Is There a Limit to How Tall a Building Can Be?

Is There a Limit to How Tall a Building Can Be?

While the competition for the world's tallest building continues, many have stopped to wonder if there is a limit to how tall a building can be built. Well, structurally there is no limit,however, the higher the building becomes the more social, economic and political issues rise. 

image © Ali Zifan 

image © Ali Zifan 

By 2020 there will be 20 new tall buildings and 18 of them will be located in Asia. This is something that wasn't predicted before as The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) shared "If you predicted the world's tallest building 30 years ago, 40 years ago, you would have said three things are certain: it'll be in North America, it'll be an office building and it'll be built out of steel. Now the exact opposite is true. It'll be probably residential or mixed-use, it'll be in Asia and it'll be concrete or composite"

image © Ammar shaker

image © Ammar shaker

While the buildings in Asia certainly are getting taller, the Jeddah Tower which is a 1,000 meter skyscraper is currently slated to be the tallest. At least, for now. The reign of the Jeddah Tower being the tallest may not be long lasting as architect Gordon Gill (who has worked on the tower), believes that building heights will continue to grow in incremental steps. 

image © Dubai resident 06

Currently some of the features that make building higher achievable is staggering buildings with rotating designs and rough edges so that the wind becomes confused and stability is improved. As well as combining concrete cores with steel frames and using large damper devices which assist with gravity and lateral loads. 

image © PIRO4D

image © PIRO4D

While these features will continously be improved upon, Richard Tomasetti, a structural engineer and founding principle of the New York City-based Thornton Tomasetti consulting firm, believes "more research on materials with higher strength and stiffness and research on damping and aerodynamic shaping that mitigates the detrimental dynamic effects of wind"

image © Loozrboy

image © Loozrboy

Despite the advancements that are allowing for tall buildings to be built, the question still remains as to why there is still a focus on building tall buildings. Well, simply put it is the growing population causing cities to grow vertically to accommodate for the large influx of people. 

image © bobarc

image © bobarc

As long as the population increases, we can be assured that buildings will continue to get taller. They will, however, also get more sustainable. As Gordon explains, “We’ve learned a lot over the last 10 years in respect to carbon footprint and energy… we know that we can go close to zero carbon and really, that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “That combined with social awareness of density, I think it’s a great combination to pursue simultaneously.” So while building heights will continue to be a trend, we can also look forward to more environmentally conscious buildings on the horizon.


Do you think buildings should continue to increase in height? Share your thoughts below.

Source: Chicago Architecture

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