Don Davies
Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Seattle

When CTBUH was founded, rapid growth and innovation abounded in the urban environment, transforming the tall building with new materials and emerging mathematical formulas. CTBUH was created to meet a need for gathering the foremost experts on the topics of how and where the built environment should be created, providing a forum for debate, the exchange of opinions, and collaboration. This leveraging of resources yielded the next generation of building strategies.

By necessity, the towers of 50 years ago utilized simple and strong constructions, built upon bold, but easily comprehensible, structural techniques that were developed collaboratively by the architect and the structural engineer in order to create optimal forms that were calculated simply with a slide rule. But while the early pioneers of the urban built environment used many of the same materials and systemic approaches used to create today’s modern city, the ability to conceive, rationalize and optimize a design is free from many of their prior constraints due to new techniques, technologies and materials. The modern design process has evolved from a question of whether something is possible, to whether something should be done.

By appreciating the legacy of the people who developed designs of the past that allowed the proliferation of innovation 50 years ago, an appreciation for how the fields of architecture and engineering have evolved will guide the prudent investment of resources and creative talent for the next 50 years.