Conceptualizing the World’s Tallest “Megatall” Building

Gartner Wise Tower

As a preface I would like to give enormous thanks to following persons who have guided and inspired me to think of safer, better and more fun designs.

First and foremost, Leslie Robertson: a structural engineer who inspires everyone who come into his sphere – including me!

Rick Barker: a true genius in elevator engineering and thinking beyond the usual.

Valentine Lehr: a mechanical engineer who shares the passion and drive of this glorious team.

And finally, the developer and owner of the Empire State Building, Anthony Malkin: he has proved that one can make a better return on capital than on any other investment by making buildings perform smarter and more passive. My gratitude to him and his effort to show this to the world at large.

The premise of a quality green and renewable megatall tower is that it is a developer’s extreme “architecture and engineering sport,” and thus exceedingly expensive, only to be done when no other answer suffices to accommodate a program.

The only city that I could see it being done with the right considerations would be Beijing, in a project sponsored by the Chinese Government at the Olympic Stadium site. No Western developer would spend any amount to make it last beyond its usual 50 years. After spending the past decade dwelling on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that I certainly hope NOT to have to build one, and instead focus on renewable healthy buildings, be it housing, offices, or cultural facilities like museums and auditoriums.

Still, People have always had a love affair with tall buildings. From New York to Dubai, Shanghai to Singapore, we keep striving for the next grand exclamation point on the skyline.

But to really make a statement, to build a skyscraper that can reach 3500, even 4000 feet, a building needs to not only be safer than any other; it must also be flexible to meet any possible need, as well as green and renewable to show that landmarks can make a truly grand statement. The cost is such that providing the ability to renovate it when the time comes is truly the only option. The terrible waste of demolishing buildings is not in the interest of any smart, reasonable nation.

I’ve been frustrated with my prior experiences working on skyscrapers, especially trying to work with irrational safety constraints. I took those experiences and started to think about how I would address the problems at hand.

The result is a megatall building I call “Gartner Wise Tower”—an homage to the best curtain wall manufacturer and designer of large, grand and smart projects, Josef Gartner GmbH.

The other influence is survivor of 9-11, thus inspiring me to try to add plenty of exits for catastrophic events. The floor plates are as open, light and fun as I could envision. Leslie Robertson reminded me of this, and I recall working with SOM in their Inland Steel Building. It had the most wonderful two-sided open floor space, and here it is used exclusively in office space, as spaces for housing and hospitality require walls. Naturally, having large floor plates at the top of the structure is an engineering nightmare, and yet that is where they should be in the ideal world.

I am fully aware that the design is thus beyond real.

With a large enough site, there is obviously a possibility of having a wider base and thus better resistance to wind loads and such, but that is a matter of a client’s choice—and not relevant here.

The building is a three-tiered tower based on practical elevatoring, with transfer floors of current technology and speed, each about 1150 feet tall. This allows for a balance between the need and usage in what would be an enormous amount of available space. The star shape also means that each floor quadrant can meet different user group needs, unlike in most contemporary super tall buildings where single core elevators are a major choke point in unexpected events.

In my next blog entry, I’ll dive deeper into the details of my megatall building and address key considerations regarding passive energy technology, safety features and more. Stay tuned for more updates and images coming soon!