Wilmington, Delaware

Kling stylishly revised the bleak office-warehouse norm for E.J. DeSeta with a structure that adeptly serves two diverse businesses.

Munich, Germany

Murphy/Jahn redefined spec in a pair oftechnically sophisticated energy-efficient towers united by clip-on bridges.

For more information on these projects, go to Building Types Study at

On the following pages, the two European buildings we feature— their American design heritage notwithstanding—essentially could not be built here. Nor would our three American contenders, worthy though they are, be legal in much of Europe. The two architects who had worked in both continents explained the disparity.

The key difference is the European focus on energy conservation and reduction of pollutants that promote global climate change, said Lee Polisano, who led Kohn Pedersen Fox's London office in the design of Endesa, in Madrid. None of the requirements are permitted to come at the cost of occupant comfort, added Helmut Jahn, designer of the Highlight Munich Business Towers. That so many projects are awarded by competition, Jahn adds, encourages architects to innovate. The Munich scheme pleased his clients because he got the performance of costly and complex double curtain walls into a triple-glazed single layer. Projects deemed green by American standards would probably fall short of tightening code requirements in much of Europe. Custom components tend not to be prohibitively expensive in Europe but are here, which makes it much more difficult to innovate.

The three American projects focus on development values in the U.S.: speed, low cost, and layouts of predictable efficiency. Harry Cobb stretched the standard square plan of the center-core downtown office tower into a long lozenge at the Hyatt Center in Chicago, economically opening more of the building to daylight and views. Studios Architecture worked out a preconstruction arrangement for the spec building Bloomberg tenanted in New York that resulted in high ceilings to com-modiously accommodate the dense, trading-floor ambience innate to the company's culture. The lesson? "People don't all work the same way anymore," says Polisano, an idea, he adds, better understood in Europe. The diminutive E.J. DeSeta building adopts a narrow, "European" floor plate—bathing its occupants in daylight and views from all sides.

Although Polisano is concerned about the implications of an America that's falling behind on environmentally sensitive design, he does not see a European model triumphing—yet. "I see a North American model, an Asian model, and a European model. Asian buildings are fitted with the latest technology available on the operational side, if not the environmental side. The emerging Asian model may hybridize the American and the European one."

Economics will force the European model to reflect more of the speed and cost advantages of North America, he predicts. "It's a brave new world." Indeed. ■

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