Vertical Urbanism and Placemaking

A special issue of Buildings (ISSN 2075-5309). This special issue belongs to the section "Architectural Design, Urban Science, and Real Estate".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2016) | Viewed by 15636

Special Issue Editor

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Guest Editor
Department of Urban Planning and Policy, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
Interests: urban design; sustainability; vertical density; mixed-use developments; transit-oriented development; placemaking; architectural Innovation; visualization tools; geographic information systems; agent-based modeling
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Dear Colleagues,

Because of their massive size and height, tall buildings have often contributed to problems of placelessness. In Central Business Districts (CBDs), tall buildings frequently evoke the image of a nerve-racking, workaholic business environment. In residential areas they convey the perception of living in crowded apartments that are more akin to cages than living spaces. Inhumanely high towers often shatter the human scale by dwarfing nearby public spaces and buildings, particularly those of a historic character. People at the street level are unable to visually connect with them because they cannot see the whole building. People often become disoriented and feel lost in their midst, as if they are engulfed by canyons of skyscrapers. Further, tenants of high-rises lose sight of the pedestrian and social life of the street. Conversely, pedestrians often cannot see the decorative art and personalized details, such as flowerpots in upper-story windows, which bring a touch of humanity to these types of living structures.

The significance of the problem has been emphasized in recent years as we witness the rapid proliferation of tall buildings worldwide. This phenomenon is corroborated by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), which indicates that the past decade has witnessed the completion of more skyscrapers than any previous period in history. Asian cities such as Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tokyo, Osaka, Bangkok, Seoul, Jakarta, Manila, and Singapore have been very active in the construction of tall buildings. Also, major cities in North America such as New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary have experienced renewed interest in the endeavor to build vertically. Furthermore, European cities that have historically banned tall buildings to protect their valuable built heritage—e.g., London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Moscow, and Warsaw—have recently embarked on constructing significant tall buildings. Cities in the Middle East such as Doha, Jeddah, Mecca, Riyadh, Kuwait, Dubai and Abu Dubai have been particularly active in the construction of tall buildings. Therefore, with the resurgence of the skyscraper city, it will be increasingly important to study the impact of tall buildings on placemaking in their respective cities.

As such, Buildings has decided to devote a Special Issue on “Vertical Urbanism and Placemaking” to bring together articles that focus on this topic. This Special issue of Buildings examines the nexus of tall buildings and placemaking. It intends to stimulate discussions on the possibilities of mitigating placenessness often imparted by tall buildings. Simultaneously, it challenges designers and planners to harness the placemaking potential of skyscrapers. This Special Issue explores opportunities where tall buildings can improve the character of communities and cities so that they make them more attractive and memorable. It searches for urban design and architectural frameworks that would help tall buildings to create, reinforce, and enhance a sense of place. It also explores the opportunities of providing arresting and captivating open spaces that invigorate social life. The purpose of this Special Issue is to inform and empower planners, architects, politicians, and the public about means and ways to improve a sense of place and humanize the high-rise city.

For this Special Issue of Buildings on “Vertical Urbanism and Placemaking,” we are looking for original papers that report on topics such as:

  • Vernacular tall buildings that reflect culture, built heritage, and tradition of their respective cities.
  • Green tall buildings that display indigenous vertical landscaping.
  • Towers that respect human scale, as evidenced in the design of tower shafts and podiums in particular.
  • Urban plazas that reinforce social sustainability and placemaking.
  • Public parks and large open spaces that humanize the city skyline.
  • Transport-oriented-developments that utilize skyscrapers to supply ridership and visually highlight the functional significance of mass-transit nodes.
  • Socio-economic activities around tall buildings that animate pedestrian life at the ground level.
  • Skyline studies that illustrate the role of skyscrapers in promoting placemaking at day and night.
  • Innovative towers’ tops.
  • The roles of innovative forms, structural systems, and iconicity in promoting placemaking.
  • Computerized tools that help in visualizing the impact of tall buildings on placemaking.

Original papers that address related topics on other types of building areas are also encouraged.

Papers will be published immediately upon acceptance, following a full peer-review process.

Prof. Dr. Kheir Al-Kodmany
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Buildings is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • tall buildings
  • placemaking
  • human scale
  • plazas
  • open spaces
  • parks
  • skyline (day and night)
  • new age of iconicity
  • innovative structural systems (diagrids)
  • transport systems
  • social vitality
  • visual simulation
  • photomontage

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Rethinking of Critical Regionalism in High-Rise Buildings
by Nima Zahiri, Omid Dezhdar and Manouchehr Foroutan
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 4; - 30 Dec 2016
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 14526
The character of height and density of newly high-rise cities, along with the force of globalization, have jeopardized the character of dwellings once entailing a regional flavor. The critical regionalism which serves as a resistant medium against placelessness and lack of identity in [...] Read more.
The character of height and density of newly high-rise cities, along with the force of globalization, have jeopardized the character of dwellings once entailing a regional flavor. The critical regionalism which serves as a resistant medium against placelessness and lack of identity in the International Style has focused more on mid-rise or low-rise solutions rather than providing direct high-rise resolutions. Additionally, high-rise endeavors are not compatible with critical regionalism theories. This has happened partly due to critical regionalism theories multi-facet character inherent in its dialectic structure. Thus, to remedy the inadvertency of texts in the discourse of architectural regionalism, the present study seeks rethinking of critical regionalism by focusing on the pathology of high-rise buildings in the issues pertaining to place and identity. Finally, the architectonic articulation to place-making and identity-giving is discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vertical Urbanism and Placemaking)
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