Editor’s note: The architecture world has been abuzz over news that a Chinese construction company plans to build the world’s tallest building — and to do it in just 90 days using a proprietary prefabrication technique.
Construction on the 838-meter highrise in Changsha, called Sky City One, is expected to begin this month.
After the project was announced, we reached out to Christian Sottile, the Dean of the School of Building Arts at the Savannah College of Art and Design, who gave us his take on why the project is a terrible step for architecture and urban living.
But not everyone is sceptical about Sky City One.
Stan Klemanowicz, an architect and planner in Los Angeles with Project Development Associates, reached out to tell us why the project is actually revolutionary. He has allowed us to publish his response to Mr. Sottile’s critique.
From Stan Klemanowicz:
Mr. Sottile misses an important point in the design and construction of this project. It revolutionizes the process in a way hardly ever before seen in the building industry.
One might argue the standardization of building parts and systems in modern architecture was similar but, that belies a shallow understanding. This is very different! It is a revolutionary approach.
In Sky City One we see standardization of components and details, off-site construction of building components to the largest feasible sizes, and organised and well-synchronised fitting and assembly in the field never before seen nor attempted.
Construction can be one of the slowest industries. We still set brick one-by-one and install individual sheets of drywall in the field. Why can’t they, and almost every other building component, be fabricated and assembled to the fullest offset?
There has been prefabrication of building components for many years including fabricated housing, precast construction, and modular construction. But there has not been anything of this scale with similar time constraints attempted.
Whether this attempt is successful or not, others will try, and try again. New records for types of construction, complexity of design, and tighter time constraints will be achieved. labour is being taken off the job site and into the shop. Projects will require a different, and likely, smaller labour force to the benefit of owners and users.
Union workers, specifically and construction labour, in general, will suffer. There will be some real tooth and nail battles to come.
Reviewing what has been foisted on the Chinese urban landscape by “name” starchitects in the past several years, one can hardly criticise this truly indigenous project. When it is compete it will be a success beyond reproach regardless of whether the Sky City One concept truly works or not.
Stan Klemanowicz is an architect and planner who resides in the Los Angeles area. He is experienced in premier hospitality, residential, commercial, retail, and industrial development projects and specialises in project delivery, construction management, and technology.
His firm, Project Development Associates, was founded on the idea of “Creating Tomorrow’s Future Today,” and assists owners, construction managers, and architects in meeting the challenges of today’s cost-competitive, dynamic marketplace.
He is a graduate of the City University of New York.
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