The Structure of Skyscrapers in America 1871-1900:
Their History and Preservation

RSVP Tue, Jan 19, 2021 at 6:00 PM
In this new book, The Structure of Skyscrapers in America, 1871–1900, historian and structural engineer Donald Friedman presents a thorough history of the development of high-rise buildings, not only in New York and Chicago but across the country in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Providing a rich historical context for the emergence of the skyscraper, he details the range of the technical aspects of the construction of this new building type.

Donald Friedman, co-founder of Old Structures Engineering, has thirty years of experience as a structural engineer, working on both the construction of new buildings and the renovation of existing structures. He has taught at the Pratt Institute, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute School of Architecture, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. He is the author of numerous articles for technical publications and five books on construction, renovation, and engineering.

Shenzhen and Seoul:
China Resources Tower & Lotte World Tower

RSVP Tue, Jan 26, 2021 at 6:00 PM
James von Klemperer,FAIA RIBA

Design Principal and President, KPF

As President of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, James von Klemperer leads the New York-based firm responsible for eleven of the towers included in our exhibition Supertall! 2020– which comprises about 20 percent of all the skyscrapers of 380 meters in the world today. Jamie is the design principal for three supertalls: the 555-meter Lotte World Tower in Seoul; China Resources Tower, the 393-meter headquarters in Shenzhen; and New York’s 1,401 ft./ 427m. One Vanderbilt.

In addition to creating skyline-defining forms, Jamie’s work focuses on the role large buildings play in making urban space. He has explored this theme in major projects in Asia, including Plaza 66 and the Jing An Kerry Centre in Shanghai, and China Central Place in Beijing. China Resources Tower in Shenzhen crowns the larger, KPF-planned development that connect retail, residential, and offices with public space and the city’s greenbelt and waterfront and Lotte World Tower anchors at its base complex of mall spaces for entertainment, shopping and special events. Embedded in the dense urban fabric of Midtown Manhattan, One Vanderbilt creates new zones of public space and amenities and greatly enhances access to Grand Central Terminal.

James von Klemperer is President and Design Principal at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates where he began as a young architect in 1983, and is now responsible for leading the staff of 700+ people in 9 offices around the world. Educated at Harvard College, Trinity College Cambridge,

Guiyang WTC Landmark Tower:
“Precious Sun,” A Story of Trade Routes and Supertalls

RSVP Tue, Feb 2, 2021 at 6:00 PM
Scott Duncan,AIA, LEED® AP

Design Partner, SOM

Scott Duncan is a partner in SOM’s Chicago office, where he leads the design of high-rise and mixed-use projects locally and around the world. Since joining SOM in 1998, he has championed the firm’s vision for integrated design, leading interdisciplinary teams that focus on research on quality of life, planetary health, and improving cities.

His portfolio includes Central Place Sydney; 600 Lonsdale, a solar-responsive, biophilic mixed-use high rise in Melbourne; the Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank Headquarters, a naturally ventilated tower in Bao’an, Shenzhen; and a 500-meter tower in Nanjing, China, just beginning construction. Duncan also plays a key role in the firm’s commitment to Chicago, where he is currently leading the designs of several large-scale mixed-use projects, including 400 Lake Shore Drive, Lincoln Yards, and 330 North Green Street.

Duncan serves as Chair of the Height and Data Committee of the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat and is a member of the Board of Directors of the SOM Foundation, as well as a leader of The Earth Project, SOM’s multidisciplinary research project on planetary health. Educated at Lehigh University and at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Scott frequently lectures at design schools and serves as a guest critic.






Book cover of Modern Mobility Aloft

Modern Mobility Aloft:
Elevated Highways, Architecture, and Urban Change in Pre-Interstate America

RSVP Tue, Feb 9, 2021 at 6:00 PM
In Modern Mobility Aloft: Elevated Highways, Architecture, and Urban Change in Pre-Interstate America, Amy Finstein reveals the utopian roots of elevated highway designs in the first half of the twentieth century, connecting built projects in New York, Chicago, and Boston to high-style and popular discourse about cities of the future. Highlighting New York’s role in this pattern, she introduces us to the architects and sculptor responsible for the West Side Elevated Highway, who also were designing iconic Manhattan skyscrapers. Finstein will discuss how New York’s experience connects to a broader pattern of design that synthesized local concerns for economic vitality, urban movement, and architectural modernity via the sinewy forms of elevated highways.

Amy D. Finstein is an architectural and urban historian who teaches in the Department of Visual Arts at College of the Holy Cross.

