Architect César Pelli has been responsible for some of the world’s most striking skyscrapers over his long career. Born in 1926, Pelli studied at the University of Tucuman, in his native Argentina, before beginning his career in the Michigan offices of Eero Saarinen. The architect then worked at the firms DMJM and Gruen Associates, before founding his own enterprise, Cesar Pelli& Associates (now Pelli Clarke Pelli). His designs are known for their scale and sensitivity to the surrounding landscape, and include urban landmarks such as Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers (at one point the tallest buildings in the world), New York’s World Financial Center, and the colorful Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. Over the next few years, his firm will complete buildings in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
Located north of the center of Milan, the Porta Nuova Garibaldi Complex is composed of three LEED Gold–certified office towers, one of which ranks as the tallest building in Italy. The complex was finished in 2013 and includes a circular public piazza framed by the towers.
Completed in 1997, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, held the title of world’s tallest buildings until 2004. The architecture takes its inspiration from Malaysian crafts and materials and Islamic design motifs. The twin 88-story towers are connected by a two-story sky bridge at the 41st and 42nd floors
Pelli worked on Los Angeles’s Pacific Design Center for more than 40 years, from the design of the first building, known as the Blue Whale, in the 1970s to the completion of the Red Building in 2012. The campus, which also includes the 1988 Green Building, is spread over 14 acres in West Hollywood.
Completed in 1991, One Canada Square is regarded as London’s first skyscraper. The building is located at Canary Wharf, which hosts seven other towers by Pelli and serves as the one of the city’s financial centers. The 50-story structure features inverted corners, which allow additional light to enter the building.
Pelli’s Torre de Cristal in Madrid, completed in 2010, is Spain’s tallest building. The angled, 50-story tower features an energy-saving double-glazed curtain wall, whose blinds respond to lighting levels, and photovoltaic cells on the roof help heat the building’s water.
The 1988 World Financial Center, now known as Brookfield Place, consists of four towers, two octagonal buildings, the Winter Garden public atrium, a plaza, and a marina. Located in New York’s Battery Park City neighborhood, the complex was recently renovated by Pelli and son Rafael, who is a partner in Pelli Clarke Pelli.
Torre Iberdrola in Bilbao, Spain, has the distinction of being the first European tower to receive LEED Platinum certification. Located near the Nervión River and beside the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the curved triangular building, finished in 2011, features reclaimed concrete, a double-wall glass façade, and systems to reduce water usage.
Pelli’s striking design for the 2004 National Museum of Art in Osaka, Japan, incorporates a sculptural stainless-steel and glass entrance that leads to three subterranean levels. The entrance pavilion, which was inspired by a bamboo grove, also supplies light to the public level and two floors of exhibition space.
In addition to the World Financial Center, Battery Park City boasts three other notable Pelli creations, all of which are LEED certified. The Solaire opened in 2003 and was the first to adhere to Battery Park City’s environmental guidelines, becoming the nation’s first green building. It was fully occupied within six months, setting new rental records. Three years later, Pelli followed up with the Verdesian, the first residential high-rise structure in the United States to win LEED Platinum certification.
Speaking on the issue, during the first meeting of the series of six lessons in architecture organized by the Politecnico di Milano in November on the occasion of its 150th, Cesar Pelli has responded in the most reasonable way as possible – at least from a logical point of view. The architect said that he thought about the future of Milan, the Milan that will be and that should be to keep up with the times. The link with tradition, always answering the question, is maintained through the social and spatial sense of the square. A typical Italian element that he wanted to preserve and reload of this responsibility.