Sustainably Designing the New Tallest Building in the US

CEE Chair & CDM Smith Professor Jerome F. Hajjar explains why the construction of a new building in Oklahoma City is a milestone for sustainability and resilience in civil and environmental engineering.

This article originally appeared on Northeastern Global News. It was published by Cesareo Contreras.

The tallest building in the US is planned for the middle of Tornado Alley. Will the high-rise withstand the region’s extreme weather?

A 1,907-foot tall building could soon be erected as the tallest skyscraper in the United States. Can you guess where it may be built?

New York City or Chicago would probably be on the list. Perhaps San Francisco or Boston. Maybe even Miami.

How about Oklahoma City?

Last week, developers behind the luxury Boardwalk at Bricktown development being built in the city announced plans to increase the height of the project’s “supertall tower” from 1,750 feet to 1,907 feet. That would make it the tallest structure in the country and the sixth-tallest in the world.

Northeastern CDM Smith professor and chair Jerome Hajjar. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Oklahoma City isn’t exactly known for its impressive skyline. The tallest building currently in the city is the Devon Energy Center, standing at 844 feet. The next tallest after that is BancFirst Tower at 500 feet. Oklahoma City has two buildings at or above 500 feet, New York City has more than 300.

Oklahoma is also one of several states located in the middle of Tornado Alley, an area in the United States known to be more susceptible to tornadoes. Other states in the alley include Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Indiana, Missouri, Iowa and Ohio. Oklahoma had 74 tornadoes alone last year, according to the National Weather Service.

Jerome F. Hajjar, Northeastern professor civil and environmental engineering, says projects like these not only highlight the work of developers but also the broader region and the future of the area. And paramount is building with sustainability and safety in mind, he says.

“Signature structures like these say a lot about the region,” he says. “They say a lot about the potential for the future. I’ve been working to help shift the profession so that sustainability and resilience are our premier design objectives. I think any building, especially a signature one like this, should think about these things.”

One World Trade Center in New York City currently holds the title for the tallest building in the country, coming in at 1,776 feet. Worldwide, it’s the seventh-tallest.

Once completed, the $736 million development will be home to two Hyatt hotels, 1,776 residential units, and over 110,000 square feet of commercial space. courtesy AO

The Oklahoma City high-rise, officially named the Legends Tower, is just one component of a larger 5 million-square-foot development — standing in front of the high-rise structure will be three smaller 345-foot buildings.

Once completed, the $736 million development will be home to two Hyatt hotels, 1,776 residential units, and over 110,000 square feet of commercial space.

Matteson Capital, the real estate development company behind the project, says it will request a variance from the city to approve the increased height of the building. However, city officials have said the change will actually require for the property to be rezoned.

Northeastern Global News caught up with Hajjar to get his thoughts on the development and the importance of sustainable development.

Read full story at Northeastern Global News

Related Faculty: Jerome F. Hajjar

Related Departments:Civil & Environmental Engineering