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29 April 2015

HOK’s Bill Hellmuth Discusses Skyscraper Design and Urbanization with Port Magazine

Following a record-breaking year for skyscraper construction, Port Magazine explores the projects and architects changing the shape of skylines around the world.

Hellmuth Bill Events“One of the key issues associated with rapid urbanization is the colonisation of green belt areas, which can be mitigated by building upwards rather than outwards. ‘I’m a big believer in appropriate density,’ says the president of global architecture firm HOK, Bill Hellmuth, who is currently overseeing the design of skyscrapers across several continents. ‘Having tall buildings closer together and using less of the open land is a much more intelligent way to building than the urban sprawl you see in many American cities.’”

“‘The very tall buildings define our cities,’ states Hellmuth, whose firm has completed numerous eye-catching skyscrapers, including the curvaceous Flame Towers in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku. ‘If you look at the skyline of any given city you could pick out the three or four tallest buidlings and they become a key part of what that city is all about,’ he adds. ‘Clients today are looking for a building with an iconic and memorable image, that’s much more than just square meters of office space arranged vertically into the sky.’”

BAKU 640
The curvaceous shapes of the Baku Flame Towers were inspired by the Azerbaijan’s history of fire worship and created using parametric computer modeling software.

“‘Today, much of a building’s expression comes from sustainability and what’s it’s doing to meet sustainable challenges,’ says Hellmuth, ‘whereas 30 years ago, when there was less technology available, that expression was driven by the structure.’”

CMA Tower
The glazed facade of the PIF Tower is covered in an external layer of fins, gentries and perforated panels to provide shade from the harsh desert sun.

In addition to the Baku Flame Towers, the article highlights design attributes of three more HOK skyscraper projects: PIF Tower (formerly CMA Tower) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (above); Greenland Dalian East Harbor Tower in Dalian, China; and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company Headquarters in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

The gently curving, triangular form of Greenland Dalian Tower reflects the boldness and symmetry of a lighthouse, creating a beacon for Dalian to the world.
Organically shaped openings at the top of the tapering, triangular 108-story Greenland Dalian East Harbor Tower help to reduce wind loads.

Port Magazine