7 nov 22 | Archinect

New AS+GG book explores design process behind world’s tallest towers

By Niall Patrick Walsh

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) has published a new book charting the firm’s design and delivery of some of the world’s tallest structures. Titled Supertall | Megatall: How High Can We Go?, the book uses drawings and details from AS+GG’s archives to explore projects from the viewpoint of sustainability, technology, programming, and contextualization.

Among the schemes featured in the book are the Central Park Tower in New York City, the Chengdu Greenland Tower in China, and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which still holds the record of the world’s tallest building.

With only 173 completed supertall buildings around the world, defined as a building whose height measures between 985 and 1,970 feet (300 and 600 meters), AS+GG sees the retrospective look at built precedents as an important tool for informing future high-rise projects.

"To go back and see something that was done 15 years ago, and how that's weathering, or how it's performing, and talking to people about their experience or how the building is functioning is invaluable," Gill told CNN in an interview following the book’s release. "There's no substitute for that."

The book also unpacks the firm’s design for the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia; an ongoing project whose future timeline is still in question. When asked by CNN if construction will resume, Gill said: "Never say never." Details on the Jeddah Tower included in the book cover the story behind the project’s wind tunnel testing, solar radiation mitigation, and water recovery systems.

Accompanying the realized AS+GG projects is a collection of more speculative works, used as a vehicle to imagine the future of supertall architecture. "I don't think a great idea ever goes to waste," Gill told CNN, reflecting on how lessons learned from speculative projects, including mechanical systems, elevators, and fire safety, have informed realized schemes.

"We have an economy of scale that we can introduce ideas that will stick sometimes," Gill added. "As professionals, we have a responsibility to share our knowledge."

News of the book’s release comes weeks after one of the penthouses in AS+GG’s Central Park Tower sold for a record $250 million. The project was also recently honored at the AIA Chicago’s 2022 Design Excellence Award, while the firm’s Xian Tower in China was among the winners of the 2022 International Architecture Awards.