The sky’s the limit
We explore how our engineers have scaled new heights of design to realise iconic facades for the world’s tallest buildings
When it comes to engineering skyscraper facades, you’ve got to have a head for heights and a knack for creative thinking. Our engineers are renowned for their ability to develop innovative solutions to complex technical challenges, and realise buildings that enhance the urban fabric while delivering an unrivalled occupant experience. Over 40 years, we’ve designed too many iconic facades to cover in one roundup. So instead, we’ve picked 5 that best demonstrate our ability to achieve the seemingly impossible.
NATIONAL BANK OF KUWAIT
Kuwait City, Kuwait
The heat is on
In a climate where temperatures regularly reach 45˚C, our engineers realised a 330m tall, fully glazed tower that achieved LEED Gold certification. Using parametric modelling tools, we developed an innovative design that features a superstructure of giant shading fins that cover the glass facade, protecting the building from the midday Kuwait sun while also providing vital structural support.
YOUTH OLYMPIC CENTRE
At 300m and 250m in height respectively, the two towers of the Youth Olympic Centre etch a new signature in the Nanjing skyline. To achieve the contemporary, undulating curves envisaged by acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid, our facade engineers developed a modularised cast concrete skin that sits directly on top of the smooth steel structure of each building to achieve a seamless finish.
KING ABDULAZIZ CENTER FOR WORLD CULTURE
Dharan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
We wrapped the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in a glossy, reflective skin that provides a perfect counterpoint to the surrounding arid landscape. Our engineers designed a unique tube veil comprised of 5m, pre-curved titanium tubes that envelope the building, and are in turn attached to an aluminium primary skin that ensures the centre is weather tight and well insulated.
111 WEST 57th STREET
New York, US
This 410m tower will soar 30m above the Empire State Building to crown the iconic Manhattan skyline. Our facade engineers stretched technical and material boundaries to realise north and south orientations that employ a fully glazed curtain wall system, and east and west orientations that reference traditional approaches with custom terracotta rainscreen panels. The resulting design creates a dramatic play on shadow and light from a distance, and a wonderful richness of texture up close.
City of dreams, Macau
Inside out engineering
Standing 40 storeys high, this monolithic building is encased in a dramatic steel and glass lattice shell that combines both facade and structural design. We designed a complex steel mesh that lends dynamism to the exterior of the tower while also producing a pleasing interior aesthetic by reducing the need for internal structural support. This intricate structure is also visible from inside the building, lending a delicate beauty to the vast, 40m high feature atrium and flooding it with natural light.