Best Towers of 2012 Recognized

It seems a bit early in the year to be bestowing "best of" honors, but that hasn't stopped the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) from naming their best tall buildings of 2012. These towers are certainly worth paying attention to.

Recognizing winners for each of four regions (the Americas, Asia and Australia, Europe, and the Middle East and Africa), and an inaugural "innovation award," the Chicago-based non-profit announced this year's recipients last week.

The curvaceous Absolute Towers by MAD Architects, located outside of Toronto, were named the best tall buildings in the Americas; 1 Bligh Street in Sydney, by ingenhoven architects and Architectus, won for Asia and Australia; Palazzo Lombardia in Milan, by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, was selected for the European region; and Doha Tower/BurjQatar in Doha, by Ateliers Jean Nouvel, won for the Middle East and Africa.

The Al Bahar Towers in Abu Dhabi, designed by Aedas Architects Ltd, was named the most innovative tall building in the world for, "its dynamic façade, which opens and closes in response to the movement of the sun. This reduces solar gain by more than 50 percent, creating a more comfortable environment for occupants. The façade design also works with the local culture, evoking a wooden lattice screen traditionally found in Islamic architecture," writes Jennifer Polland.

Full Story: Architects And Engineers Say These Are The Most Amazing Tall Buildings Of The Year



Towers In a Parking Lot

Take a look at the MAD web site: the scene that they use on their home page should win a contest for the worst urbanism you have ever seen: a curvaceous tower surrounded by high-speed arterial streets and parking lots, with no one walking, because there is nowhere you would want to walk.

But the curvy tower is definitely an icon, and we all know that today's architects consider it more important to design icons that draw attention to themselves than it is to design human-friendly places. We can call it "the architecture of anti-humanism."

Charles Siegel

Towers densify the suburbs

Perhaps you are allowing your hatred of particular architectural styles cloud your understanding of what has been achieved here?

Perhaps you couldn't be bothered to check the site plan before making up nonsense about a "tower in a parking lot"?
( I have never been to the site, and can't really talk intelligently about how walkable it really is... but it is clear there is a continuous, active street frontage - not the parking lot you invented for your bogus rhetorical purposes.

And the iconic image of these towers does a great deal to humanize the city and improve the direction of future development. Views are important to the human soul, and I can't believe anybody would honestly argue against that. But perhaps more importantly, a set of tall towers that were well received by the community set a great precedent for more dense development in the future, limiting sprawl.

So there you have it - appropriate street edge favorable for walking conditions, dense development that improves the image of the area and encourages more dense development. This is clearly not the "tower in the parking lot" that your blind agenda forces you to imagine.

Irrelevant Point On Towers

I am sure you make an interesting point, but it has nothing to do with my earlier comment, which said:

"Take a look at the MAD web site: the scene that they use on their home page should win a contest for the worst urbanism you have ever seen"

If you follow the link to the Mad web site above, and you look at their home page, you will see what I mean.

PS: Wouldn't it be nice if people could disagree on the substance of the issues, without indulging in personal abuse such as:

"Perhaps you couldn't be bothered to check the site plan before making up nonsense"

"your blind agenda forces you to imagine."

Urbanresidue has done this many times in the past.

Obviously, there is no point in trying to engage in dialog with someone who substitutes insults for substance.

PPS: My rejection on avant gardism in favor of humanistic architecture is not a "blind agenda." It is solidly grounded on a theory of human nature, which I describe in my essay on Architecture and Evolutionary Psychology at

Charles Siegel

Pinacle of relevance

Your claim was patently bogus, so my post was entirely on point.

I did see their image.
It did not show a tower in a parking lot.
That was totally, 100% percent, your fabrication.

If you think you see a suburban context in the background that seems unattractive, that could be a reasonable reaction. Blaming a project for its preexisting surroundings is not reasonable.

Your inability to see the possibility that this project is improving that unsightly surrounding area speaks volumes to the blindness of your agenda.

You were the person who chose to grossly misrepresent and denigrate the quality of somebody else's professional work on a public forum. If you are not prepared for a little (fairly mild!) criticism of your deliberate dishonesty, then you are free to keep your opinions to yourself. Please don't play the victim when somebody exposes a lie. It's a waste of all of our time.

