Skyscraper

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Completed in 2009, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai (United Arab Emirates), is currently
the tallest skyscraper in the world, with a height of 829.8 metres (2,722 ft). The setbacks at various heights are a typical skyscraper feature. Burj Khalifa.jpg
Completed in 2009, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai (United Arab Emirates), is currently the tallest skyscraper in the world, with a height of 829.8 metres (2,722 ft). The setbacks at various heights are a typical skyscraper feature.

A skyscraper is a tall, continuously habitable building having multiple floors. Modern sources currently define skyscrapers as being at least 100 metres [1] or 150 metres [2] in height, though there is no universally accepted definition. Historically, the term first referred to buildings with between 10 or 20 stories when these types of buildings began to be constructed in the 1880s. [3] Skyscrapers may host offices, hotels, residential spaces, and retail spaces.

Contents

One common feature of skyscrapers is having a steel framework that supports curtain walls. These curtain walls either bear on the framework below or are suspended from the framework above, rather than resting on load-bearing walls of conventional construction. Some early skyscrapers have a steel frame that enables the construction of load-bearing walls taller than of those made of reinforced concrete.

Modern skyscrapers' walls are not load-bearing, and most skyscrapers are characterised by large surface areas of windows made possible by steel frames and curtain walls. However, skyscrapers can have curtain walls that mimic conventional walls with a small surface area of windows. Modern skyscrapers often have a tubular structure, and are designed to act like a hollow cylinder to resist wind, seismic, and other lateral loads. To appear more slender, allow less wind exposure and transmit more daylight to the ground, many skyscrapers have a design with setbacks, which in some cases is also structurally required.

As of January 2020, only nine cities have more than 100 skyscrapers that are 150 m (492 ft) or taller: Hong Kong (355), Shenzhen (289), New York City (284), Dubai (201), Shanghai (163), Tokyo (158), Chongqing (127), Chicago (127), and Guangzhou (118). [4]

Definition

The Home Insurance Building in Chicago, completed in 1885, was the first steel-frame skyscraper; it was demolished in 1931. Home Insurance Building.JPG
The Home Insurance Building in Chicago, completed in 1885, was the first steel-frame skyscraper; it was demolished in 1931.

The term skyscraper was first applied to buildings of steel-framed construction of at least 10 storeys in the late 19th century, a result of public amazement at the tall buildings being built in major American cities like Chicago, New York City [5] , Philadelphia, Detroit, and St. Louis. The first steel-frame skyscraper was the Home Insurance Building (originally 10 storeys with a height of 42 m or 138 ft) in Chicago, Illinois in 1885. [6] Some point to Philadelphia's 10-storey Jayne Building (1849–50) as a proto-skyscraper, [7] or to New York's seven-floor Equitable Life Building (New York City), built in 1870, for its innovative use of a kind of skeletal frame, [8] but such designation depends largely on what factors are chosen. Even the scholars making the argument find it to be purely academic. [9]

The structural definition of the word skyscraper was refined later by architectural historians, based on engineering developments of the 1880s that had enabled construction of tall multi-storey buildings. This definition was based on the steel skeleton—as opposed to constructions of load-bearing masonry, which passed their practical limit in 1891 with Chicago's Monadnock Building.

What is the chief characteristic of the tall office building? It is lofty. It must be tall. The force and power of altitude must be in it, the glory and pride of exaltation must be in it. It must be every inch a proud and soaring thing, rising in sheer exaltation that from bottom to top it is a unit without a single dissenting line.

  Louis Sullivan's The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered (1896)

Some structural engineers define a highrise as any vertical construction for which wind is a more significant load factor than earthquake or weight. Note that this criterion fits not only high-rises but some other tall structures, such as towers.

Different organizations from the United States and Europe define skyscrapers as buildings at least 150 metres in height or taller., [10] [11] [5] [12] with "supertall" skyscrapers for buildings higher than 300 m (984 ft) and "megatall" skyscrapers for those taller than 600 m (1,969 ft). [13]

The tallest structure in ancient times was the 146 m (479 ft) Great Pyramid of Giza in ancient Egypt, built in the 26th century BC. It was not surpassed in height for thousands of years, the 160 m (520 ft) Lincoln Cathedral having exceeded it in 1311–1549, before its central spire collapsed. [14] The latter in turn was not surpassed until the 555-foot (169 m) Washington Monument in 1884. However, being uninhabited, none of these structures actually comply with the modern definition of a skyscraper.

High-rise apartments flourished in classical antiquity. Ancient Roman insulae in imperial cities reached 10 and more storeys. [15] Beginning with Augustus (r. 30 BC-14 AD), several emperors attempted to establish limits of 20–25 m for multi-storey buildings, but met with only limited success. [16] [17] Lower floors were typically occupied by shops or wealthy families, the upper rented to the lower classes. [15] Surviving Oxyrhynchus Papyri indicate that seven-storey buildings existed in provincial towns such as in 3rd century AD Hermopolis in Roman Egypt. [18]

The skylines of many important medieval cities had large numbers of high-rise urban towers, built by the wealthy for defense and status. The residential Towers of 12th century Bologna numbered between 80 and 100 at a time, the tallest of which is the 97.2 m (319 ft) high Asinelli Tower. A Florentine law of 1251 decreed that all urban buildings be immediately reduced to less than 26 m. [19] Even medium-sized towns of the era are known to have proliferations of towers, such as the 72 up to 51 m height in San Gimignano. [19]

