Ever since skyscraper construction was conceived developers have continued to push the boundaries to build the biggest and best mega structures imaginable. These giants of construction are constantly reviewed and rewarded by global building information specialist Emporis in its annual skyscraper award which has been running since 2000.
The award winners are selected from skyscrapers completed in the previous year and more than 220 skyscrapers were considered for the prize this time around.
The winner was Frank Gehry’s first venture into skyscraper design, in a city where you may think you have seen it all: 8 Spruce Street. Also known as “The Beekman” or “New York by Gehry,” the building impressed the judges with its undulating steel facade which embraced radical new construction techniques in the skyscraper industry.
The 76 floor tower stands just south of the Brooklyn Bridge. It stretches to 867 feet tall and at 1.1 million square feet in area, it’s the world’s largest residential tower. It is a mixed-use building offering 903 residential units, high-end services, as well as a school and ambulatory care center for the New York Downtown hospital.
Construction took five years and the cladding, designed to evoke the appearance of fabric draping over the building according to Gehry, is comprised of 10,500 stainless steel panels of different shapes. In addition each apartment on the north side has a bay window that is not vertically aligned to its neighbor and each apartment is configured differently to fit the building’s seven-sided design. By contrast the south side has a flat panel design that serves to strengthen the structural composition.
The stainless steel and glass façade of 8 Spruce Street gives the building a sense of movement and is testament to the innovative structural engineering solutions applied in its construction. The building is reinforced concrete with cast-in-place concrete flat plate floors supported by reinforced concrete columns and shear walls. The lateral wind and seismic activity system is reinforced concrete shear walls which wrap around the building’s core. With all of the shear walls centralized around the core no walls are required to run through residential floors providing unobstructed design space.
To meet the challenge of the undulating façade with its different layouts for each floor, “walking” columns are placed on different locations and levels throughout, but some are consistently located on similar planes every 8 to 12 floors. These accommodate the different footprints of the floor plates and the subsequent changing slab edges throughout. Walking columns “broaden” or “walk” on the different floors to provide cohesion with the column located above or below, this meant that engineers could avoid using any sloping columns throughout the undulating construction.
The five floors at the base of the building are clad in brick, as Gehry wanted the façade to be in the spirit of the neighboring buildings. Venturing inside, oval-shaped concrete columns are also used in the aesthetic finish of the interior lobby, these were created by using custom-designed, 19 foot tall, fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP).
According to the Emporis Jury: “8 Spruce Street stands out even in Manhattan’s remarkable skyline … it is a major new architectural landmark for New York.”
The Al Hamra Tower in Kuwait and Etihad Towers in the United Arab Emirates took out second and third place in the Awards respectively.