CTF Tianjin

RSVP Tue, Feb 16, 2021 at 6:00 PM
Brian Lee,FAIA

Consulting Partner, SOM

Brian Lee, now a consulting partner, practiced in the SOM’s San Francisco office for 28 years before joining the Chicago office in 2007. Lee has designed landmark structures around the globe, including projects in East and Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Among his award-winning high-rise projects are the China World Trade Center, the centerpiece of Beijing’s Central Business District, and Poly International Plaza in Guangzhou, China, and the 530-meter supertall, Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Binhai Centre.

Tianjin CTF Finance Centre dominates the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA), located just outside Tianjin, the coastal city south of Beijing that is China’s fifth largest metropolis. The sleek tower, unique among uses undulating curves that subtly express three programmatic elements: offices on the broad lower floors, serviced apartments in the shaft above, and a luxury hotel in the tapering top floors. The curtain wall of gently curving glass conceals the innovative structural system of eight sloping columns that increase the structure’s stiffness in response to seismic concerns. Multistory wind vents combined with the tower’s aerodynamic shape reduce vortex shedding, which in turn dramatically minimizes wind forces.

Lee’s design approach is focused on achieving full integration of the natural and built environment through the most innovative design forms, materials, and construction technologies. Brian received his BA in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley in 1976 and his Master of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1978.


CITIC/China Zun

RSVP Tue, Feb 23, 2021 at 6:00 PM
Robert C. Whitlock,FAIA

Principal, KPF

With three decades experience at the firm, Robert Whitlock is one of KPF’s foremost designers of high-rise towers, mixed-use developments, and large-scale master plans. He is the design principal for three supertalls in our exhibition: Suzhou International Finance Square, a 450-meter signature tower of the ancient Chinese city; Chongqing International Trade and Commerce Center, a 475-meter tower that anchors a development for Shui On Land in the megacity of southwestern China; and CITIC Tower, at 528 meters the tallest building in Beijing. Also known as China Zun after the flaring form of a Bronze-Age ritual vessel, the 109-story tower is the headquarters of CITIC Group, a state-owned investment company.

Whitlock focuses his high-rise and mixed-use master plan designs on density, public space, programmatic integration, and the influences of these elements on the quality and sustainability of the “multi-layered city.”  His projects for the Shenzhen Chegongmiao District and Greenland Bund Centre in Shanghai explore new ways of creating active urban spaces. In Hong Kong, he led the design of Hysan Place, the city’s first LEED Platinum building that provides elevated public gardens and draws prevailing breezes though the site. In Singapore, his design for 18 Robinson integrates green space vertically throughout the structure.

Educated at the University of Virginia and Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation, Rob is a Fellow of the AIA and presenter at numerous conferences.




Kuala Lumpur:
Merdeka 118

RSVP Tue, Mar 2, 2021 at 6:00 PM
Karl Fender,OAM

Founding Partner, Fender Katsalidis

Melbourne-based architect Karl Fender is the designer of the two tallest buildings in his skyscraper-friendly native city, the 297-meter Eureka Tower, completed in 2006, and Australia 108, completed in 2020 at the height of 317 meters. He is also the architect of the 118-story Merdeka 118, now under construction in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which at 644 meters/2,113 ft. to the tip of its spire will become the world’s second tallest building after Burj Khalifa.

Karl is the cofounder with his partner Nonda Katsalidis of the firm Fender Katsalidis, based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and now with additional studios in Sydney and Brisbane. He is also Co-Director of the London Studio and Group Chairman of Arney Fender Katsalidis, founded in 2013 as a sister studio of Fender Katsalidis. Karl began his career as a design assistant for Robin Boyd – an important Melbourne modernist, then worked as an architect in London and Rome, before returning to school to take a Masters degree at Harvard’s GSD. Thereafter he worked extensively throughout Southeast Asia.

The Invention of Public Space:
Designing for Inclusion in Lindsay’s New York

RSVP Tue, Mar 9, 2021 at 6:00 PM
In The Invention of Public Space: Designing for Inclusion in Lindsay’s New York, Mariana Mogilevich details a watershed moment when designers, government administrators, and residents sought to remake New York City in the image of a diverse, free, and democratic society. Bringing together psychology, politics, and design, her new book considers a broad array of projects in open spaces to affirm the value of city life in a moment of “urban crisis,” and reveals the emergence of a concept of public space that remains today a powerful, if unrealized, aspiration.

Mariana Mogilevich is a historian of architecture and urbanism. She is editor-in-chief of Urban Omnibus, the online publication of The Architectural League of New York, and has taught at New York University, Princeton University, Pratt Institute and Cornell University.

