Vital and Sustainable Tall Building Structural Design Solutions

Session: D: Minimizing Impact: Towards Net Zero Density

Hi Sun ChoiProject image

Hi Sun Choi
Senior Principal, Thornton Tomasetti, Inc.
New York City

When determining efficiency and value in tall building design, usable/gross floor area ratio, unit construction cost and lease or sales price per floor area are the primary discussion points. However, longevity in terms of sustainability and vitality of the building program should also be considered.

Minimizing carbon emission in the operational phase has been a design consideration for years. Embodied carbon per floor footprint area and per occupant should also be considered when selecting among tall building design options. Adaptive reuse is another powerful way to minimize embodied carbon emission through a building’s life cycle. Think of tall buildings as vertical cities, where “zoning changes” within each tower could occur, to extend the economic life span of the towers. For example, the total live load in a tall residential building is a small fraction of maximum base reactions, including self-weight and lateral loads. Designing for a higher live load, or using a structural system that can be upgraded in a cost-effective manner, can enable the tower to remain vital and economically viable in the future. Vitality can also hinge on the structural lateral system selected, since some impose more restrictions than others. Future flexibility should be part of the financial analysis when deciding on optimal structural systems before construction.

This presentation offers new ideal design parameters for tall building structural design excellence, leading to improved project sustainability, longevity and vitality.