High-Rise Buildings in Mediterranean Climate: “Ilia de la Llum” Case Study in Barcelona

Helena Coch and Cristina Pardal


The construction of high-rise buildings has always been where the newest technological advances were displayed for the first time.

This building typology is intimately related with the growth of big metropolis. This growth was initiated in the United States at the end of the nineteenth century and last during the twentieth century, being the leading cities first Chicago and after New York. If the huge demographical growth, the lack of space and the consequent rise of the land value generated the need, the latest technological advances made it possible (Lepik 2004; Marino 1992).

The image of the first high-rise buildings is characterised by certain eclecticism and the use of neoclassical ornaments. The Masonic Temple of 1892 in Chicago or the Singer Tower of 1908 in New York, which takes references from the Louvre in Paris, are examples of this style (Eisele and Kloft 2002). It is not until the twentieth century that European architects are compelled to travel in the United States due to the Second World War. These exiled architects introduce the International Style, pure shapes free of ornament that soon become the high-rise buildings image (Landau and Condit 1996). The curtain wall glassed facade is the system still associated with this building typology.

During the era of the first skyscrapers, the resolution of the structure and its stabilisation against horizontal loads was the main technological challenge. The braced framed tube of the John Hancock Center, built in Chicago between 1965 and 1970, reached 100 floors—344 m—with a total steel weight similar to that needed by some other buildings just to achieve 80 m less (Fig. 10.1). Fazlur Khan, its engineer, also

H. Coch (*) • C. Pardal

Department of Architectural Technology I, Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya UPC,

Barcelona, Spain

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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017 A. Sayigh (ed.), Sustainable High Rise Buildings in Urban Zones, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-17756-4_10

Amount of steel per square meter of various buildings

Fig. 10.1 Amount of steel per square meter of various buildings

designed the juxtaposed tubular profiles structure of the Sears Tower in Chicago, 120 floors high, during the same time period (Bennett 1995). However, after solving the structure, there are still a lot of things to take care of, one of those being the fa?ade.

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