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Almost everywhere they are built, high-rise buildings cease to be fortresses of glass and concrete. The approach to high-rise architecture and the roles they are designated within the public space have both evolved. With openness to the neighbourhood, emphasis on community building and environmental stewardship, skyscrapers are without doubt much friendlier spaces today than a decade or two ago. The PLACES + SPACES “The Art of Tall Building” event organised by the Urban Land Institute Poland in Warsaw was attended by architects from leading international studios, as well as European investors and real-estate developers.
“Precipitated by climate change, the general population growth and migration to large cities force us to rethink how to optimally use land in central districts of the largest metropolitan areas. Smart urban densification and adopting a human approach to dense high-rise development should be the priorities for urban planners, architects and real-estate developers.” This view was expressed at PLACES + SPACES by Kent Jackson, Design Partner at Skidmore Owings and Merrill LPP (SOM), an international studio that contributed to buildings such as the tallest structure in the world Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Willis Tower in Chicago, and One World Trade Center in New York.
As stressed by Bill Price, Director of Strategic Growth at the global engineering professional services firm WSP, who participated in the early design development stages of the Shard, “There’s no good reason why new skyscrapers shouldn’t offer an excellent public space that everyone can use. It’s also worth mentioning that building skyscrapers can often involve regenerating neglected areas, and high-rise development can also be based on converting, repurposing and extending existing tall buildings.”
An example of a project that has remained open to the neighbourhood despite its great height and scale was presented by James Goldsmith, Head of Leasing at AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets, who is overseeing the lease of 22 Bishopsgate – a 278-metre tower developed in the City of London. “Inclusivity, the well-being of all users, knowledge sharing, and environmental stewardship are all aspects we care about at 22 Bishopsgate. Community spaces in our building such as the coworking and event space, flexible offices for lease, the gym or the viewing platform make our building a vertical office campus rather than a typical high-rise,” James Goldsmith said.
A similar case from Poland was presented by Peter Pecnik, Country CEO Poland at HB Reavis, a company developing Varso Place, a complex of three towers in Warsaw: “Every high-rise starts on the ground floor. This is why we made sure the Varso Place buildings are open in nature. The spacious lobby and freely accessible ground floors essentially invite passers-by inside, offering something to suit all tastes”.
“The masterplan for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center post 9/11 was perhaps one of the most complicated planning processes in modern history. The plan had to balance both the gravity of what happened, as well as the developmental and financial needs of the site. The studio’s plan balanced the needs of the various stakeholders taking into account high-rise development and the historical context of the place.” – recalled Yama Karim, Partner at Studio Libeskind at the PLACES + SPACES event.
The subject of high-rise buildings concluded the second series of PLACES + SPACES meetings organised by the Polish branch of the Urban Land Institute. ULI plans to continue the series throughout 2020, with more details to follow soon.
The previous PLACES + SPACES series was supported by Greenberg Traurig, Skanska, Colliers International, Cushman & Wakefield, Dentons, Echo Investment, Ghelamco, Globalworth, Hines and Vastint. Thank you!