2019 Fall Forum

November 6, 2019

Benaroya Hall, Seattle, WA

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Fall Forum 2019


The Structural Engineers Foundation of Washington hosted its 9th successful Fall Forum on Nov. 6 at Benaroya Hall. “Trends in Worldwide Urban Growth: How Washington Stacks Up” was given by Antony Wood, CEO of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. About 250 people attended the lecture, including architects, engineers, contractors, university students, and even young children! The SEFW mission is to promote the profession of structural engineering to all audiences, especially the general public, and the Forum perfectly presented statistics, challenges, and thoughtful concepts so everyone learned something. Antony was engaging and often humorous, offering information about Washington state that was unique, thought-provoking, and even downright fun.



In regards to worldwide growth, Antony discussed trends, drivers, and challenges. He identified that tall buildings are getting taller, can be found in more locations around the world, are being built with more diverse functions (i.e., they are no longer just commercial office towers), and more. A few decades ago if you would have predicted the tallest building, you would have said it would be a steel office building in the United States. Now, we know that isn’t the case – it will be a composite, mixed-use building, probably in the Middle East or Asia.


Antony said more than 1 million people are urbanizing every week worldwide, and they need homes in the city. He cited a Seattle Times article that said Seattle is the #1 city for growth in this decade, at 18.7%, which is higher than any of the largest 50 U.S. cities.


One of the biggest challenges in urbanization is that the infrastructure in cities cannot support the growth that is happening. In order for cities to be successful, all of the things that need to be in place to support residents and businesses (think doctor’s offices, school, government services) need to go UP into towers as well.


Antony rattled off all of the big companies in the Seattle area – Starbucks, Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon – and said the city truly should be about 6 times its current size. Some of the more interesting parts of the lecture were where he analyzed the number of local tall buildings and projects on the books and identified unique conclusions about our growth climate. Per CTBUH research, Seattle is the 4th highest in tall building construction, even higher than Chicago! Only New York City and Miami have more tall buildings built in the last several years. What does this mean for our area? Antony believes it means Seattle is a hub of innovation.


One other interesting commentary concerned architecture. Antony is a professor of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and he said that he truly feels like 95% of all architecture in tall buildings are badly designed. Why? A successful tall building does more than just be tall or look impressive, it incorporates function and takes on a responsibility beyond just the building itself. These successful towers do things like incorporate vertical gardens, use tall timber, or creatively utilize the roof space.


The lecture was video recorded and will be available at and in just a few weeks. Anyone who missed the event is welcome to watch to learn more about worldwide urbanization, growth in Washington, and CTBUH.



About our speaker:

Antony Wood, RIBA, PhD, has been Chief Executive Officer of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat since 2006. Prior to this, he was CTBUH Vice-Chairman for Europe and Head of Research. His tenure has seen a revitalization of CTBUH and an increase in output and initiatives across all areas.


Based at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Antony is also a Research Professor in the College of Architecture and a visiting professor of tall buildings at Tongji University Shanghai. Prior to joining the Council and IIT, Antony was an Associate Professor/Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Nottingham in the UK, where he was an active member of various research teams.


Prior to becoming an academic, Antony worked as an architect in practice in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and the UK. It was during this time that he developed his passion for tall buildings.


He currently resides in Oak Park, Illinois, with his wife and two children.



About our supporters:

THANK YOU to the current sponsors for the 2019 Fall Forum:



Contech Solutions

PCS Structural Solutions



Cary Kopczynski & Company

DCI Engineers

Integrus Architecture

Magnusson Klemencic Associates

Seattle Structural




Coffman Engineers

CT Engineering


DLR Group

GLY Construction

KPFF Consulting Engineers

Lane Powell

Malsam Tsang Structural Engineering

Miles Sand and Gravel

Quantum Consulting Engineers

Shannon & Wilson

Swenson Say Faget

Verco Decking





Brown & Caldwell

BTL Engineering

CG Engineering

Cornerstone General Contractors

Coughlin Porter Lundeen


Douglas Engineering


Howard S. Wright | a Balfour Beatty company

Lund Opsahl

Mark & Linda D'Amato

Mayes Testing / Terracon

MLA Engineering

SidePlate Systems

Simpson Strong-tie

Ted & Barb Smith

Thornton Tomasetti

Wetherholt and Associates



American Council of Engineering Companies of Washington

American Institute of Architects, Seattle Chapter

American Institute of Architects, Southwest Chapter

ASCE Seattle Section

Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute

Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

Northwest Concrete & Masonry Association

Puget Sound Engineers Council

Seattle Architecture Foundation

University of Washington Department of Architecture

University of Washington Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Washington Aggregates & Concrete Association

Washington Association of Building Officials

Washington STEM



Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute

Northwest Concrete & Masonry Association

Cale Ash

Chris Bernards

Arne Carson

Mike Dunn

David Goodyear

Charlie Griffes

Dick Hemmen

Craig Keller

Joyce Lem

Claudia Maggiani

Marga Rose Hancock

Greg Schindler

John Tawresey

Tom Xia