Burj Khalifa:
What We Learned

RSVP Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 6:00 PM
Bill Baker,PE, SE, FASCE, FIStructE, NAE, FREng

Consulting Partner, SOM

Bill Baker is a structural engineering partner at SOM where he has led the firm’s practice for over 20 years. Since joining SOM in 1981, he has dedicated himself to extending the profession of structural engineering through design, research, teaching, and professional activities.

Baker is best known for the development of the “buttressed core” structural system for the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest manmade structure. Completed in 2010, the 828-meter Burj surpassed the then-tallest Taipei 101 by more than 300 meters. This unprecedented vertical leap was accomplished by iterative responses to wind-tunnel testing and other creative solutions to constructability. In his talk, Bill will discuss both the precedents that allowed their team to invent a new structural approach, as well as the legacy of “Lessons Learned” a decade after the completion of the skyscraper that still remains the world’s tallest manmade structure.

Active with numerous professional organizations and institutions of higher learning, Bill Baker has received many honors, including three honorary doctorates; the Gold Medal from the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Outstanding Projects and Leaders Lifetime Award for Design; the Gustav Magnel Gold Medal from the University of Ghent; the Fazlur Rahman Khan Medal from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat; and the Fritz Leonhardt Preis (Germany). He is a Fellow of both the ASCE and the IStructE, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering (United States) and an International Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (United Kingdom).

Core Value

RSVP Tue, Mar 23, 2021 at 6:00 PM
Peter Weismantle,FAIA

Director of Supertall Building Technology, AS+GG

Peter Weismantle spent 31 years in the Chicago office of SOM before moving in 2008 to AS+GG as Director of Supertall Building Technology where he has been responsible for overseeing the firm’s development of supertall projects from onset to completion. Working with the project team, Weismantle develops the design of such technical elements as the building envelope, vertical transportation and life safety systems, and compliance with applicable building codes and standards.

At SOM, Peter served as Senior Technical Architect on path-breaking supertalls, including Shanghai’s Jin Mao Tower and Burj Khalifa. More recent projects at AS+GG include Wuhan Greenland Center, Chengdu Greenland Tower, at 468 meters, the tallest building in southwestern China and the fourth-tallest in the nation. Peter led the design team for the building technology aspects of Jeddah Tower, a 167 story, 1000+ meter, mixed-use building in Saudi Arabia which, if completed as planned, will surpass Burj Khalifa as the tallest building in the world.

Educated at Lehigh University for his B.A. and the University of Pennsylvania for his Master of Architecture, Peter has published widely and presented many lectures on issues of tall building engineering, sustainability, and life safety systems. He has been a leader on professional committees, including several of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

Pure Bearing Wall

RSVP Tue, Mar 30, 2021 at 6:00 PM

Principal, Thornton Tomasetti

Structural engineer Robert Sinn is a Principal in the Chicago office of Thornton Tomasetti. Before joining TT in 2007, Bob spent more than two decades at SOM, where he was responsible for such award-winning projects as the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, and Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, which when completed was the tallest all-concrete building in North America. Recent project credits include the 245-meter Federation of Korean Industries headquarters (2014) in Seoul, South Korea, the Al Wasl Plaza for Expo 2020 in Dubai, UAE, topped by a translucent dome that spans 130 meters.

Sinn led the structural design team for Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Tower, which if completed as planned will be the first man-made structure to reach a height of one kilometer. As he has explained in lectures on the megatower, the three-legged buttressed core is developed as a pure bearing wall system where all gravity loads are carried entirely by reinforced concrete walls. According to Bob, the structure of the first structure deigned to exceed 3,200 feet is “simplicity itself.”

Educated in Civil Engineering at Northwestern University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bob is a fellow of the American Concrete Institute, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineering.

Book cover of Wright and New York: The Making of America's Architect by Anthony Alofsin. Copyright Yale University Press.

Wright and New York:
The Making of America’s Architect

RSVP Tue, Apr 6, 2021 at 6:00 PM
Wright and New York turns upside down the conventional notion that Frank Lloyd Wright hated the city, and the city was antagonistic to him. In this illustrated lecture based on his new book, Anthony Alofsin outlines the developments in Wright’s life and work that demonstrate how New York turned around his career in the late 1920s and early 1930s to position him for the glory—and branding—of his final decades. The talk focuses on Wright’s visionary design for an immense Modern Cathedral to serve all religions and for the skyscraper, he designed for the church of St. Marks-in-the-Bouwerie in New York’s East Village.

Anthony Alofsin, FAIA, is the Roland Roessner Centennial Professor of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. A practicing architect and art historian, he is known internationally as a leading expert on Frank Lloyd Wright. The author of a dozen books ranging on subjects from the architecture of the late Austro-Hungarian Empire to the history of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, he has also written review essays for the Times Literary Supplement, The Atlantic, and The Burlington Magazine.

