How Big is Too Big? The Implications of Building Tall

May Wei
Vice President
CallisonRTKL, Shanghai

Advances in technology and engineering have made it feasible to build truly awe-inspiring structures. But as the push to densify increases the pressure to build ever taller, it is important not to lose sight of the impact that tall buildings have on our world and our collective psyche. Are three 33-story buildings better than a single tower at 100 stories? Does a narrow, more efficient footprint warrant the development costs of building high into the sky? At what point does the race to build ever higher neglect the human scale and become unsustainable – or does it? This often polarizing argument, centered on the relationship between height and density, has huge implications for the cities of the future.

Using CallisonRTKL’s Performance-Driven DesignSM strategy as context, this presentation provided an in-depth analysis of the social, environmental and economic impact of vertical development and a discussion of potential design alternatives influenced by recent trends in urban planning and design. The goal was to identify responsive and responsible strategies for achieving density, economic viability, and a sustainable quality of life.

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