Calling this a tower in a parking lot is a lie, plain and simple.

Absolute parking.

... your hatred of particular architectural styles cloud your understanding ... making up nonsense about a "tower in a parking lot"? ... the parking lot you invented for your bogus rhetorical purposes...This is clearly not the "tower in the parking lot" that your blind agenda forces you to imagine...Your claim was patently bogus ....your fabrication... the blindness of your agenda... grossly misrepresent and denigrate ... your deliberate dishonesty ... play the victim ... ...a lie, plain and simple.

Your cute harrumphing umbrage is cute and admirable, but the cuteness is not backed by any evidence.

That is: from what I can see, it looks like towers in a parking lot. If there is a way to hand-flap away from the image and fawning pressers, do let us know.

But they are cool looking, surely. Not cool enough to falsely and comically accuse someone of lying, though.

Jus' sayin'.



Absolute nonsense - street wall and open space

Perhaps you should take another look. The evidence is staring you in the face in the very photo you provided (which, by the way, was not the image in the link that Charles commented on).

What I see is a new development comprised of the landmark towers, continuous street walls, and landscaped open space.

Then, ACROSS THE STREET, I see a large surface parking lot and an existing development that does not embrace the street.

In no way is it appropriate to blame a new development for the sins of its neighbors. If we were to accept that deeply flawed logic, it would never be possible to rehabilitate any area. We might as well give up as planners.

I'll give you a little credit for finding an image that on a quick glance seemingly supports the lie... but even the slightest thoughtful look shows that the criticism of THIS project as a "tower in the parking lot" is either intentionally misleading or willfully ignorant.

Contrasting Urban Visions

My original comment was about the MAP home page at - not about the details of the project. The image that a firm chooses to use on its homepage conveys their vision of the city, and the vision shown on is not walkable or attractive.

Contrast it with the images on, for example, Victor Dover's home page at and ask yourself where people are more likely to walk.

I want to clarify what I actually said, which was:

"Take a look at the MAD web site: the scene that they use on their home page should win a contest for the worst urbanism you have ever seen."

It should be very obvious that I was talking about the overall vision of the city that their home page conveys.

Charles Siegel

Absolutely clear - absolutely wrong

What you said initially was absolutely clear, and absolutely untrue.
There is no "tower in a parking lot" no matter how much you try to parse your words!

But even if we allowed you to back peddle and ignored the blatant lie, your argument would still fail.
There is no meaningful way to suggest that the image you link to suggests any defect with the vision of the city.

That image clearly shows a dense, urbane skyline as viewed from a distance. It is clearly approaching town from the road - and it is an amazing image in terms of giving the town a skyline that is recognizable. Rather than remaining sprawling, non-descript suburbs, the project creates a real sense of place. It enables a new urban center to emerge.

There is nothing about this photo that implies an endorsement for the foreground; this is a clear study in contrast. The project rises above its context (literally and figuratively), no matter how hard you try to misrepresent it. No honest person would believe that the image was meant to show an ideal complete city - this is the view of the new buildings within their real-world setting.

If you have a problem with the setting, then you ought to be honest enough to recognize how these buildings interact with it. You try very, very hard to imply that they embrace the existing context, but that is obviously untrue. If somehow you disagree, please clarify.

This really should go without saying, but there is no possible way for you to tell anything about the walkability of the development from the view a few miles away as you approach town on the road. That is either a deliberate (and incredibly weak) attempt at misrepresentation, or you are trying to somehow link the project with its surrounding landscape, without giving it any meaningful discussion (and if you did, your argument would surely fail...).

What the image clearly shows is an appreciation for the density fostered by transit. It demonstrates an appreciation for architecture as a social gesture meant to richen the lives of all the residents of a community, and not just the residents who live inside. It shows a widespread desire to form a new urban center instead of continuing to sprawl formlessly.

So all you have done is make gross misrepresentations while demonstrating a dislike for a particular form of architecture.