Placeholder Title

RSVP Tue, Apr 13, 2021 at 6:00 PM
Mark Sarkisian,PE, SE, FACI, F.ASCE, FIABSE

Structural and Seismic Engineering Partner, SOM

Mark Sarkisian is an American structural engineer. He is the Partner of seismic and structural engineering in the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. He is notable for designing many landmark high rise buildings in USA, China and the middle east.

Chengdu Greenland:
A Non-coplanar Exoskeleton

RSVP Tue, Apr 20, 2021 at 6:00 PM
Dennis Poon,PE

Vice Chairman, Thornton Tomasetti

Dennis Poon has more than four decades of experience in the design and analysis of a wide variety of building types, such as supertall and megatall structures, mixed-use developments, hotels, airports, arenas and residential towers worldwide. He specializes in the application of state-of-the-art engineering technologies for building analysis, design and construction, including project delivery strategies. Dennis has extensive experience in seismic design, structural investigations and optimization of structural systems. In addition to his responsibilities as vice chairman, he leads projects throughout the world and is in charge of offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Ho Chi Minh City. Dennis also seeks to push the boundaries with cutting-edge projects. He headed up the team that provided structural engineering and analysis to AI Space Factory for a Mars habitat prototype, which won NASA and Bradley University’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge.

Lakhta Center

Tue, Apr 27, 2021 at 6:00 PM
Ahmad Abdelrazaq

Vice President, Samsung C&T Corp

Executive Director, Highrise Building and Structural Engineering Divisions, Samsung Corporation.









Book cover of "Building Brands: Corporations and Modern Architecture" by Grace Ong Yan

Building Brands:
Corporations and Modern Architecture

RSVP Tue, May 11, 2021 at 6:00 PM
As the first in-depth book to explore the role of branding in the design of corporate modernism, Building Brands re-tells the stories of four corporate headquarters in the context of both business and architectural histories: the PSFS Building by Howe and Lescaze, the Johnson Wax Building by Frank Lloyd Wright, Lever House by SOM, and The Röhm & Haas Building by Pietro Belluschi and George M. Ewing Co. In this illustrated talk on her new book, Grace Ong Yan describes how clients and architects together crafted buildings to reflect the company’s brand, focusing on carefully considering consumers’ perception and their emotions towards the architecture and the messages they communicated.

Grace Ong Yan is Assistant Professor in the College of Architecture and the Built Environment at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. As an architectural historian, educator, and architect, her scholarship explores alternate theories of modernism, intersections of media and environment, and interdisciplinary collaborations.

Cover book of Antiquity in Gotham: The Ancient Architecture of New York City" by Elizabeth Macalauy-Lewis. Copyright Fordham University Press

Antiquity in Gotham:
The Ancient Architecture of New York City

RSVP Tue, Jun 1, 2021 at 6:00 PM

In her new book, Prof. Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis applies an archeological lens to the study of the New York buildings. Antiquity in Gotham explores how the language of ancient architecture communicated the political ideals of the young Republic through the adaptation of Greek and Roman architecture; how Egyptian temples conveyed the city’s new technological achievements; and how the ancient Near East served many artistic masters, decorating the interiors of glitzy Gilded Age restaurants and the tops of skyscrapers. Rather than emphasizing a battle of styles, the Neo-Antique framework considers the similarities and differences—intellectually, conceptually, and chronologically—amongst the reception of these architectural traditions.

Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis is Associate Professor of Liberal Studies and Middle Eastern Studies, and the Executive Officer of the M.A Program in Liberal Studies at the Graduate Center, the City University of New York. She is the editor or author of six books, including Classical New York: Discovering Greece and Rome in Gotham and Housing the New Romans: Architectural Reception and Classical Style in the Modern World.

The Floating Pool Lady:
A Quest to Bring a Public Pool to New York City’s Waterfront

RSVP Mon, Jun 21, 2021 at 6:00 PM

Historian and waterfront planner and activist Ann L. Buttenwieser is The Floating Pool Lady. As parks protector Adrian Benepe writes in the description of Buttenwieser’s new book, “Never mind Molly Brown of RMS Titanic fame—meet the unsinkable Ann L. Buttenwieser! In  The Floating Pool Lady , Buttenwieser recounts, with the energy of a suspense novel, her visionary quest to bring to New York City the first floating swimming pool in more than seventy-five years.”

Ann L. Buttenwieser is an urban planner and urban historian. She has taught at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University and at the Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York. She is the author of  Governors Island and Manhattan Water-Bound.