The medieval Egyptian city of Fustat housed many high-rise residential buildings, which Al-Muqaddasi in the 10th century described as resembling minarets. Nasir Khusraw in the early 11th century described some of them rising up to 14 storeys, with roof gardens on the top floor complete with ox-drawn water wheels for irrigating them. [20] Cairo in the 16th century had high-rise apartment buildings where the two lower floors were for commercial and storage purposes and the multiple storeys above them were rented out to tenants. [21] An early example of a city consisting entirely of high-rise housing is the 16th-century city of Shibam in Yemen. Shibam was made up of over 500 tower houses, [22] each one rising 5 to 11 storeys high, [23] with each floor being an apartment occupied by a single family. The city was built in this way in order to protect it from Bedouin attacks. [22] Shibam still has the tallest mudbrick buildings in the world, with many of them over 30 m (98 ft) high. [24]

An early modern example of high-rise housing was in 17th-century Edinburgh, Scotland, where a defensive city wall defined the boundaries of the city. Due to the restricted land area available for development, the houses increased in height instead. Buildings of 11 storeys were common, and there are records of buildings as high as 14 storeys. Many of the stone-built structures can still be seen today in the old town of Edinburgh. The oldest iron framed building in the world, although only partially iron framed, is The Flaxmill (also locally known as the "Maltings"), in Shrewsbury, England. Built in 1797, it is seen as the "grandfather of skyscrapers", since its fireproof combination of cast iron columns and cast iron beams developed into the modern steel frame that made modern skyscrapers possible. In 2013 funding was confirmed to convert the derelict building into offices. [25]

Oriel Chambers in Liverpool is the world's first glass curtain walled building. The stone mullions are decorative. Oriel chambers.jpg
Oriel Chambers in Liverpool is the world's first glass curtain walled building. The stone mullions are decorative.
The Wainwright Building, a 10-storey red brick office building in St. Louis, Missouri, built in 1891 Wainwright building st louis USA.jpg
The Wainwright Building, a 10-storey red brick office building in St. Louis, Missouri, built in 1891

Early skyscrapers

In 1857, Elisha Otis introduced the safety elevator, allowing convenient and safe passenger movement to upper floors, at the E.V. Haughwout Building in New York City. Otis later introduced the first commercial passenger elevators to the Equitable Life Building in 1870, considered by a portion of New Yorkers to be the first skyscraper. Another crucial development was the use of a steel frame instead of stone or brick, otherwise the walls on the lower floors on a tall building would be too thick to be practical. An early development in this area was Oriel Chambers in Liverpool, England. It was only five floors high. [26] [27] [28] Further developments led to what many individuals and organizations consider the world's first skyscraper, the ten-story Home Insurance Building in Chicago, built in 1884–1885. [29] While its original height of 42.1 m (138 ft) is not considered very impressive today, it was at that time. The building of tall buildings in the 1880s gave the skyscraper its first architectural movement the Chicago School, which developed what has been called the Commercial Style. [30]

The architect, Major William Le Baron Jenney, created a load-bearing structural frame. In this building, a steel frame supported the entire weight of the walls, instead of load-bearing walls carrying the weight of the building. This development led to the "Chicago skeleton" form of construction. In addition to the steel frame, the Home Insurance Building also utilized fireproofing, elevators, and electrical wiring, key elements in most skyscrapers today. [31]

Burnham and Root's 45 m (148 ft) Rand McNally Building in Chicago, 1889, was the first all-steel framed skyscraper, [32] while Louis Sullivan's 41 m (135 ft) Wainwright Building in St. Louis, Missouri, 1891, was the first steel-framed building with soaring vertical bands to emphasize the height of the building and is therefore considered to be the first early skyscraper.

In 1889, the Mole Antonelliana in Italy was 167 m (549 ft) tall.

Most early skyscrapers emerged in the land-strapped areas of Chicago and New York City toward the end of the 19th century. A land boom in Melbourne, Australia between 1888 and 1891 spurred the creation of a significant number of early skyscrapers, though none of these were steel reinforced and few remain today. Height limits and fire restrictions were later introduced. London builders soon found building heights limited due to a complaint from Queen Victoria, rules that continued to exist with few exceptions.

Concerns about aesthetics and fire safety had likewise hampered the development of skyscrapers across continental Europe for the first half of the twentieth century. Some notable exceptions are the 43 m (141 ft) tall 1898 Witte Huis (White House) in Rotterdam; the Royal Liver Building in Liverpool, completed in 1911 and 90 m (300 ft) high; [33] the 57 m (187 ft) tall 1924 Marx House in Düsseldorf, Germany; the 61 m (200 ft) Kungstornen (Kings' Towers) in Stockholm, Sweden, which were built 1924–25, [34] the 89 m (292 ft) Edificio Telefónica in Madrid, Spain, built in 1929; the 87.5 m (287 ft) Boerentoren in Antwerp, Belgium, built in 1932; the 66 m (217 ft) Prudential Building in Warsaw, Poland, built in 1934; and the 108 m (354 ft) Torre Piacentini in Genoa, Italy, built in 1940.

After an early competition between Chicago and New York City for the world's tallest building, New York took the lead by 1895 with the completion of the 103 m (338 ft) tall American Surety Building, leaving New York with the title of the world's tallest building for many years.

