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Archive for January, 2009

Columbia Center – Tallest in Seattle

Posted by Jae on January 31, 2009

Columbia Center

Columbia Center

The Columbia Center is a 1985 completed, 76 floor, 285 m skyscraper in Seattle, USA. (The tower was originally named the Columbia Center when it was first built. The name was later changed to Columbia Seafirst Center, for Seafirst Bank, and then to the Bank of America Tower, when Seafirst, which had been owned by Bank of America since 1983, was fully integrated into Bank of America. In November 2005, the building’s name was changed back to the Columbia Center. However, Bank of America still has a branch in the building.) Standing at a height of 285 m, it was the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi River when construction was finished; it is currently fourth by that metric, the second tallest building on the West Coast, and the one of the tallest building in the United States. It contains 76 stories of office space above ground and seven stories of various use below ground, making it the building with the most stories west of the Mississippi.

The base of the building is clad in Rosa Purino Carnelian granite, giving the building an elegant appearance. The building’s structure is composed of three geometric arches, causing the building to appear like three towers standing side by side. (The tower was originally designed to be about 306.5 meters tall, but federal regulations by the FAA would not allow it to be that tall so close to the nearby Sea-Tac Airport.) There is an observation deck on the 73rd floor which offers views of Seattle. The top two floors of the building (75th and 76th) are occupied by the private Columbia Tower Club, which houses a restaurant, bar, library, and meeting rooms.

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Sydney Skyline – World Renown Harbor

Posted by Jae on January 30, 2009

Sydney Skyline

Sydney Skyline

Sydney, almost a 4.5 million metropolitan area, is Australia’s greatest city. Sydney provides approximately 25 percent of the country’s total GDP. The Australian Securities Exchange and the Reserve Bank of Australia are located in Sydney, as are the headquarters of 90 banks and more than half of Australia’s top companies, and the regional headquarters for around 500 multinational corporations. Of the ten largest corporations in Australia (based on revenue), four have headquarters in Sydney (Caltex Australia, the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, and Woolworths). Sydney has the seventh largest percentage of a foreign born population in the world, ahead of cities such as the highly multicultural London and Paris but lower than the multicultural cities of Toronto and Miami.  Sydney’s iconic Opera House has five theatres capable of hosting a range of performance styles; it is the home of Opera Australia—the third busiest opera company in the world, and the Sydney Symphony. Sydney is home to some of Australia’s most prominent universities, and is the site of Australia’s first university, the University of Sydney (ranked 37th in the world in 2008), established in 1850.   Overall, Sydney was ranked as the 16th greatest city in the world!

Sydney is Australia’s showcase city, having one of the most recognizable skylines due to its world-famous harbor. The harbor is spanned by the monumental Harbor Bridge and the Opera House sits on the shoreline like a white flower. Sydney has 8 buildings over 200 m tall, the tallest being the 244 m Chiefly Tower (there is also the 309 m Sydney Tower but this structure is not considered a skyscraper.) The Sydney skyline is world-class with hundreds of skyscrapers in the central business district and many more high-rise buildings in the outlying neighborhoods.

A Night View

A Night View

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John Hancock Center – “X-Bracing”

Posted by Jae on January 29, 2009

John Hancock Tower

John Hancock Tower

The John Hancock Center in Chicago, USA, is a 1969 completed, 100 floor, 344 m (457 m to the tip of antenna) tall skyscraper designed by structural engineer Fazlur Khan. When completed in 1969, it was the tallest building in the world outside New York City. Currently, it is the fourth-tallest skyscraper in Chicago and the six-tallest in the United States. The building is home to offices and restaurants, as well as about 700 condominiums and contains the 2nd highest residences in the world. This skyscraper was named for John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, a developer and original tenant of the building. The building is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers.

The 95th floor has long been home to a restaurant, the latest tenant being “The Signature Room on the 95th Floor.” While patrons dine, they can look out at Chicago and Lake Michigan. The Hancock Observatory compete with the Sears Tower’s Skydeck across town. The Hancock Center 94th floor observation deck displays exhibits about the city of Chicago. Maps explain the view in each direction and a special meshed-in area allows the visitors to feel the winds 314 m above ground level. The 44th-floor sky lobby features America’s highest indoor swimming pool. A band of white lights at the top of the building is visible all over Chicago at night and changes colors for different holidays.

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Aon Center (Chicago) – A Lesson Learned

Posted by Jae on January 28, 2009

Aon Center (Chicago)

Aon Center (Chicago)

The Aon Center is a 1973 completed, 120 million 1973 US dollar, 83 floor, 346 m modern skyscraper in Chicago, USA. With 83 floors and a height of 346 m, it is the third tallest building in Chicago, surpassed in height by the Sears Tower and the Trump Tower.

