CHICAGO A pair of curvaceous Canadian towers dubbed the "Marilyn Monroe," an Australian skyscraper that breathes, an Italian building that evokes Milan's Galleria, and a cylindrical tower in Qatar whose skin evokes Islamic decoration were named on Wednesday the best new tall buildings in the world.
The Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (www.ctbuh.org/), a group of architects and structural engineers that monitors tall building projects around the world, said there had been a "renaissance" in skyscraper development. A record 88 towers taller than 200 meters (656 feet) were completed in 2011 - compared to 32 such projects in 2005.
Another 96 tall buildings are projected to be completed this year, with China the leading builder.
This year's winners of the group's "Best Tall Buildings" "display remarkable creativity, as well as a respect for the environment, connection with place, and the urban surroundings," said architect Richard Cook, who chaired an awards committee that chose among 78 entries.
The soon-to-be completed Absolute Towers, a 56-story residential project in Mississauga, a fast-growing suburb of Toronto, has been dubbed the "Marilyn Monroe" after the late actress' legendary curves. "We see the entire building twisting to achieve the organic form, creating a beautiful new landmark for a developing urban area," engineer David Scott said in a statement.
In Sydney, Australia, a 28-story elliptical tower offers tenants a breath of nature amid boxy skyscrapers with its ventilated skylit atrium, a ventilated glass facade, and a green roof.
Italy's entry, the 40-story Palazzo Lombardia in Milan, echoes the city's famous Galleria with a central piazza covered by a curved glass roof and rotating blades that provide shade. "More than simply a tower, the project creates a cohesive blend of parks and commercial space, with an appropriately local flair," Antony Wood of the Council said.
The multi-layered patterns adorning the facade of the 46-story Doha Tower in Qatar evoke Islamic screens designed for shade. "It also provides a fantastic pattern of light within the building," Cook said. In addition, the cylindrical building has no central core, maximizing the interior space.
The 29-story Al Bahar Towers in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, was given an innovation award for its dynamic facade that rotates in response to the movement of the sun. It is a reinterpretation of a wooden lattice screen found in Islamic architecture.
Chicago-based architect Helmut Jahn was given a lifetime achievement award by the group for a "fantastic legacy of tall buildings ... embracing environmental themes."
(Editing by Greg McCune and Sandra Maler)