Modern skyscrapers

The Flatiron Building was completed in 1902 in New York City. Flatiron Building 3618433845 5745ebc1b9.jpg
The Flatiron Building was completed in 1902 in New York City.
Completed in 1931, the Empire State Building in New York City was the tallest building in the world for nearly 40 years. Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock.jpg
Completed in 1931, the Empire State Building in New York City was the tallest building in the world for nearly 40 years.
Opened in 1973, the World Trade Center in New York City dethroned the Empire State Building as tallest in the world from 1970 to 1973. World Trade Center, New York City - aerial view (March 2001).jpg
Opened in 1973, the World Trade Center in New York City dethroned the Empire State Building as tallest in the world from 1970 to 1973.
Completed in 1973, the Sears Tower in Chicago dethroned the World Trade Center, and was the tallest in the world from 1974 to 1998 Willis Tower From Lake.jpg
Completed in 1973, the Sears Tower in Chicago dethroned the World Trade Center, and was the tallest in the world from 1974 to 1998

Modern skyscrapers are built with steel or reinforced concrete frameworks and curtain walls of glass or polished stone. They use mechanical equipment such as water pumps and elevators. Since the 1960s, according to the CTBUH, the skyscraper has been reoriented away from a symbol for North American corporate power to instead communicate a city or nation's place in the world. [35]

Skyscraper construction entered a three-decades-long era of stagnation in 1930 due to the Great Depression and then World War II. Shortly after the war ended, the Soviet Union began construction on a series of skyscrapers in Moscow. Seven, dubbed the "Seven Sisters", were built between 1947 and 1953; and one, the Main building of Moscow State University, was the tallest building in Europe for nearly four decades (1953–1990). Other skyscrapers in the style of Socialist Classicism were erected in East Germany (Frankfurter Tor), Poland (PKiN), Ukraine (Hotel Ukrayina), Latvia (Academy of Sciences) and other Eastern Bloc countries. Western European countries also began to permit taller skyscrapers during the years immediately following World War II. Early examples include Edificio España (Spain) Torre Breda (Italy).

From the 1930s onward, skyscrapers began to appear in various cities in East and Southeast Asia as well as in Latin America. Finally, they also began to be constructed in cities of Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Oceania from the late 1950s on.

Skyscraper projects after World War II typically rejected the classical designs of the early skyscrapers, instead embracing the uniform international style; many older skyscrapers were redesigned to suit contemporary tastes or even demolished—such as New York's Singer Building, once the world's tallest skyscraper.

German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe became one of the world's most renowned architects in the second half of the 20th century. He conceived of the glass façade skyscraper [36] and, along with Norwegian Fred Severud, [37] he designed the Seagram Building in 1958, a skyscraper that is often regarded as the pinnacle of the modernist high-rise architecture. [38]

Skyscraper construction surged throughout the 1960s. The impetus behind the upswing was a series of transformative innovations [39] which made it possible for people to live and work in "cities in the sky". [40]

In the early 1960s structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan, considered the "father of tubular designs" for high-rises, [41] discovered that the dominating rigid steel frame structure was not the only system apt for tall buildings, marking a new era of skyscraper construction in terms of multiple structural systems. [42] His central innovation in skyscraper design and construction was the concept of the "tube" structural system, including the "framed tube", "trussed tube", and "bundled tube". [43] His "tube concept", using all the exterior wall perimeter structure of a building to simulate a thin-walled tube, revolutionized tall building design. [44] These systems allow greater economic efficiency, [45] and also allow skyscrapers to take on various shapes, no longer needing to be rectangular and box-shaped. [46] The first building to employ the tube structure was the Chestnut De-Witt apartment building, [39] this building is considered to be a major development in modern architecture. [39] These new designs opened an economic door for contractors, engineers, architects, and investors, providing vast amounts of real estate space on minimal plots of land. [40] Over the next fifteen years, many towers were built by Fazlur Rahman Khan and the "Second Chicago School", [47] including the hundred-storey John Hancock Center and the massive 442 m (1,450 ft) Willis Tower. [48] Other pioneers of this field include Hal Iyengar, William LeMessurier, and Minoru Yamasaki, the architect of the World Trade Center.

Many buildings designed in the 70s lacked a particular style and recalled ornamentation from earlier buildings designed before the 50s. These design plans ignored the environment and loaded structures with decorative elements and extravagant finishes. [49] This approach to design was opposed by Fazlur Khan and he considered the designs to be whimsical rather than rational. Moreover, he considered the work to be a waste of precious natural resources. [50] Khan's work promoted structures integrated with architecture and the least use of material resulting in the least carbon emission impact on the environment. [51] The next era of skyscrapers will focus on the environment including performance of structures, types of material, construction practices, absolute minimal use of materials/natural resources, embodied energy within the structures, and more importantly, a holistically integrated building systems approach. [49]

Modern building practices regarding supertall structures have led to the study of "vanity height". [52] [53] Vanity height, according to the CTBUH, is the distance between the highest floor and its architectural top (excluding antennae, flagpole or other functional extensions). Vanity height first appeared in New York City skyscrapers as early as the 1920s and 1930s but supertall buildings have relied on such uninhabitable extensions for on average 30% of their height, raising potential definitional and sustainability issues. [54] [55] [56] The current era of skyscrapers focuses on sustainability, its built and natural environments, including the performance of structures, types of materials, construction practices, absolute minimal use of materials and natural resources, energy within the structure, and a holistically integrated building systems approach. LEED is a current green building standard. [57]

Architecturally, with the movements of Postmodernism, New Urbanism and New Classical Architecture, that established since the 1980s, a more classical approach came back to global skyscraper design, that remains popular today. [58] Examples are the Wells Fargo Center, NBC Tower, Parkview Square, 30 Park Place, the Messeturm, the iconic Petronas Towers and Jin Mao Tower.

