Would Wood Be Good?

Of all the recent advances in tall-building construction, perhaps the most counterintuitive is the nascent move toward wood as the primary material for high-rise towers. Yes, wood construction is environmentally friendly. It comes from trees that trap atmospheric carbon dioxide (a gas that, most scientists say, is the cause of manmade climate change); it’s a renewable resource; and, according to experts, the manufacturing process for wooden building products emits less carbon than that for any other material used in construction.

But, wood isn’t as strong as steel and concrete, right? And, an even bigger concern: wood burns. It’s not hard to imagine a giant timber tower being quickly devoured by flames. It’s an image that’s hard to shake.

A recent article posted on the website Fast Company, however, may put these fears to rest. In it, author Jesus Diaz tells of Mjøstårnet, an 18-story, 265-ft.-tall project being built in Brumunddal, Norway, that will soon be the world’s tallest all-wood building. With the help of a five-part mini-documentary produced by construction company Moelven, we learn that the latest engineered-wood building materials are both strong and fire-resistant. We also learn of innovative construction techniques being employed on this jobsite.

It’s not likely that wood will replace steel and concrete in every future high-rise project. But, it does appear to be a viable option for many types of buildings.

thyssenkrupp CEOs Take Themselves Out to the Ballgame

thyssenkrupp Elevator recently inked a deal with the Atlanta Braves to establish its thyssenkrupp Americas complex, including what will be the tallest elevator test tower in the U.S., on property just north of downtown Atlanta. Housing more than 800 employees, the new complex will be within a stone’s throw of SunTrust Park, home of the National Baseball League’s Braves. Company executives took the opportunity to watch a Braves game when they were in town for the announcement, and Communications Specialist Dennis Van Milligan captured this video of thyssenkrupp Elevator CEO Andreas Schierenbeck and thyssenkrupp Elevator Americas CEO Rich Hussey taking in some of the action, being welcomed by the announcer, and checking themselves out on the jumbotron!

Going Down: The Tallest Buildings Ever Demolished

This is a portion of an infographic that explains the CTBUH’s TBIN report, “Tallest Demolished Buildings,” which is available in the “CTBUH Journal, 2018 Issue II.”

Here at ELEVATOR WORLD, we think a lot about new skyscrapers going up. After all, it was the invention of the elevator that made anything much taller than three or four floors feasible as a place to live or work. Plus, every time a tall building is announced, it means more work for the elevator industry, so of course it’s of interest.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) naturally thinks about new skyscraper construction, as well, but in a new “Tall Buildings in Numbers” (TBIN) research study, the organization has identified the 100 tallest buildings ever to be purposely demolished. The resulting report examines these structures, as well as some of the reasons for bringing them down. The study also confirms that, if plans proceed as reported, 270 Park Avenue in New York City (NYC) will become the tallest building ever conventionally demolished, as well as the first building over 200 m in height to be peacefully razed.

Currently, the tallest building ever conventionally demolished is the Singer Building in NYC, which stood at 187 m and 41 stories tall until 1968, when it was torn down to make way for One Liberty Plaza. In fact, the study shows that the majority of the world’s 100 tallest demolished buildings were torn down to make way for new skyscrapers. Land constraints in dense cities and the potential for greater financial return than the current building offers can factor heavily in the decision to demolish a high-rise building, the report notes.

“In many cases, it does make sense to tear down and replace a high rise, especially if it’s outlived its practical usage,” said CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood. “However, there are currently more than 1,300 buildings of over 200 m in height around the globe, and counting. Considering the tallest demolished building to date was only 187 m tall, there’s really no precedent for tearing down 200-m-plus towers. We should perhaps thus be thinking of tall buildings as perpetual entities with lifecycles potentially exceeding 100 or 200 years, while designing them in such a way that they can be creatively adapted for potential future uses.”

According to the study, the average lifespan of the 100 tallest demolished buildings is only 41 years. North American cities account for 53 percent of the buildings, and more than a quarter of the 100 tallest demolished buildings were built between 1890 and 1920. At 24%, nearly as many of these high rises were built in the 1970s.

The full report is in the CTBUH Journal, 2018 Issue II.