession in the building industry in Frankfurt, Germany, could finally be coming to an end with the impending construction of a new 170 metre tall office tower, Opernturm.Originally planned in 2001 by the Zurich Insurance Company as their new headquarters standing near to the city opera house, the developer pulled out of the project following the current problems that the German economy has been wrestling with from reunification. Tishman Speyer took over the baton in 2003 originally anticipating construction in 2004 but this has since been delayed thanks to the lack of an anchor tenant. However, recently UBS have entered the scene and wish to take about 30,000 square metres of space in the 75,000 sq m project leading to a construction start in September 2006 and occupancy of the tower from the first of January 2010. The project has been designed by German firm, Christoph Mäckler Architekten. It was originally planned to be clad largely in sandstone as to match the Opera House that it will practically share a public square with. Newer designs have seen this watered down substantially with a reduction in expensive stone and increasing amounts of glass, perhaps to save costs and make the project more feasible. Lower costs to the developer have the add advantage of meaning they can charge lower rents and attract tenants more easily, a useful spin-off in a harder economic climate.The lower rise podium that the tower will stand on has been massed to fit in with the surroundings at street level, complete with a post modern neo classical frontage, a rare nod to history in a city that had most of the past bombed out of it in World War 2.Despite these revisions the same monolithic rectangular shape as before remains as does the height. The modern and slightly bland plans may be criticised by some as a building that would belong in sixties New York rather than Frankfurt which is spoilt rotten with futuristic designs but it does have the advantage that it will probably not date as much as the white hot architecture fashions of today.Opernturn will be the tallest building built in Frankfurt since 1999 and the first skyscraper to start construction since Skyper was completed in 2004 in what remains the skyscraper capital of Western Europe. Even with the construction of this new tower, set to be the 11th on the skyline, it's a title it will be losing probably sometime in 2007 to London showing just how much construction levels have declined since the heady days of the 1990s when the five tallest in the city were all built. Still, it shows there is still hope in what has gone from the most lively to depressed of all Europe's major office markets in the space of a less than a decade.

And So It Starts

The first signs that the expected crop of new skyscrapers for the City of London could soon be underway are becoming apparent with initial works being carried out on site.First up the project that's been around the longest - the Heron Tower at 110 Bishopsgate. Although the site is still occupied by Norton Rose the works are now no longer simply being carried out by Thames Water. Contractors, Skanska and Mace are onsite redirecting the services and in particular the sewer to help prepare for a running start to construction. There are also some interesting rumours that the tower might get yet another height increase, but they are still rumours at this stage. It's already had one that boosted it from 183 metres to 202 metres tall, another would presumably knock it up by a further 19 metres.At 122 Leadenhall Street where the Leadenhall Building will be going contactors are now making boreholes on the edges of the site to check out what the soil is like there as the foundations will have to be a whopping 18 metres deep. British Land are eager to get this one off to as quick a start as possible when they take control of the site in early 2007.Finally, at the site of the Bishopsgate Tower, Keltbray have commenced piling. The site is still occupied by Crosby Court so obviously this is not construction, rather we understand that test piles are being driven into the ground first. Once this is completed then Keltbray will begin on the demolition contract will be clearing the site.Bishopsgate Tower developer, DIFA is very unlikely to go for a speculative start for the scheme despite their increasing equity. However it does send a message to potential tenants of the tower that they can start it as soon as possible, something that both British Land and Heron are also trying to do. When you throw into the mix, Land Securities plans for 20 Fenchurch Street, and the Great Portland Estates project that is planned for 80-88 Bishopsgate, then you have an arms race of major developers.All of them have plans to build skyscrapers in the same small area of London appealing to the same sort of clients, making it an interesting game of property poker as they all try and beat each other and get that ace in the deck. Minerva look like becoming the first loser, who will be next?