Other contemporary styles and movements in skyscraper design include organic, sustainable, neo-futurist, structuralist, high-tech, deconstructivist, blob, digital, streamline, novelty, critical regionalist, vernacular, Neo Art Deco and neo-historist, also known as revivalist.

3 September is the global commemorative day for skyscrapers, called "Skyscraper Day". [59]

New York City developers competed among themselves, with successively taller buildings claiming the title of "world's tallest" in the 1920s and early 1930s, culminating with the completion of the 318.9 m (1,046 ft) Chrysler Building in 1930 and the 443.2 m (1,454 ft) Empire State Building in 1931, the world's tallest building for forty years. The first completed 417 m (1,368 ft) tall World Trade Center tower became the world's tallest building in 1972. However, it was overtaken by the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago within two years. The 442 m (1,450 ft) tall Sears Tower stood as the world's tallest building for 24 years, from 1974 until 1998, until it was edged out by 452 m (1,483 ft) Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, which held the title for six years.

Design and construction

Modern skyscrapers in downtown Los Angeles Skyscraper Los Angeles Downtown 2013.jpg
Modern skyscrapers in downtown Los Angeles

The design and construction of skyscrapers involves creating safe, habitable spaces in very tall buildings. The buildings must support their weight, resist wind and earthquakes, and protect occupants from fire. Yet they must also be conveniently accessible, even on the upper floors, and provide utilities and a comfortable climate for the occupants. The problems posed in skyscraper design are considered among the most complex encountered given the balances required between economics, engineering, and construction management.

One common feature of skyscrapers is a steel framework from which curtain walls are suspended, rather than load-bearing walls of conventional construction. Most skyscrapers have a steel frame that enables them to be built taller than typical load-bearing walls of reinforced concrete. Skyscrapers usually have a particularly small surface area of what are conventionally thought of as walls. Because the walls are not load-bearing most skyscrapers are characterized by surface areas of windows made possible by the concept of steel frame and curtain wall. However, skyscrapers can also have curtain walls that mimic conventional walls and have a small surface area of windows.

The concept of a skyscraper is a product of the industrialized age, made possible by cheap fossil fuel derived energy and industrially refined raw materials such as steel and concrete. The construction of skyscrapers was enabled by steel frame construction that surpassed brick and mortar construction starting at the end of the 19th century and finally surpassing it in the 20th century together with reinforced concrete construction as the price of steel decreased and labour costs increased.

The steel frames become inefficient and uneconomic for supertall buildings as usable floor space is reduced for progressively larger supporting columns. [60] Since about 1960, tubular designs have been used for high rises. This reduces the usage of material (more efficient in economic terms – Willis Tower uses a third less steel than the Empire State Building) yet allows greater height. It allows fewer interior columns, and so creates more usable floor space. It further enables buildings to take on various shapes.

Elevators are characteristic to skyscrapers. In 1852 Elisha Otis introduced the safety elevator, allowing convenient and safe passenger movement to upper floors. Another crucial development was the use of a steel frame instead of stone or brick, otherwise the walls on the lower floors on a tall building would be too thick to be practical. Today major manufacturers of elevators include Otis, ThyssenKrupp, Schindler, and KONE.

Advances in construction techniques have allowed skyscrapers to narrow in width, while increasing in height. Some of these new techniques include mass dampers to reduce vibrations and swaying, and gaps to allow air to pass through, reducing wind shear. [61]

Basic design considerations

Good structural design is important in most building design, but particularly for skyscrapers since even a small chance of catastrophic failure is unacceptable given the high price. This presents a paradox to civil engineers: the only way to assure a lack of failure is to test for all modes of failure, in both the laboratory and the real world. But the only way to know of all modes of failure is to learn from previous failures. Thus, no engineer can be absolutely sure that a given structure will resist all loadings that could cause failure, but can only have large enough margins of safety such that a failure is acceptably unlikely. When buildings do fail, engineers question whether the failure was due to some lack of foresight or due to some unknowable factor.

Loading and vibration

The load a skyscraper experiences is largely from the force of the building material itself. In most building designs, the weight of the structure is much larger than the weight of the material that it will support beyond its own weight. In technical terms, the dead load, the load of the structure, is larger than the live load, the weight of things in the structure (people, furniture, vehicles, etc.). As such, the amount of structural material required within the lower levels of a skyscraper will be much larger than the material required within higher levels. This is not always visually apparent. The Empire State Building's setbacks are actually a result of the building code at the time (1916 Zoning Resolution), and were not structurally required. On the other hand, John Hancock Center's shape is uniquely the result of how it supports loads. Vertical supports can come in several types, among which the most common for skyscrapers can be categorized as steel frames, concrete cores, tube within tube design, and shear walls.

The wind loading on a skyscraper is also considerable. In fact, the lateral wind load imposed on supertall structures is generally the governing factor in the structural design. Wind pressure increases with height, so for very tall buildings, the loads associated with wind are larger than dead or live loads.

Other vertical and horizontal loading factors come from varied, unpredictable sources, such as earthquakes.

