Five Decades of Innovation

When it opened in 1969, 875 North Michigan Avenue (then the John Hancock Center) in Chicago represented cutting-edge construction technology, becoming the first high-rise building to employ a braced-tube structural system; photo courtesy of CTBUH.

In recognition of its founding in 1969, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has spent 2019 looking at the past five decades of skyscraper construction and development, as well as imagining what the next five decades might bring — hence, its 50th anniversary theme, “50 Forward | 50 Back.” The celebration will come to a head at the end of this month with the CTBUH 10th World Congress in Chicago. As in previous events, the congress will feature workshops, presentations, panel discussions and a symposium. The special focus, however, will be “The 50 Most Influential Tall Buildings of the Last 50 Years,” a global roster of landmark structures that, each in its own way, “represented a significant change in thinking or technique” from what came before. The list includes 1969’s 875 North Michigan Avenue (the former John Hancock Center) in Chicago; the Lotte World Tower in Seoul (2017) and the Burj Khalifa (2010), Dubai’s awe-inspiring megatall. Whether it was construction technique, environmental friendliness or outside-the-box architectural design, each building on the list had a notable role in advancing the art and science of the skyscraper, one of humankind’s most iconic creations.

CTBUH is expecting more than 1,500 delegates from at least 45 countries to attend the congress, which opens on October 28. An online registration portal will be open until October 18, so there’s still time to sign up. For more information or to register, visit the CTBUH website’s 2019 program page.

Where’s the Cow Hide Hiding?

A leather-walled elevator in the Bentley Hotel in Manhattan’s Upper East Side

I came across the above elevator interior When in NYC for the International Association of Elevator Consultants New York Region 26th Annual Fundraiser for the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation (look for my story on it in the November issue). You don’t see many like it — walled in (probably synthetic) leather and rivets — and I wondered why. The material gave the cab sophistication despite its age and openness despite its color.

Sadly, you don’t see a lot of leather elevator interiors, even as Google Images search results. One, however, is the below pic from the Luxury in Design blog. This one shows a quilted design that highlights the versatility of the material. So, why isn’t it used much in elevators? It obviously wouldn’t be cheap, but there are plenty of applications for which money’s not much of an object.

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A cab in the Soho Beach House in Miami Beach

Elevator Thriller Gets Stephen King Stamp of Approval

Elevator Pitch is a new novel that “does for elevators what Psycho did for showers and Jaws did for the beach,” according to author Linwood Barclay’s website. These do not seem to be empty words from someone with a vested interest, considering renowned writer Stephen King urged people to “read Elevator Pitch as soon as possible,” calling it “one hell of a suspenseful novel.”

The publication Facilitiesnet observes the thriller uses elevator accidents as a “terrifying” plot device as an unknown killer terrorizes Manhattan by using elevators to murder people, leaving the mayor to decide whether to shut all 70,000 of the city’s commercial elevators down. We here in the “elevator world” know that elevators are among the safest methods of travel, but still, the book looks fun and received positive reviews. If you happen to read it, let us know what you think!