June 25, 2008

An Ever-Changing View


Italian architect David Fisher believes he has designed the skyscraper of the future. And it's designed to do something no other skyscraper in the world has ever done: It moves.

At a press conference Tuesday in the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, Fisher unveiled the design of his two proposed Dynamic Towers - an 80-story tower that will be built in Dubai, and a 70-story structure that will be constructed in Moscow.

Ground has not been broken on either project yet, but Fisher said both are slated for completion by the end of 2010. The buildings will cost an estimated $700 million each to build.

A third tower has been proposed for New York City, but no real plans have emerged.

If built as proposed, Fisher's Dynamic Towers will be unlike any structures on Earth. Each floor of his Dubai and Moscow towers will rotate on a central axis. The floors will rotate at an almost imperceptible speed, but Fisher said a tenant will be able to begin the day greeting the sunrise and end it facing the sunset.

Between floors of the towers, special turbines will harness the wind.

These turbines, as well as solar panels that will cover the building, will make the tower self-powered, Fisher said.

"I was thinking, 'How can we use the wind, instead of fighting it?' " Fisher said.

In videos set to classical music and jazzy drums and bass, the motion of the Dynamic Towers was brought to life, looking like a slowly twirling double helix that shifts from a sleek spiral one minute and a jumble of blocks the next.

The buildings are designed never to look the same, to shift with time to offer tenants 360-degree views and onlookers a different experience every time they see it, Fisher said.

Both Dynamic Towers also will be entirely constructed in a factory.

The Dubai and Moscow towers are now under construction in a facility in Italy staffed with 600 to 700 workers, Fisher said.

Building the towers using prefabrication techniques will result in construction savings of up to 10 percent, and will enable both to be built in 18 months by only 90 workers, Fisher said.

During one point in the presentation, Fisher stood before a picture of the pyramids of Giza and produced a gleaming trowel from a bag. The trowel, he explained, has been a symbol of construction for thousands of years. "But it's about time to put it away, and build in a factory, like everything else," Fisher said.

"If you build in a factory, you can get exactly what you want."

The soft-spoken architect said he has fielded interest from countries around the world for his towers, from Belize to Fiji.

Fisher explained that wherever his towers are built, they will follow the same three design principles: "They will always be dynamic, they will always be built in a factory, and they will always be self-powered," he said.

There has been considerable skepticism voiced about the feasibility of Fisher's rotating towers, and he fielded dozens of questions Tuesday from reporters as to just how his buildings will work and who exactly wants them.

Fisher, a former professor of architecture and structural engineering at the University of Florence, Italy, conceded that he has never designed a skyscraper. He is somewhat of an unknown in the architectural world, having worked mostly with pre-fabricated luxury hotel builds in Milan, London, Moscow, Paris and Hong Kong.

The idea for a rotating skyscraper came to Fisher in the mid-80s while he stayed in a high-rise apartment that offered a panoramic view of the Hudson River in one direction and the East River in another.

Fisher said he returned to Florence and, for years, ruminated on a way to build a skyscraper that would offer every tenant the ability to have a different view every day.


David Fisher's rotating towers - at a glance

Italian architect David Fisher on Tuesday unveiled the design of two Dynamic Towers, each of which will feature floors that rotate around a central axis independently of each other.

Dynamic Tower in Dubai

* Estimated price: $700 million

* Scheduled completion date: 2010

* 80 stories, 1,380 feet tall

* First 20 floors will be office space, floors 21 to 35 will be luxury hotel space, floors 36 through 70 will be residential apartments, and the top 10 floors will be luxury apartments called villas.

* General rent price for residential floors is $3,000 per square meter. Apartments will range in size from 124 square meters (1,330 square feet) to the larger villas of 1,200 square meters (12,900 square feet).

* The project is financed in part by Sheikh Mejren bin Sultan, a Dubai-based businessman. The Rotating Tower Technology International Ltd., headed by Fisher's Dynamic Architecture Group, will develop the tower.

Dynamic Tower in Moscow

* Estimated price: $700 million

* Scheduled completion date: 2010

* 70 stories, 1,310 feet tall

* The lower floors will not rotate and will feature office and retail space. The upper, rotating floors will feature apartments and penthouses.

* Financed in part by the Mirax Group of Moscow, which will develop the tower.

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