And, as in similar posts on many other topics in the past, you have substituted your personal architectural preferences for any consideration of the lived experience of the people who actually enjoy a place you somehow deem unattractive. Based on sales, people who have visited this new urbanization are eager to spend their hard-earned money to join into a transit-oriented community in an attractive building. Reportedly, the community is happy with the new addition - no small feat considering the general aversion in North American suburbs to density. Yet, somehow, you seem to think your architectural preference is more important than the experiences of their daily lives, any of the urban planning considerations about development patterns you continue to ignore in posting after posting, or even an appropriate effort to honestly describe the basics of the development.

It appears clear that you want to redefine your statements and waive your hands because you don't have any valid arguments against
what amounts to a vision of a socially-responsible architectural gesture, which supports transit-oriented growth and sets a new direction for urbanization instead of sprawl.

Absolute umbrage.

The evidence is staring you in the face...In no way is it appropriate ...If we were to accept that deeply flawed logic...We might as well give up as planners...the criticism of THIS project... is either intentionally misleading or willfully ignorant.

I really don't care that much about the project. What I quoted upthread was text containing silly over the top harrumphing umbrage, not text containing discussion of design features. I wrote in short sentences sans jargon and polysyllaby for clarity in discerning the purpose of my comment.

The form I chose for the comment was such that I was really highlighting pointless ululating and silly over the top harrumphing umbrage at a simple, minor point by a knowledgeable person who has written a book on urban design.

That's really why I posted.

The commenter doth protest too much, methinks.



So therefore?

So, actually, you don't have a point?

Let me get this straight - the initial over-the-top statements that were patently untrue and denigrated the hard professional work of others didn't bother you? You accept as "a knowledgeable person" an individual who finds it necessary to misrepresent projects when he cannot make an argument based on the facts? You only see a problem when somebody objects to the lie?

To be clear, there is nothing "silly" or "pointless" about exposing lies meant to disparage others.

And, to be even more clear, you can only complain about writing style now (after your own attempt at misrepresenting the project failed), because nothing I posted was untrue or incorrect.

Therefore for what?

So, actually, you don't have a point?

*eye roll*

Your puerile name-calling and now blatantly and ham-handedly mischaracterizing what I wrote is clearly my point.

Change the dosage on your meds. It is impairing your faculties. Maybe then you can give it a rest.

Buh-bye now.



Can we get the facts straight?

Can we just get the basic facts straight here?

Just answer the question simply:
Is this, or is this not, a "tower in a parking lot"?

And after you honestly answer that question, just answer one more:
Is it fair to all the people who worked on the project to have it mischaracterized in this way?

Finally, if you would like, perhaps you can say something about whether this project might have the potential to improve future development patterns.

I am sorry if somehow my vigorous writing style hurt your feelings, but I assure you I did not call any names or write anything that was untrue. You will find nothing to quote that was either calling names or incorrect. The ONLY insults were contained in your comment.

(In terms of your accusation of misrepresenting your statement, it is fair to conclude you do not have a point, since you have been unable to justify the obvious disconnect between your condemnation of my fact-based objection to the original comment, and your acceptance of that comment, which was unduly harsh and patently untrue.)

So can we set aside pointless bickering and settle on the facts and basic conclusion?

Thank you.



Stop hating on TOD

It is really disappointing when people on a planning forum go out of their way to misrepresent and disparage successful transit oriented development, just because they dislike the architectural style.

Mississauga has strongly pursued development around transit, and these towers are a crowning achievement. Calling them a "tower in a parking lot" is a deliberate attempt to characterize it instead as unsustainable, auto-oriented development.

Applying such terms to TOD efforts is fundamentally incorrect, and the deliberate decision to mischaracterize an example of progress, just because somebody has a narrow stylistic preference, should never be viewed favorably.

Responses make the point - treat professional work fairly

The reactions by both commenters make the point clearly.

Their dislike of a negative comment is clear. They only invested a minimal amount of work to quickly type something, but they do not seem to like the negative reaction to it.

Now consider a negative comment that trashes a lot of actual professional effort, rather than just objecting to a comment. It is unfair to people who work on projects to casually tear down their efforts.

Finally, it is important to distinguish that the comments in response to these individuals were justified based on the facts, whereas the attack on this project was simply unwarranted.

Please, try to treat folks fairly for their professional work.

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