The CTBUH annual conference usually receives many hundreds of abstracts from its members around the world for consideration of presentation. It is a complex task organizing these into the final program, considering aspects such as how the presentation relates to the overall conference theme, its quality and uniqueness, how it can be positioned with others to make a meaningful stand-alone session, fairness of representation among CTBUH member companies, sponsors, etc. Although the annual conference aims to embrace all aspects of tall buildings and sustainable cities, the reality is that it is impossible to embrace all disciplines and subjects every year. For that reason, the main theme of the conference changes each year, with the overall theme relating also to the choice of host city. In 2022, the conference focuses on new challenges for tall buildings and cities, including carbon, climate change, and the demand for better social, economic, and environmental outcomes. That is not to say that stand-alone technical subjects such as wind engineering will not be embraced into the program, but the majority of presentations will focus on subjects that directly embrace critical issues in the future progression of our cities, including urban planning and infrastructure, smart technology/automation, resilience and climate change, passive environmental strategies, tall timber structural systems, modular construction, inter-/intra-building transportation, the future of the workplace, and building modeling.
Presentations go through a number of review steps. The first step involves the submission of an abstract by the intended presenter, which is then reviewed by the conference executive committee, whose primary purpose is not to evaluate the detailed technical content of the proposed presentation, but instead to weigh up the factors as described above, i.e. appropriateness to overall conference theme, its qualities/uniqueness, a balance of subjects and companies represented, the overall program, etc. The abstract is then either accepted for oral presentation at the conference or rejected. Such is the popularity of the annual conference that is not unusual to have several hundred abstracts rejected each year. The possible reasons for rejection are clearly communicated to the submitter as outlined below (not all factors will relate to all submissions):
- There was a very high volume of abstracts submitted
- The abstract was received late, after the submission deadline.
- The primary presenter is not a CTBUH member at the organizational level.
- The primary author submitted more than one abstract.
- Numerous abstracts from within the same company were received – some of which have been accepted. In the interest of fairness to all CTBUH members, the number of presentations from any one company must be limited.
- The abstract did not sufficiently address the main conference theme: Tall Excellence: Seeking the Ideal in Vertical Urbanism.
- The field/topic of this abstract was over-subscribed, with many submissions on a similar theme.
- The field/topic of this abstract was under-subscribed, with not enough submissions to constitute a meaningful session.
- The primary presenter recently spoke at another CTBUH conference.
- The primary presenter presented a similar topic at another CTBUH conference.
The abstracts accepted for oral presentation are then reviewed in detail, for technical content and accuracy, by the CTBUH International Expert Peer Review Committee. This is a committee of approximately 40 individuals, drawn from the CTBUH membership, who represent all disciplines and backgrounds. The peer review committee either accept the presentation with suggested minor or major amendments, with these comments communicated back to the author for amendment or, in some cases, the presentation content is not considered appropriate for inclusion in the conference and the author informed accordingly.