Steel frame

By 1895, steel had replaced cast iron as skyscrapers' structural material. Its malleability allowed it to be formed into a variety of shapes, and it could be riveted, ensuring strong connections. [62] The simplicity of a steel frame eliminated the inefficient part of a shear wall, the central portion, and consolidated support members in a much stronger fashion by allowing both horizontal and vertical supports throughout. Among steel's drawbacks is that as more material must be supported as height increases, the distance between supporting members must decrease, which in turn increases the amount of material that must be supported. This becomes inefficient and uneconomic for buildings above 40 storeys tall as usable floor spaces are reduced for supporting column and due to more usage of steel. [60]

Tube structural systems

The Willis Tower in Chicago showing the bundled tube frame design KM 5939 sears tower august 2007 B.jpg
The Willis Tower in Chicago showing the bundled tube frame design

A new structural system of framed tubes was developed by Fazlur Rahman Khan in 1963. The framed tube structure is defined as "a three dimensional space structure composed of three, four, or possibly more frames, braced frames, or shear walls, joined at or near their edges to form a vertical tube-like structural system capable of resisting lateral forces in any direction by cantilevering from the foundation". [63] [64] Closely spaced interconnected exterior columns form the tube. Horizontal loads (primarily wind) are supported by the structure as a whole. Framed tubes allow fewer interior columns, and so create more usable floor space, and about half the exterior surface is available for windows. Where larger openings like garage doors are required, the tube frame must be interrupted, with transfer girders used to maintain structural integrity. Tube structures cut down costs, at the same time allowing buildings to reach greater heights. Concrete tube-frame construction [43] was first used in the DeWitt-Chestnut Apartment Building, completed in Chicago in 1963, [65] and soon after in the John Hancock Center and World Trade Center.

The tubular systems are fundamental to tall building design. Most buildings over 40-storeys constructed since the 1960s now use a tube design derived from Khan's structural engineering principles, [60] [66] examples including the construction of the World Trade Center, Aon Center, Petronas Towers, Jin Mao Building, and most other supertall skyscrapers since the 1960s. [43] The strong influence of tube structure design is also evident in the construction of the current tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa. [46]

Trussed tube and X-bracing

Changes of structure with height; the tubular systems are fundamental for supertall buildings. Skyscraper structure.png
Changes of structure with height; the tubular systems are fundamental for supertall buildings.

Khan pioneered several other variations of the tube structure design.[ citation needed ] One of these was the concept of X-bracing, or the trussed tube, first employed for the John Hancock Center. This concept reduced the lateral load on the building by transferring the load into the exterior columns. This allows for a reduced need for interior columns thus creating more floor space. This concept can be seen in the John Hancock Center, designed in 1965 and completed in 1969. One of the most famous buildings of the structural expressionist style, the skyscraper's distinctive X-bracing exterior is actually a hint that the structure's skin is indeed part of its 'tubular system'. This idea is one of the architectural techniques the building used to climb to record heights (the tubular system is essentially the spine that helps the building stand upright during wind and earthquake loads). This X-bracing allows for both higher performance from tall structures and the ability to open up the inside floorplan (and usable floor space) if the architect desires.

The John Hancock Center was far more efficient than earlier steel-frame structures. Where the Empire State Building (1931), required about 206 kilograms of steel per square metre and 28 Liberty Street (1961) required 275, the John Hancock Center required only 145. [45] The trussed tube concept was applied to many later skyscrapers, including the Onterie Center, Citigroup Center and Bank of China Tower. [67]

Bundled tube

An important variation on the tube frame is the bundled tube, which uses several interconnected tube frames. The Willis Tower in Chicago used this design, employing nine tubes of varying height to achieve its distinct appearance. The bundled tube structure meant that "buildings no longer need be boxlike in appearance: they could become sculpture." [46]

The elevator conundrum

The invention of the elevator was a precondition for the invention of skyscrapers, given that most people would not (or could not) climb more than a few flights of stairs at a time. The elevators in a skyscraper are not simply a necessary utility, like running water and electricity, but are in fact closely related to the design of the whole structure: a taller building requires more elevators to service the additional floors, but the elevator shafts consume valuable floor space. If the service core, which contains the elevator shafts, becomes too big, it can reduce the profitability of the building. Architects must therefore balance the value gained by adding height against the value lost to the expanding service core. [68]

Many tall buildings use elevators in a non-standard configuration to reduce their footprint. Buildings such as the former World Trade Center Towers and Chicago's John Hancock Center use sky lobbies, where express elevators take passengers to upper floors which serve as the base for local elevators. This allows architects and engineers to place elevator shafts on top of each other, saving space. Sky lobbies and express elevators take up a significant amount of space, however, and add to the amount of time spent commuting between floors.

Other buildings, such as the Petronas Towers, use double-deck elevators, allowing more people to fit in a single elevator, and reaching two floors at every stop. It is possible to use even more than two levels on an elevator, although this has never been done. The main problem with double-deck elevators is that they cause everyone in the elevator to stop when only person on one level need to get off at a given floor.

Buildings with sky lobbies include the World Trade Center, Petronas Twin Towers, Willis Tower and Taipei 101. The 44th-floor sky lobby of the John Hancock Center also featured the first high-rise indoor swimming pool, which remains the highest in America. [69]

Economic rationale

Skyscrapers are usually situated in city centers where the price of land is high. Constructing a skyscraper becomes justified if the price of land is so high that it makes economic sense to build upward as to minimize the cost of the land per the total floor area of a building. Thus the construction of skyscrapers is dictated by economics and results in skyscrapers in a certain part of a large city unless a building code restricts the height of buildings.

