Page B2.1 . 09 July 2003                     
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    Building Tall

    by Rowland J. Mainstone

    Since the 1980s, architects of tall buildings have sought variety in geometric massing and silhouette, coupled sometimes with a striving for height for its own sake and not just as a way of increasing floor area on a restricted site. Economy in the costs of construction seems sometimes to have been considered less important than before.

    One example of the trend is the multifaceted Bank of China Building by I.M. Pei in Hong Kong. This is a novel exploitation of the architectural potential of three-dimensional truss support, with successive lateral contractions giving an irregular spire-like form.

    A further development has been the use of concrete at heights where only steel was previously used for the main supporting structure. An early example of this was the Frankfurt Messeturm by Murphy Jahn.

    In the Messeturm, a stiff core is linked to an external perforated wall. A transfer structure was called for above the entrance level. The Messeturm was followed by the linked twin Petronas Towers by Cesar Pelli in Kuala Lumpur, which are almost 500 feet (150 meters) higher, excluding slender spires at the top. In the Messeturm, however, steel was used for the floors to speed construction.

    Triangulation for Strength

    A later Frankfurt structure, the Commerzbank by Foster and Partners, is less easy to classify. But it has strong affinities with the column-and-beam framed tube. The chief differences are that the tubes have wide openings at intervals that extend over four stories and include the principal walls of three core-like structures.   >>>

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    This article is excerpted from Developments in Structural Form by Rowland J. Mainstone, with permission of the publisher, Architectural Press.



    ArchWeek Image

    The Commerzbank in Frankfurt, Germany, by Foster and Partners.
    Image: Rowland J. Mainstone

    ArchWeek Image

    Piled foundation of the Commerzbank by Foster and Partners, engineered by Arup. The tower's weight is distributed by a deep cellular substructure to 111 large-diameter piles cast in place in prebored holes. The foundation was designed to minimize settlements and interference with nearby structures.
    Image: Arup


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