When it was completed in 1973 it was the tallest building in Chicago and the fourth-tallest in the world. The building employs a tubular steel-framed structural system with V-shaped perimeter columns to resist earthquakes, reduce sway, minimize column bending, and maximize column-free space. This construction method was also used for the World Trade Center towers in New York City.

When completed, it was the world’s tallest marble-clad building, being sheathed entirely with 43,000 slabs of Italian Carrara marble. The marble used was thinner than previously attempted in cladding a building, this quickly proved to be a mistake. In 1974, just a year after completion, one of the marble slabs detached from the façade and penetrated the roof of the nearby Prudential Center Annex. To alleviate the problem, stainless steel straps were added to hold the marble in place. Later, from 1990 to 1992, the entire building was refaced with Mount Airy white granite at an estimated cost of over $80 million.

In recent years, the top floors of the building have been lit at night with colors to reflect a particular season or holiday. Orange is used for Thanksgiving, green or red for Christmas, and pink during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The lighting commonly matches the nighttime lighting on the antenna of the Sears Tower, John Hancock Center, and the upper floors of the Merchandise Mart.

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US Bank Tower – Tallest Skyscraper with a Helipad on the Roof

Posted by Jae on January 27, 2009

US Bank Tower (Los Angeles)

US Bank Tower (Los Angeles)

The US Bank Tower, formerly the Library Tower and First Interstate World Center, is a 1990 completed, 350 million US dollar, 73 floor, 310 m skyscraper located in Los Angeles, USA. It is the tallest North American skyscraper west of the Mississippi River, the tallest building in California, and the tallest building in the world with a helipad on the roof (this is required by the city building code). Until the construction of Taipei 101, it was also the tallest building in a major active seismic region; its structure was designed to resist an earthquake of 8.3 on the Richter scale.

The tower has a large glass “crown” at its top that is illuminated at night. The crown is lighted with red and green during the Christmas holiday season. It is lit with purple and gold when the Los Angeles Lakers are playing in the NBA Playoffs and blue and white on Opening Day for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The crown was also lit with red, white and blue during the July 4 holidays, but that practice ended in 2003.

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JPMorgan Chase Tower (Houston) – Tallest 5-Sided Skyscraper in the World

Posted by Jae on January 26, 2009

JP Morgan Chase Tower (Houston)

JP Morgan Chase Tower (Houston)

The 1982 completed, 75 floor, and 305 m tall JPMorgan Chase Tower of Houston, Texas, formerly the Texas Commerce Tower, is the tallest skyscraper in Texas, the tallest five-sided skyscraper in the world, and one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers.

In some early plans, the building reached up to 80 stories; however, the FAA expressed concern that additional height was a risk for aircraft going into and out of nearby William P. Hobby Airport. Nonetheless, at its completion, it was the eighth tallest building in the world. (Upon its completion, the building surpassed Aon Center in Los Angeles to become the tallest building in the United States west of the Mississippi River, a title it held until Los Angeles’s Library Tower, now known as the U.S. Bank Tower, was built in 1990.)

The observation deck of this building is located on the 60th floor. This observation deck acts as a transfer point for persons traveling to the upper (61-75) floors, but also as an observation deck for the public during the working hours of 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday. One can take the express elevator, providing a panoramic view of the city of Houston thanks to the use of wide glass spans and thirteen-foot ceilings.  While the tower’s name reflects the bank JPMorgan Chase, the only space designated to Chase is a single branch office on the bottom floor.

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Dubai Skyline – Fastest Growing Skyline

Posted by Jae on January 25, 2009

Dubai Skyline

Dubai Skyline

Dubai, with over 2 million residents in the metro area, is the greatest city of the United Arab Emirates. Contrary to popular belief, real estate and tourism is its big money maker (over oil).  Dubai is home to the world’s largest man-made harbor, 2nd largest man-made marina, tallest hotel, and tallest skyscraper in the world. Although Dubai has much splendor and a growing economy, I would not recommend anyone to move to this city due to its harsh economic laws (but visiting the city should be on everyone’s to-do list.)  Overall, Dubai was ranked as the 27th greatest city in the world!