Skyscrapers are rarely seen in small cities and they are characteristic of large cities, because of the critical importance of high land prices for the construction of skyscrapers. Usually only office, commercial and hotel users can afford the rents in the city center and thus most tenants of skyscrapers are of these classes.

Today, skyscrapers are an increasingly common sight where land is expensive, as in the centers of big cities, because they provide such a high ratio of rentable floor space per unit area of land.

One problem with skyscrapers is car parking. In the largest cities most people commute via public transport, but in smaller cities many parking spaces are needed. Multi-storey car parks are impractical to build very tall, so much land area is needed.

Another disadvantage of very high skyscrapers is the loss of usable floorspace, as many elevator shafts are needed to enable performant vertical travelling. This led to the introduction of express lifts and sky lobbys where transfer to slower distribution lifts can be done.

Environmental impact

30 St Mary Axe in London is an example of a modern environmentally friendly skyscraper. 30 St Mary Axe - The Gherkin from Leadenhall St - Nov 2006.jpg
30 St Mary Axe in London is an example of a modern environmentally friendly skyscraper.

The amount of steel, concrete, and glass needed to construct a single skyscraper is large, and these materials represent a great deal of embodied energy. Skyscrapers are thus energy intensive buildings, but skyscrapers have a long lifespan, for example the Empire State Building in New York City, United States completed in 1931 and is still in active use.

Skyscrapers have considerable mass, which means that they must be built on a sturdier foundation than would be required for shorter, lighter buildings. Building materials must also be lifted to the top of a skyscraper during construction, requiring more energy than would be necessary at lower heights. Furthermore, a skyscraper consumes much electricity because potable and non-potable water have to be pumped to the highest occupied floors, skyscrapers are usually designed to be mechanically ventilated, elevators are generally used instead of stairs, and natural lighting cannot be utilized in rooms far from the windows and the windowless spaces such as elevators, bathrooms and stairwells.

Skyscrapers can be artificially lit and the energy requirements can be covered by renewable energy or other electricity generation with low greenhouse gas emissions. Heating and cooling of skyscrapers can be efficient, because of centralized HVAC systems, heat radiation blocking windows and small surface area of the building. There is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for skyscrapers. For example, the Empire State Building received a gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating in September 2011 and the Empire State Building is the tallest LEED certified building in the United States, [70] proving that skyscrapers can be environmentally friendly. Also the 30 St Mary Axe in London, the United Kingdom is an environmentally friendly skyscraper.

In the lower levels of a skyscraper a larger percentage of the building cross section must be devoted to the building structure and services than is required for lower buildings:

In low-rise structures, the support rooms (chillers, transformers, boilers, pumps and air handling units) can be put in basements or roof space—areas which have low rental value. There is, however, a limit to how far this plant can be located from the area it serves. The farther away it is the larger the risers for ducts and pipes from this plant to the floors they serve and the more floor area these risers take. In practice this means that in highrise buildings this plant is located on 'plant levels' at intervals up the building.

History of the tallest skyscrapers

At the beginning of the 20th century, New York City was a center for the Beaux-Arts architectural movement, attracting the talents of such great architects as Stanford White and Carrere and Hastings. As better construction and engineering technology became available as the century progressed, New York City and Chicago became the focal point of the competition for the tallest building in the world. Each city's striking skyline has been composed of numerous and varied skyscrapers, many of which are icons of 20th-century architecture:

Momentum in setting records passed from the United States to other nations with the opening of the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1998. The record for the world's tallest building has remained in Asia since the opening of Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan, in 2004. A number of architectural records, including those of the world's tallest building and tallest free-standing structure, moved to the Middle East with the opening of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

This geographical transition is accompanied by a change in approach to skyscraper design. For much of the twentieth century large buildings took the form of simple geometrical shapes. This reflected the "international style" or modernist philosophy shaped by Bauhaus architects early in the century. The last of these, the Willis Tower and World Trade Center towers in New York, erected in the 1970s, reflect the philosophy. Tastes shifted in the decade which followed, and new skyscrapers began to exhibit postmodernist influences. This approach to design avails itself of historical elements, often adapted and re-interpreted, in creating technologically modern structures. The Petronas Twin Towers recall Asian pagoda architecture and Islamic geometric principles. Taipei 101 likewise reflects the pagoda tradition as it incorporates ancient motifs such as the ruyi symbol. The Burj Khalifa draws inspiration from traditional Islamic art. Architects in recent years have sought to create structures that would not appear equally at home if set in any part of the world, but that reflect the culture thriving in the spot where they stand.[ citation needed ]

The following list measures height of the roof. [80] [ failed verification ] The more common gauge is the "highest architectural detail"; such ranking would have included Petronas Towers, built in 1996.

BuiltBuildingCityCountryOfficial HeightFloorsPinnacleCurrent status
1870 Equitable Life Building New York City Flag of the United States.svg  United States 43 m142 ft8Destroyed by fire in 1912
1889 Auditorium Building Chicago 82 m269 ft17106 m349 ftStanding
1890 New York World Building New York City94 m309 ft20106 m349 ftDemolished in 1955
1894 Philadelphia City Hall Philadelphia 155.8 m511 ft9167 m548 ftStanding
1908 Singer Building New York City187 m612 ft47Demolished in 1968
1909 Met Life Tower 213 m700 ft50Standing
1913 Woolworth Building 241 m792 ft57Standing
1930 40 Wall Street 282 m925 ft70283 m927 ftStanding
1930 Chrysler Building 319 m1046 ft77319 m1,046 ftStanding
1931 Empire State Building 381 m1,250 ft102443 m1,454 ftStanding
1972 World Trade Center (North Tower)417 m1,368 ft110526.8 m1,730 ftDestroyed in 2001 in the September 11 attacks
1974 Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower)Chicago442 m1,450 ft110527.3 m1,729 ftStanding
1996 Petronas Towers Kuala Lumpur Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia 452 m1,482 ft88452 m1,483 ftStanding
2004 Taipei 101 Taipei Flag of the Republic of China.svg  Taiwan 509 m1,670 ft101509.2 m1,671 ftStanding
2010 Burj Khalifa Dubai Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates 828 m2,717 ft163829.8 m2,722 ftStanding

