The Tower of Piraeus wins the "Facade Award of Excellence 2024"

Tower of Piraeus

The Tower of Piraeus's facade, designed by the architecture office PILA, won the Facade Award of Excellence 2024 from the internationally recognised Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).

CTBUH is a Chicago-based global non-profit organisation dedicated to smarter cities and a more sustainable future for the world's population. It is known to the public as the arbiter of tall buildings and the organisation that awards titles such as "World's Tallest Building."

The PILA office's new facade design transformed the Tower of Piraeus into a dynamic landmark, and now its architectural design is officially internationally distinguished. Their proposal created a visually exciting building and incorporated sustainable design strategies to reduce energy consumption drastically.

Tower of Piraeus

Christina Papalexandri and Ilias Papageorgiou are the founders of the architectural office Pila. Their office has an impressive repertoire of projects in Greece and abroad, and they themselves have significant experience working in New York: Ilias Papageorgiou became a partner at the So-il office, and Christina Papalexandri, an architect at the large 2X4 office.

Their careers in New York gave them a global perspective after they toured Asia, Europe, and, of course, America, but our homeland won them back, and they were even rewarded with the risk of their return with their project in the Tower of Piraeus.

The facade began to win international awards, most recently the award for one of the "best tall building facades in the world."

"In September, we will go to London, which has an international conference with 1,500 people, to claim one more prize," said Ilias Papageorgiou.

– Tell us a few words about how you felt after receiving the award.

It's been a few months since we were nominated. The award organisers had seen the Tower of Piraeus. We found out we won the competition a month ago, and the press release came out last week. It is a very honourable distinction.

It is a building that meets international standards in terms of design and construction. We are proud that the Tower of Piraeus appears on a list of the tallest buildings worldwide and thus becomes more widely known internationally.

Tower of Piraeus

A wider audience recognises an effort and design approach from an authoritative and, let's underline, non-profit international organisation specialising in tall buildings.

It is also important for us that this is the first tall building to be built in Greece after the 70s.

Even if it is the renovation of a tall building, it opens an interesting chapter in the field of tall buildings in our country, which will continue with Ellinikon's projects.

– What is the significance of the specific awards?

Tower of Piraeus

It is an international organisation based in America with many years of history which deals exclusively with specific categories of buildings. In fact, it evaluates and classifies skyscrapers based on height.

This can be seen from the importance of the architectural offices participating in the competition, such as Kengo Kuma, Foster+Partners, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), etc.

– Who will occupy the Tower of Piraeus?

The largest Zara store in Greece and the second largest in Europe opened last week. It also has a sports store, and a cafe and a restaurant are expected to open on the third floor, a pharmacy will open on the ground floor, and the offices of Dialectica and Vgroup are ready.

Tower of Piraeus

I know that many companies are in final talks to fill the tower's vacancies. But the ones I mentioned are the ones that have been announced, and they will officially come to the Tower of Piraeus.

The Tower will be officially opened on June 4 in the presence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

– How does this project affect the general image of Piraeus?

I feel very good that we have reached the moment of the project's completion. It is a historic building that has been derelict for over fifty years.

Now, it breathes new life into Piraeus and becomes a new recognisable symbol even when you enter the port.

Tower of Piraeus

It becomes a point of reference for the wider area and neighbourhood, with spaces like the cafe on the third floor that the whole world can visit to get their coffee or go to the restaurant.

If we consider the special dynamics that Piraeus has had in recent years, the region's development has been boosted. The Tower symbolises this dynamic.

– What would you say to someone who criticises tall buildings and say that Athens will turn into "Dubai"?

The debate about tall buildings exists in Greece, and it is big. I think we shouldn't have high buildings everywhere, but some areas, like Ellinikon, can support them.

The shell had been in the Tower of Piraeus for fifty years, and it was decided to build on it rather than tear it down. We already had a 30,000-square-metre building, which took a lot of energy and resources to set up.

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This is also the trend of reusing existing materials. In some places, an intervention could be made that would relieve more spaces in the already densely populated city, so tall buildings are beneficial, as long as they are accompanied by a master plan for the wider area, as is the case in Ellinikon.

All things must be done in the context of larger-scale planning that holistically approaches the city's issues.

Thanasi Diamantopoulos is a columnist for New Money. Translated by Paul Antonopoulos.

READ MORE: The handmade knives workshop in Ioannina that is almost 100 years old.

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