Dubai, seemingly out of nowhere, emerges a city in the middle of a desert. Already home of the world’s tallest all-hotel building (Burj Al Arab), and the 2nd tallest all-residential building in the world (future tallest all-residential building, the 618 m Pentominium, is currently under construction), and currently is building the world’s tallest structure the 818 m Burj Dubai. It has 41 buildings that stand taller than 180 m. The tallest completed building in Dubai is the 68-storey Almas Tower, which rises 363 m. The skyscrapers of Dubai are, for the most part, clustered in two different locations. The land along Sheikh Zayed Road was the first to develop, followed by the Dubai Marina neighborhood. Dubai currently has 390 completed highrises, but that number will increase greatly in the near future. With 313 highrises currently under construction, and 445 approved highrises, Dubai’s skyline is rapidly growing. In addition, Dubai is expected to be the site of more buildings with 100 floors or more than any other city in the world by 2015 (taking that title from Chicago.) The largest and most famous construction project currently taking place in Dubai is the Burj Dubai, which began construction in 2004. It has surpassed the height of the 509 m Taipei 101, the current tallest building in the world, in July 2007. (However, as only completed structures are measured as “buildings”, Burj Dubai will not officially gain the title of tallest building in the world until its completion in 2009.) It became the tallest free-standing structure on land in the world in September 2007, surpassing the 553 m CN Tower. In April 2008, Burj Dubai became the tallest man-made structure in the world, surpassing the 629 m KVLY-TV mast in Blanchard, North Dakota, United States. On May 19, 2008 it surpassed the height of the now-destroyed Warsaw radio mast in Konstantynów, Gąbin, Poland, becoming the tallest man-made structure in history at 646 m. The proposed Nakheel Tower is another extremely tall development planned for construction in Dubai. It is set to rise at least 1,400 m height, thus would surpass the Burj Dubai to become the tallest structure in the world if constructed. Although there is a lot of hype around the city, experts agree it still lacks that certain mature socio-cultural infrastructure and a pattern to the skyline that gives a city that certain fingerprint. As a skyline it can’t compete with the top 5 skylines of the world (Hong Kong, New York City, Shanghai, Chicago, and Singapore), however the individual buildings in this city are by far the greatest examples of modern architectural accomplishments. Dubai is making a great effort to join the Big 4 club to create the Big 5! All 28 structures in this city over 200 m tall were built in 1999 or later – that’s how new this city is!

Burj Dubai Under Construction

Burj Dubai Under Construction

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Bank of America Center (Houston) – Building within a Building

Posted by Jae on January 24, 2009

Bank of America Center (Houston)

Bank of America Center (Houston)

The Bank of America Center is a 1984 completed, 56 floor, 238 m skyscraper (formerly the RepublicBank Center, NCNB Center, and NationsBank Center) in Houston, Texas.

The northeast corner of the structure houses a building within a building. On the site is the main Western Union building and when relocation of the telegraph cables proved infeasible,  the new structure was built over the site and the existing structure was incorporated into the new building intact.

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Bank of America Plaza (Dallas) – “Jolly Green Giant”

Posted by Jae on January 23, 2009

Bank of America Plaza (Dallas)

Bank of America Plaza (Dallas)

The Bank of America Plaza (Dallas) is a 1985 completed, 72 floor, 281 m skyscraper in Dallas, USA. Standing at a structural height of 281 m, it is the tallest skyscraper in the city of Dallas, the third tallest in Texas and one of the tallest buildings in the USA.

It is known informally as “The Green Building” or “The Green Tower” or “Jolly Green Giant” due to the green argon lighting which outlines the building at night. The skyscraper was one of the first buildings in the United States to receive the Energy Star award for electrical efficiency. It was the only tower built out of an original four-tower plan, one of which was a twin to the original tower that would have been illuminated with purple neon. (Gah, why did they scrap that plan…)

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Bank of America Corporate Center (Charlotte) – Headquarters for Bank of America

Posted by Jae on January 22, 2009

Bank of America Corporate Center (Charlotte)

Bank of America Corporate Center (Charlotte)

The Bank of America Corporate Center is a 1992 completed, 60 floor, 265 m skyscraper in Charlotte, USA. When completed in 1992, it became and still is the tallest building in North Carolina as well as the tallest building between Philadelphia and Atlanta. It is the most widely known building and icon for the Charlotte skyline.

Today, the Bank of America Corporate Center serves as the world headquarters for Bank of America, the largest bank in the United States (questionable now due to USA economy. The building was originally the headquarters of NationsBank, which bought Bank of America and disposed of BankAmerica’s headquarters at the 555 California Street, then the Bank of America Center, in San Francisco.)

The Bank of America Corporate Center’s crown shaped spire is the focal point of the building and it makes it stand out architecturally. Its spire does not reflect from the outside like the Chrysler Building or any others; it shines from within and instead of stainless steel there is glass illuminated by floodlights, making it stand out from the many world skyscrapers. Recently, Bank of America began shining the top of the crown shaped spire from white to blue in honor of the Carolina Panthers who were NFC champions in the 2003-2004 NFL Season. The Center’s lobby boasts a work of art by artist Ben Long, one of the largest secular frescoes in the world. The work took more than a year to complete and was painted on site using the traditional technique of fresco painting. Connected to the tower is the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, which contains three performance halls and overlooks the tower from various skylights.

Charlotte Night Time Skyline

Charlotte Night Time Skyline

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