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Efficiency: An Analytical Approach to Tall Buildings

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This fall, Gary Haney and Aybars Asci of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in New York, lead a graduate research studio entitled “An Analytical Framework for Tall Office Towers.

They took the approach that the concept of efficiency is critical to the design process of tall buildings, because of; a) their large scale b) their repetitive components and c) their extreme verticality. Large-scale projects have large quantities, which have significant environmental and material implications. Similar to designing an industrial product, high level of repetition in tall buildings demands a careful design process for the individual component. In a way, tall buildings can be seen as a propagation of a well-designed integer. Extreme verticality requires a high level of engineering input. Tall buildings perform like a sophisticated machine.

This research the students produced can read in two ways: one as a study of concept and the second as a study of building typology. In the first reading, the research is a study of efficiency. Student had the goal of trying to create a common language to describe what is meant by the term efficiency and developed their own manifestoes on the concept that resulted in three formulated trajectories for the idea: time, performance and adaptability.

For the second reading of the research, the study of office towers, the students broke the individual attributes of the tower into what they called “genes,” which they then organized into categories: spatial, structural and environmental.  By treating each individual attribute in this manner, the students were able to establish a comprehensive understanding of each characteristic. Student explored concepts like density, vertical commute, curtain wall units, shadow area and more to develop of comprehensive understanding of all the factors relating the design and construction of tall buildings.

Nine building that covered a range of conditions were used as case studies for the students to dissect and mine for information. They cataloged the information they found to create a database from which to work off of in the pursuit of the research and for the own thesis projects to be conducted in the spring semester.

See the research publication “Efficiency:An Analytical Framework for Tall Office Towers” here