vanity height

CTBUH illustration showing vanity heights of contemporary supertalls…

A cloudy day in Rome, so back to skyscrapers for a second.

Blair Kamin has weighed in on the CTBUH’s pending designation of One World Trade, and he suggests that its spire may not count toward its final height–the argument of my New York Times op-ed back in May.

That’s as you’d expect from the city’s reigning architecture critic, but the plot thickens; the CTBUH now has a term for the phenomenon described, namely “vanity height.”  And they’ve published a data-driven report that talks about the empty/wasted space involved in building spires and other elements that simply reach for height (seriously–download this, it’s impressive).  The ‘vainest’ building?  The Ukraina Hotel in Moscow, which is 42% spire.  One World Trade isn’t included, but it would, by my reckoning, clock in at nearly 25%.

This isn’t just a Chicago/New York dead horse being flogged, either–that empty space is expensive, in terms of construction cost and in terms of embodied and life cycle energy costs.  The CTBUH’s decision could very well influence supertall clients and designers to design more efficient buildings by simply not including vanity tops–saving millions of dollars and keeping resources in the ground.

The decision, according to Kamin’s article, is now expected in November…

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