Future developments

Proposals for such structures have been put forward, including the Burj Mubarak Al Kabir in Kuwait and Azerbaijan Tower in Baku. Kilometer-plus structures present architectural challenges that may eventually place them in a new architectural category. [81] The first building under construction and planned to be over one kilometre tall is the Jeddah Tower.

Wooden skyscrapers

Several wooden skyscraper designs have been designed and built. A 14-storey housing project in Bergen, Norway known as 'Treet' or 'The Tree' became the world's tallest wooden apartment block when it was completed in late 2015. [82] The Tree's record was eclipsed by Brock Commons, an 18-storey wooden dormitory at the University of British Columbia in Canada, when it was completed in September 2016. [83]

A 40-storey residential building 'Trätoppen' has been proposed by architect Anders Berensson to be built in Stockholm, Sweden. [84] Trätoppen would be the tallest building in Stockholm, though there are no immediate plans to begin construction. [85] The tallest currently-planned wooden skyscraper is the 70-storey W350 Project in Tokyo, to be built by the Japanese wood products company Sumitomo Forestry Co. to celebrate its 350th anniversary in 2041. [86] An 80-storey wooden skyscraper, the River Beech Tower, has been proposed by a team including architects Perkins + Will and the University of Cambridge. The River Beech Tower, on the banks of the Chicago River in Chicago, Illinois, would be 348 feet shorter than the W350 Project despite having 10 more storeys. [87] [86]

Wooden skyscrapers are estimated to be around a quarter of the weight of an equivalent reinforced-concrete structure as well as reducing the building carbon footprint by 60–75 %. Buildings have been designed using cross-laminated timber (CLT) which gives a higher rigidity and strength to wooden structures. [88] CLT panels are prefabricated and can therefore speed up building time. [89]

See also

Notes

    Related Research Articles

    Central Plaza (Hong Kong)

    Central Plaza is a 78-storey, 374 m (1,227 ft) skyscraper completed in August 1992 at 18 Harbour Road, in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island in Hong Kong. It is the third tallest tower in the city after 2 International Finance Centre in Central and the ICC in West Kowloon. It was the tallest building in Asia from 1992 to 1996, until the Shun Hing Square was built in Shenzhen, a neighbouring city. Central Plaza surpassed the Bank of China Tower as the tallest building in Hong Kong until the completion of 2 IFC.

    Shanghai World Financial Center Skyscraper in Shanghai

    The Shanghai World Financial Center is a supertall skyscraper located in the Pudong district of Shanghai. It was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox and developed by the Mori Building Company, with Leslie E. Robertson Associates as its structural engineer and China State Construction Engineering Corp and Shanghai Construction (Group) General Co. as its main contractor. It is a mixed-use skyscraper, consisting of offices, hotels, conference rooms, observation decks, and ground-floor shopping malls. Park Hyatt Shanghai is the tower's hotel component, comprising 174 rooms and suites occupying the 79th to the 93rd floors, which at the time of completion was the highest hotel in the world. It is now the third-highest hotel in the world after the Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, which occupies floors 102 to 118 of the International Commerce Centre.

    Home Insurance Building Early skyscraper in Chicago

    The Home Insurance Building was a skyscraper that stood in Chicago from 1885 to 1931. Originally ten stories and 138 ft (42.1 m) tall, it was designed by William Le Baron Jenney in 1884 and completed the next year. Two floors were added in 1891, bringing it to 180 feet. It is frequently noted as the first tall building to be supported both inside and outside by a fireproof structural steel and metal frame, which included reinforced concrete. It is thus often considered the world's first skyscraper, although this is disputed.

    Burj Khalifa Skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    The Burj Khalifa, known as the Burj Dubai prior to its inauguration in 2010, is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. With a total height of 829.8 m and a roof height of 828 m (2,717 ft), the Burj Khalifa has been the tallest structure and building in the world since its topping out in 2009.

    Emirates Office Tower

    The Emirates Office Tower, is a 56-floor office building along Sheikh Zayed Road in the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Connected with the 56-floor Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel by a retail boulevard, the two towers form what is commonly referred to as the Emirates Towers complex. The tower has a total structural height of 354.6 m (1,163 ft) and roof height of 311 m (1,020 ft), making it the 55th-tallest building in the world. The Emirates Office Tower One is taller than the neighbouring Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, but has two fewer floors. Construction of the building was completed on November 3, 1999.

    Fazlur Rahman Khan Bangladeshi architect

    Fazlur Rahman Khan was a Bangladeshi-American structural engineer and architect, who initiated important structural systems for skyscrapers. Considered the "father of tubular designs" for high-rises, Khan was also a pioneer in computer-aided design (CAD). He was the designer of the Sears Tower, since renamed Willis Tower, the tallest building in the world from 1973 until 1998 and the 100-story John Hancock Center.

