Engineers speculate existence of 2050 energy tower


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Photo by Yingjie Hu |

Gregory Kiss, a founding partner of Kiss+Cathcart Architects, speaks about the design of the “2050 tower,” a hypothetical 150-story structure that supplies its own energy.


At first, it sounds like a dream: A 150-story tower that produces its own energy and treats and reuses its own water and waste. That is exactly what the “2050 Tower,” a hypothetical exercise in futurology, aims to be.

Organized and sponsored by the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University, the “2050 Tower” seminar took place Friday in the Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences Building on Cook campus.

This project is a study of a hypothetical environmentally friendly tower the designers speculate could exist in the year 2050. This is a follow-up to a similar study they did which was called the “2020 Tower.”

Gregory Kiss, one of the founding partners of Kiss + Cathcart Architects in Brooklyn, and Kristina Moores, an associate with Arup Engineers, were behind the design of the hypothetical structure.

The “2020 Tower” project began in the year 2001. At this time, Kiss + Cathcart had been commissioned by the National Building Museum to design it, but they went on to collaborate on the project with Arup.

Kiss and Moores said they had originally started with this project in August 2001. After 9/11, they decided to construct a building with same floor area as World Trade Center. This became the “2020 Tower.”

The new tower shares several features with the original. Both use radiant heating, both have elevators that use carbon-fiber ropes and both are 150 stories high. As far as changes go, in the new tower, Kiss and Moores have eliminated wind turbines and redone the plan in metric units.

Another addition in the updated tower is the added waste-to-energy proposition. The new tower would generate between 0.2 to 0.5 kilograms of organic waste, per person, per day, which would be used to power the building.

Uta Krogmann, an associate professor of in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers, hosted the presentation.

“I think it went well and was of interest to a broad audience. Since the ‘2050 Tower’ is a very comprehensive project it would have been nice if we could have had more time to discuss various aspects,” said Krogmann, an extension specialist in Solid Waste Management at Rutgers.

Kyle Ligos, a Rutgers graduate student, said he found it refreshing to see the private sector work with research institutions like Rutgers.

“It was definitely a good event. I was more interested in the design aspect of it,” he said.

Dillon Swiderski, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences third-year student, said he found the event very interesting.

“I learned a few things. I didn’t know that it was actually possible that all these things were being incorporated into the present structures and designs that are going into place right now,” he said.

Krogmann said the Department of Environmental Sciences has a seminar series every Friday throughout the entire semester.


By John D’Amico

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