Core Conference Program Travels to Guangzhou

Guangzhou International Finance Center

Guangzhou International Finance Center

On the night of Tuesday October 18, following the conclusion of the second day of programming in Shenzhen, many conference delegates boarded buses to make the roughly two-hour trip to Guangzhou.

Travelling from Shenzhen through Dongguan and onto Guangzhou at dusk, attendees took in the evening scenery of the greater Pearl River Delta area from the comfort of the open roads. Most impressive was the virtually uninterrupted urban development that unfolded across the approximately 140-kilometer trip, underscoring the significant urbanization that defines the region and anchors the 2016 conference theme. The journey was also impressive for another reason, as it marked the first time that the main program of a CTBUH conference transitioned between cities.

Morning Off-Site Programs Highlight Guangzhou’s Urban Habitat

Canton Tower

Canton Tower

R&F Yingkai Square

R&F Yingkai Square

For those in Guangzhou, the morning of Day Three consisted of several off-site programs. The majority of the programs were held within walking distance of the city’s central business district, including R&F Yingkai Square, which hosted a session titled “Zhujiang New Town – Guangzhou’s New Central Business District.” As the name suggests, this session examined the growing business district that is organized around Huacheng Square. Attendees learned about the history of the area’s development, including the importance of the square as a green “lung” at the center of the city. They were further briefed on the development of R&F Yingkai Square before being given a tour of the recently completed skyscraper.

Pearl River Tower

Pearl River Tower

At the same time, attendees to “The World’s Tallest Observation Decks” session travelled across the Zhujiang River to Canton Tower for their morning programming. Although not a skyscraper, Canton Tower remains the tallest man-made structure in Guangzhou at 604 meters, making it a perfect location to discuss the engineering design of Canton Tower, thyssenkrupp’s under-construction elevator test tower, and the rejuvenation of the observation deck function around the world.

Other simultaneous off-site programs visited the premises of Poly Real Estate Headquarters, TaiKoo Hui Tower, and Pearl River Tower – each offering a robust combination of informational sessions and site tours.

Day Three Plenaries Investigate Development Patterns in Guangzhou and Around the Globe

KPF Director Florence Chan

KPF Director Florence Chan

In the afternoon, all Guanghzou attendees travelled together across Huacheng Square to Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre, the tallest skyscraper in the city, for the remaining afternoon programming, which consisted of six presentations across two plenary sessions. The first batch of presentations focused on developments in Guangzhou, with specific focus on Guangzhou CTF, Guangzhou Linhe Office, and Pearl River New Town. KPF Director Florence Chan spoke eloquently about the design and construction of Guangzhou CTF, describing the rationale behind the building’s setbacks and programmatic mix as well as its transport connectivity. When asked about the future of development in China, and what it would take for China to begin undertaking major projects without foreign expertise, Chan offered key insights regarding the need to elevate the importance of execution to the same level as design quality. Chan stated, “It’s something that the Chinese construction industry [and architects] need to catch up on. It’s the attention that you not only just pay to the quality of the renderings, it goes down to the very last detail of the building – because I see a lot of example which were great ideas on paper, but when it comes down to execution it becomes a little bit of a disappointment.”

Plenary 5, "Beyond Guangzhou: Other Settings," left to right: Vince Pirrello, Woods Bagot; Chris Wilkinson, WilkinsonEyre; William Murray, Wordsearch; David Tickle, HASSELL

Plenary 5, “Beyond Guangzhou: Other Settings,” left to right: Vince Pirrello, Woods Bagot; Chris Wilkinson, WilkinsonEyre; William Murray, Wordsearch; David Tickle, HASSELL

While the afternoon’s first session focused primarily on Guangzhou and specific developments in the city, the second afternoon session expanded its scope to examine similar questions of development outside of the Pearl River Delta. Presentations here focused on large-scale developments, with reflections varying from the architectural perspective, as offered by Chris Wilkinson, Principal & Founding Partner, WilkinsonEyre; from a marketing viewpoint, as passionately imparted by William Murray, Group Director of Strategy, Wordsearch; and from the viewpoint of high-rise experimentation, as presented by David Tickle, Principal, HASSELL.

In his work, William Murray is charged with the daunting task of communicating and marketing the underlying philosophy of tall building developments to the general public. As such, Murray has a unique position from which to suggest how high-rise architecture can be more successful on a holistic level. He used the analogy of a rooted tree to make a succinct point in this regard, saying “One of the criticisms I have is that we consistently think about the object, as a thing on a piece of paper that can be 3D printed and held in your hand. That is the trunk of the tree, and there are lots of leaves and benefits. What we have to think about is the root of the tree – it’s that stuff that goes underneath and collects into our lives in lots of different ways.”

Guangzhou Program Caps Off with CTF Networking Session

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Day Three of the conference drew to a close with the second networking reception – kindly hosted and sponsored by New World Development – held at the top of Guangzhou CTF. The occasion served not only as the next in a series of high-flying CTBUH receptions, but as a launch party for a new publication by New World Development and a highly attended commemoration of Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre’s contribution to the city. As such, the CTBUH delegation joined with guests of New World Development to not only celebrate a skyscraper or a conference, but to acknowledge and reinforce a collaborative relationship with colleagues in China. The event featured numerous high-profile figures, including Guangzhou Deputy Mayor Cai Chao Lin; Jingtang He, Member, Chinese Academy of Engineering, and President, Architectural Design and Research Institute of South China University of Technology; Peter Cheng, Executive Director, New World Development; and Gary Chen, Joint General Manager, New World Development.

Shenzhen Off-Site Programs Provide Local Context to Day One and Two Programming

Jon K. Galsworthy, RWDI

Jon K. Galsworthy, RWDI, presenting at Ping An Finance Center

While the core conference program moved on to Guangzhou for Day Three, a sizeable contingent of delegates remained in Shenzhen for a day of off-site programming. In total, eight unique programs were offered over two sessions at high-profile skyscraper developments throughout the city. In the morning, delegates had the opportunity to travel to the recently completed Ping An Finance Center for a session focused on engineering the world’s tallest towers, an apt theme for programming in Shenzhen’s tallest building (and one of the 10 tallest in the world).

Another morning program saw delegates travelling to Tencent Seafront Towers, where presentations by Ivan Wan, Executive Manager, Tencent Holdings Limited, and Jonathon Ward, Design Partner, NBBJ, elucidated the forward-thinking architecture of this office building, designed to adapt a suburban corporate campus for a vertical setting.

Afternoon programs were similarly diverse in their offerings. At KK100, presenters discussed the various elements that go into designing the tops of towers, while fittingly enjoying the setting at the top of Shenzhen’s former tallest tower. Meanwhile, sessions at Shum Yip Upperhills, Shenzhen Zhongzhou Financial Center, and One Shenzhen Bay all focused on the unique design and development history of the respective projects.

Scenes from the Day