Southampton Talls Approved

A new 16 floor hotel that could be one of the tallest buildings to be built in the city of Southampton on the south coast of England since the 1960s has been approved by the local council.The Ocean Village Hotel on Ocean Village Marina has been designed by hotel specialists Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo who previously worked on such buildings as Claridges in London. Developers, Millennium Copthorne Group, hope their choice of architect will bring a touch of class to the project. Conservatively clad in reflective blue glass and white render the dock side project will be mainly a four star hotel with 225 bedrooms, however there will also be restaurant, conference facilities and a marina control centre. Sources say that construction for this is due to start later this year.In height terms the scheme might have some competition from Woolston Riverside that was also approved at the very same planning meeting although there is little overlap between the two projects, they are largely complementary of each other in terms of what they offer.Woolston Riverside is a massive development with 6 tall buildings plus many smaller ones, 37 more to be precise. This will contain a mixture of commercial space and an enormous 1,500 new homes including apartments in an 80.5m tall residential tower, all in an attempt to regenerate the former Vosper Thornycroft Shipyard. It's been master-planned by the Richard Rogers Partnership and site owners, the South East England Development Agency, who bought the site for £360 million hope that they can begin construction in 2007. Southampton hasn't had the easiest of times as much of the industry that made it into a city around the docks has vanished leaving large rundown areas that are perfect for development. Commercial success of these two projects could provide initial momentum encouraging further regeneration in the area.

Gensler Brings Dubai Glamour To Blackpool

Architects Gensler, have been hired by developer Re-Blackpool to design their planned casino quarter for the sea-side town in its bid to reinvent itself as the British Las Vegas.The £350 million project will contain a 170,000 square metre development of an 800 room hotel, entertainment and gambling facilities plus a 3000 seat auditorium in a conference centre and 5,000 square metres of exhibition space.The scheme includes a planned tower that Gensler have based on the famous Burj Al Dubai that will be 152 metres high and occupied by a five star hotel.The problem from the review by the Commission for Architecture and Built Environment have on the design of the tall element of the project in particular is the close proximity it will be in with the existing listed Blackpool Tower which they feel whilst not bad in itself makes no case for being next to such a nationally recognised building.The site is currently home to Blackpool's oldest casino, the Grosvenor and stands almost next to the "Golden Mile" the central entertainment area of Blackpool. A planning application is expected to be filed next month on the massive scheme but Blackpool still has to win the eye of the government before it can go-ahead whilst the approach of the developer in trying to secure consent for a tall building from an outline application alone has been slated by CABE.Whether the developers can win their bid with the government despite having come third behind Glasgow and the Millennium Dome in the latest running remains to be seen but to many Blackpool is still by far the favourite to win this race and transform itself from a pokey, windswept venue with Britain's first super casino.

New Tower Planned For Woolwich London

Woolwich in London could be set to get a new tower if proposals to build a 25 floor residential scheme as the landmark of 1,000 new homes gets the go ahead.The tower and the rest of the development, called Love Lane, has had Collado Collins Architects and HLM Architects work as the lead designers. They have designed not only the slender residential building but also new civic offices for the council, a library, hundreds of lower-rise homes and new pedestrian links to take advantage of the future proximity to the DLR station planned for Woolwich Arsenal.The development will also include the largest Tesco shop in Europe, presumably because Tesco feel that London doesn't yet have enough of their stores and there's always room for one bigger. Tesco are also one of the partners in the development, the others being local Greenwich Council and St James but not everyone supports the Love Lane development.In typical NIMBY fashion the management company of the nearby Connaught Mews have lined themselves up to get the scheme slashed down in size as much as possible by whipping their residents into a frenzy.Just in-case people weren't scared of the development they have even gone to the lengths of preparing a photomontage of the Mews with a tower dominating the view. Naturally it isn't an image of THE tower planned but rather a photo-shopped grim sixties-looking tower that already exists nearby, Elliston House by the looks of it... so much for accuracy. There are also concerns not only about the height of the tower, but also about the traffic and increased amounts of pedestrians that the regeneration of an area classified by the government as "disadvantaged relief area" could bring. The tower has already been repositioned further away from the mews after consultation with English Heritage. With this compromise in mind, the broad support of CABE to the master-plan, and the council's stake in the project it's unlikely to be any further hold-ups and unlike Granite Wharf, it's likely to go-ahead without being completely neutered.