2018 Fall Forum

November 14, 2018

Benaroya Hall, Seattle, WA

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Fall Forum 2018


The SEFW 2018 Fall Forum was a tremendous success! More than 350 people were able to enjoy the reception and lecture, “Higher & Higher:  Jeddah Tower & Building Megatall."


The pre-function networking reception featured a record number of attendees, including representatives from the 40 donor organizations, individual donors (“Friends of the Foundation”), SEAW/SEFW leadership and volunteers, and many members of the building industry.


As lecture attendees took their seats, they were able to see a slideshow that recognized the event’s corporate sponsors. Thank you to the many Gold-, Silver-, and Bronze-level firms that contributed to this event and to SEFW’s mission.


To begin the Forum, Chair Tom Corcoran of Integrus Architecture showed a 2-minute video that showcased the charitable efforts that SEFW funds, such as the SEAW scholarship program, SEAW outreach committee, educational pursuits, and research endeavors. It was a good opportunity for those in attendance to learn more about SEFW and its mission.


Cary Kopczynski of Cary Kopczynski & Company introduced the two speakers for the evening, Peter Weismantle of Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture and Robert Sinn of Thornton Tomasetti.


First, Peter Weismantle presented some background on the design competition for the Jeddah Tower. The project was initially called the “Denver Tower,” and was slated to be a mile high! The one-month competition turned into 10 months, with AS+GG being shortlisted and meeting with Prince Waleed in Saudi Arabia. Jeddah is the point of entry to Mecca and Medina, and the “Kingdom Tower,” as it was known during the competition, was to be the centerpiece and port of entry.


Weismantle described that the mixed-use tower was to have 3.2 million square feet, which actually made it the smallest world’s tallest building (the Sears Tower in Chicago, by comparison, is 5 million square feet). Interestingly, at the time of design and construction, 30 of the floors in the middle of the 157-story tower will remain vacant with a flexible programming design. The project features residences, hotel rooms, offices, the observatory, and public spaces.


The design meets the standard for “World’s Tallest” in all four categories identified by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the body that determines the eligibility and identification of the world’s tallest buildings.


Robert Sinn described a bit of the structural system and the innovation that went into the tower design. There is a continuous structural system even though only the bottom 67% of the project is inhabited. The tower, up to where the spire begins at 670 meters, is a bearing wall structure. The system is actually more similar to the CN Tower in Toronto than to the current world’s tallest the Burj Khalifa in Dubai because the system is continuous and not stepped.


The project site is a Seismic Design Category B, and while there are design considerations for earthquakes, significant attention was given to wind mitigation. Miami is actually the windiest city in the world; Jeddah is similar to Shanghai and New York. Jeddah Tower is so tall that up to 600 meters the design had to accommodate an “atmospheric boundary layer,” while above 600 meters the design could adapt to a “planetary boundary layer,” which is less common for structures.


Construction has begun on the tower, which is truly in the middle of a desert. The material is mostly concrete, which is necessary for occupant comfort with the height of the building. The photo of the tower raft concrete pour day could be captioned the “War of the Worlds” shot with all the concrete pumps. The concrete industry has advanced, and the tallest buildings in the 1970s were steel but now they are concrete. As of April 2018, 40% of the concrete is in place and the tower is 250 meters high.


After the presentation, Weismantle and Sinn entertained quite a bit of Q&A time. SEFW is extremely grateful for all who attended this event, welcomed the speakers warmly, and learned a bit more about this incredible project.


About our speakers:

Peter A. Weismantle, FAIA, RIBA is the Director of Supertall Building Technology at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture in Chicago and is responsible for overseeing the development of AS+GG’s supertall projects from onset to completion. Peter is a Fellow of both the American Institute of Architects and the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, is the past-Chairman of the Chicago Committee on High Rise Buildings, Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, member of the Architectural Advisory Group of Underwriters Laboratories as well as the National Fire Prevention Association’s High Rise Building Safety Advisory Committee.



Robert Sinn, P.E., S.E, is a Principal at Thornton Tomasetti in Chicago, with more than 30 years of experience in medium- to large-scale projects, ranging from long-span structures to high-rise buildings. He was named to Structural Engineering & Design magazine’s Power List in 2011. Bob actively shares his knowledge through lectures and numerous publications detailing innovations in building materials, structural engineering and system design. His writing has been recognized by trade associations including the American Society of Civil Engineers, the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations and The Institution of Structural Engineers in the United Kingdom.



About our supporters:

THANK YOU to the firms and individuals who generously pledged support to SEFW!





Cary Kopczynski & Company

Contech Solutions

DCI Engineers

GLY Construction

Integrus Architecture

Magnusson Klemencic Associates

PCS Structural Solutions

Seattle Structural





Coffman Engineers

Coughlin Porter Lundeen

CT Engineering


KPFF Consulting Engineers

Lane Powell

Lease Crutcher Lewis

Quantum Consulting Engineers

Skellenger Bender

Smith & Huston

Su Development

Turner Construction

Wetherholt & Associates




Armour Unsderfer Engineering

BTL Engineering

CG Engineering

Charlie Griffes & Marty Gordon


Dibble Engineers

Douglas Engineering

Graphite Design Group

Lund Opsahl

Mark & Linda D'Amato

Mayes Testing Engineers


MLA Engineering

Shannon & Wilson

SidePlate Systems

Simpson Strong-tie


Wiss Janney Elstner Associates




ACE Mentor Program of Washington

AIA Seattle

Art Institute of Seattle

Northwest Concrete Masonry Association

Seattle Architecture Foundation

Structural Engineers Association of Washington

University of Washington (ASCE Student Chapter, SEAW Student Chapter, and Department of Civil
    and Environmental Engineering)

Washington Association of Building Officials

Washington STEM