The Rise Of The 'Ground Line' In Our Great City Skyline With HASSELL's Ken McBryde


The success of city skylines is becoming increasingly dependent on what’s happening at the ‘ground line’, according to international design practice HASSELL Principal Ken McBryde, who presented his insights at the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) 2015 International Conference in New York (October 26 – 30).

Mr McBryde explored the renaissance of the city skyscraper, focusing on the topic of "Designing Global Skylines".

“At HASSELL we are committed to the idea that cities and their architecture need to work on at least three levels; the skyline or “internet view”, the urban experience, and the occupants’ experience,” he said.

“The most enduring city buildings are ones that focus first on being carefully integrated within the city fabric and its public domain.

“We are required to focus on solving the technical requirements of buildings, address a brief to make an “iconic statement” and of course find a commercial edge. Solving these challenges isn’t enough. If our projects don’t address and respond to the city around them and explore the nature of truly public space, then their value is limited and it’s an opportunity for city-making wasted.

“It’s critical that tall buildings continue a sense of community vertically as well as horizontally to contribute to the shape of the city, its vibrancy and how it’s used,” he said.

Mr McBryde discussed what he calls the 6 dimensions or 'success factors' that are inherent to exceptional places:

  • Distinctive - define and enhance the city
  • Co-operative - catalyst for social and economic uplift
  • Super-concentrated - more of what people want
  • Multi-connected - connecting people physically and virtually
  • Restorative - productive people and sustainable cities
  • Adaptive - Evolves with the city

The HASSELL-designed 60 Martin Place tower, Sydney[/caption]Mr McBryde said 60 Martin Place was designed to create a building that will be a distinctive addition to the city skyline.

"HASSELL worked hard in partnership with our clients, the community and the neighbourhood and planning authorities to ensure the building would contribute to its neighbourhood and the city - creating a lively and attractive destination."Mr McBryde describes how the distinctive sway in the building’s profile and skyline was designed as a gentle response to the urban context of the old St Stephens Church to the North and the sun access plane to the south in Martin Place.

HASSELL global head of urban design David Tickle, agrees that large scale, city shaping projects not only need to deliver commercial value of a site, but also deliver broader community benefits.

“There is a growing recognition of the value of ‘precinct’ design in shaping city spaces. Developers and designers are seeing that you can deliver a whole lot more when you think at the scale of the neighbourhood or the city block,” Mr Tickle said.

“The scale is not only important to the commercial viability of a project, but clearly has ramifications for the viability of our cities – the “resurgence of the skyscraper city” brings with it a resurgence in global competition for available talent,” he said.

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