This year, the world’s most renowned architecture prize for skyscrapers, the Emporis Skyscraper Award, goes to the Valley in Amsterdam. Created by Dutch architecture studio MVRDV, Valley is a mixed-use building complex with three towers and a unique design inspired by mountain sides and valleys. The skyscraper is located in Amsterdam’s main international business center Zuidas and includes offices, apartments, shops and cultural institutes.
The winner was selected by an international panel of experts from a worldwide pool of more than 600 eligible skyscrapers, which were completed in the previous calendar year and are at least 100 meters tall. The prestigious award, given out by Emporis, the international provider of building data, is being given out for the 22nd time this year and has become an indispensable part of the international architecture scene. The Netherlands manages to take the crown for the second time since the award was established in the year 2000.
When choosing Valley as their winner, the jury was particularly impressed by the skyscraper’s extraordinary and innovative architectural design. The building’s three peaks seamlessly switch between a sheer glass facade and protruding stone-clad windows and balconies resembling a rocky mountain surface, while the center holds a publicly accessible terraced valley, from which the building owes its name. The building’s craggy look and jutting elements also ensure that no two apartments are the same, creating a variety of completely unique housing units. The 75.000 m2 project scored further points with the jury for using a plethora of environmentally friendly technologies and the rugged edges of the building will be planted with 13.000 different plants and trees. Over the next few years, Valley will gradually become greener and reach its final appearance. “Valley looks like an oasis in a business district dominated by regular office buildings. It is not only an outstanding architectural statement but also an excellent example of sustainable and climate-friendly building construction,” notes the jury.
The second place goes to the tallest building on the list: 111 West 57th Street in New York City, designed by SHoP Architects. With a total height of 435 meters, the residential tower is currently the 3rd tallest building in New York City. It is also the thinnest skyscraper in the world with a spectacular width-to-height ratio of only 1:24. The needle-like tower was built as an addition to Steinway Hall, a historic building from 1925 known as the former home of piano maker Steinway & Sons as well as a concert hall. The jury especially pointed out its elegant and at the same time dramatic shape, which makes the skyscraper a modern masterpiece that adds a new landmark to Manhattan’s famous skyline.
Into third place the expert panel voted the NV Tower, envisioned by A&A Architects and located in Sofia, Bulgaria. The building’s design concept is closely related to mining, the primary activity of its developer Minstroy Holding. The building showcases elements reminiscent of natural crystals and mountains and as part of this theme, each floor of the building is named after its own crystal and designed in the crystal’s respective colors. The jury praised NV Tower for being a holistically harmonious project that architecturally reflects the surroundings and thus fits perfectly into the cityscape of Sofia. It is the first time in the history of the Emporis Skyscraper Award that a project from Bulgaria finds itself among the top 10.
With four buildings in the top 5 only reaching up to around the 100-meter mark, this year’s result is a clear indicator that criteria such as sustainability, innovation and a clever design play a much more important role in the future of skyscrapers than simply chasing new superlatives. “The jury focuses on many other qualities than just building higher and bigger. Over the last years we have seen a significant shift in how skyscrapers are designed, constructed as well as perceived by the public and we continue to be very excited about what the future will hold for skyscraper architecture”, says Daniel Schuldt, Senior Manager at Emporis.