    The Illinois Vision skyscraper in Chicago, U.S.

    The Mile-High Illinois, Illinois Sky City, or simply The Illinois is a visionary skyscraper that is proposed to be over 1 mile (1,600 m) high, conceived and described by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in his 1957 book, A Testament. The design, intended to be built in Chicago, included 528 stories, with a gross area of 18,460,000 square feet (1,715,000 m2). Wright stated that there would be parking for 15,000 cars and 100 helicopters.

    Skyscraper design and construction

    The design and construction of skyscrapers involves creating safe, habitable spaces in very high buildings. The buildings must support their weight, resist wind and earthquakes, and protect occupants from fire. Yet they must also be conveniently accessible, even on the upper floors, and provide utilities and a comfortable climate for the occupants. The problems posed in skyscraper design are considered among the most complex encountered given the balances required between economics, engineering, and construction management.

    140 William Street

    140 William Street is a 41-storey steel, concrete and glass building located in the eastern side of the central business district of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Constructed between 1969 and 1972, BHP House was designed by the architectural practice Yuncken Freeman alongside engineers Irwinconsult, with heavy influence of contemporary skyscrapers in Chicago, Illinois. The local architects sought technical advice from Bangladeshi-American structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan, of renowned American architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), spending 10 weeks at their Chicago office in 1968. At the time, BHP House was known to be the tallest steel framed building and the first office building in Australia to use a “total energy concept” – the generation of its own electricity using BHP natural gas. The name BHP House came from the building being the national headquarters of the Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP) Company. BHP House has been included in the Victorian Heritage Register for significance to the State of Victoria for following three reasons:

    Tube (structure)

    In structural engineering, the tube is a system where, to resist lateral loads, a building is designed to act like a hollow cylinder, cantilevered perpendicular to the ground. This system was introduced by Fazlur Rahman Khan while at the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), in their Chicago office. The first example of the tube’s use is the 43-story Khan-designed DeWitt-Chestnut Apartment Building, since renamed Plaza on DeWitt, in Chicago, Illinois, finished in 1966.

    Shanghai Tower Skyscraper in Shanghai

    Shanghai Tower is a 128-story, 632-meter (2,073 ft)-tall megatall skyscraper in Lujiazui, Pudong, Shanghai. It is the world's second-tallest building by height to architectural top and it shares the record of having the world's highest observation deck within a building or structure at 562 m. It had the world's second-fastest elevators at a top speed of 20.5 meters per second until 2017, when it was surpassed by the Guangzhou CTF Finance Center, with its top speed of 21 meters per second. Designed by international design firm Gensler and owned by the Shanghai Municipal Government, it is the tallest of the world's first triple-adjacent supertall buildings in Pudong, the other two being the Jin Mao Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center. Its tiered construction, designed for high energy efficiency, provides nine separate zones divided between office, retail and leisure use.

    Jeddah Tower Skyscraper under construction in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

    Jeddah Tower, previously known as Kingdom Tower, is a stalled construction project of a skyscraper on the north side of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It is planned to be the world's first 1 km (3,281 ft) high building, and the centrepiece and first phase of a development and tourist attraction known as Jeddah Economic City.

    History of the worlds tallest buildings

    The tallest building in the world, as of 2020, is Burj Khalifa. The title of "world's tallest building" has been borne by various buildings, such as the Rouen Cathedral and the Empire State Building.

    Early skyscrapers Tall commercial buildings built between 1884 and 1945

    The early skyscrapers were a range of tall commercial buildings built between 1884 and 1945, predominantly in the American cities of New York City and Chicago. Cities in the United States were traditionally made up of low-rise buildings, but significant economic growth after the Civil War and increasingly intensive use of urban land encouraged the development of taller buildings beginning in the 1870s. Technological improvements enabled the construction of fireproofed iron-framed structures with deep foundations, equipped with new inventions such as the elevator and electric lighting. These made it both technically and commercially viable to build a new class of taller buildings, the first of which, Chicago's 138-foot (42 m) tall Home Insurance Building, opened in 1885. Their numbers grew rapidly, and by 1888 they were being labelled skyscrapers.

    Signature Tower is a proposed skyscraper in Jakarta, Indonesia. The proposed height is 638 m (2,093 ft).

    Tower Building (New York City) Former skyscraper in Manhattan, New York

    The Tower Building was a structure in the Financial District of Manhattan, New York City, located at 50-52 Broadway on a lot that extended east to New Street. It was arguably New York City's first skyscraper, and the first building with a steel skeleton structure. Architect Bradford Gilbert filed plans for its construction on April 17, 1888, it was completed on September 27, 1889 and demolished beginning in 1913.

    Gevora Hotel

    Gevora Hotel is a 1,168 ft (356 m) tall hotel along Sheikh Zayed Road in the city Dubai, UAE. That height has given the skyscraper the title of tallest hotel building according to Guinness World Records. The four-star hotel opened in February 2018 after a construction period of twelve years. It has 528 rooms spread over 75 floors and a number of facilities including restaurants and a pool on top of its parking garage building.

    Vista Tower (Chicago) Supertall skyscraper under construction in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

    Vista Tower is a 101-story, 1,198 ft (365 m) supertall skyscraper under construction in Chicago, Illinois. Construction started in August 2016 and is expected to be completed in 2020. Upon completion, Vista Tower will become the city's third-tallest building at 1,198 ft (365 m), surpassing the Aon Center, and the tallest structure in the world designed by a woman.

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