Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat: Cities in the Third Millennium

By Council On Tall Buildings And Urban Habitat | Go to book overview

BUILDING SYSTEMS AND CONCEPTS


Integrated Engineering

Duncan Michael

I believe in Integrated Engineering. I want to develop it and promote it. My talk will be as rational and balanced as I am able but you should be aware that I am more than a commentator.

In my youth, systems looked to me like the best way forward and I discounted the personal differences, especially the interpersonal effects. Now I observe people as hugely and compulsively social in just about everything they do, integrating themselves into their zone of society. Being stubborn I have not so much rejected systems, as attached them to all of life. Then integrated engineering is for me, a good, and a part of the expression of human society.

The Urban Habitat and one particular species in that habitat, the Tall Building, are a massive case where integrated engineering and society are well and truly locked into each other, for better for worse.

Let us look at the engineering that is invoked for a Tall Building, in its design, its construction and its operation. There is even at a glance a vast amount of engineering and within it a huge diversity of functions. Just about everything that goes towards a Tall Building is engineered whilst the technologies that are used to affirm the answers are very specialised and getting more multiple all the time.

At this point one has a strategic choice; does one set out to integrate, disintegrate or simply ignore the issue and let events produce their own results. There is a case to be made for all three strategies. The integration route, the law and order approach, is my instinctive style and so it is difficult to articulate since it is so self-evident, to me. Clearly the integration route has to be in the design from the start if it is to deliver the benefits of its potential. These benefits include balance between the parts, prevention of imaginable problems and simplicity for operation. The benefits are often described emotionally as integrity, harmony and intellectual rigour.

Many people, indeed many in the audience, will argue strongly for a more relaxed approach. They will point to cases where the integration has taken over and become the aim making the engineering, indeed the project, badly compromised because of the diverted focus. They will say that today's specialists are so expert that it is counterproductive to make presumptions to impose on the

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