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Old Posted Aug 18, 2012, 7:30 PM
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Is There a Limit to How Tall Buildings Can Get?

Is There a Limit to How Tall Buildings Can Get?


Aug 16, 2012

By Nate Berg



Read More: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/des...-can-get/2963/

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.....

Will this race ever stop? Not in the foreseeable future, at least. But there has to be some sort of end point, some highest possible height that a building can reach. There will eventually be a world's tallest building that is unbeatably the tallest, because there has to be an upper limit. Right?

- Ask a building professional or skyscraper expert and they'll tell you there are many limitations that stop towers from rising ever-higher. Materials, physical human comfort, elevator technology and, most importantly, money all play a role in determining how tall a building can or can't go.

- The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a group interested in and focused on the phenomenon of skyscrapers, recently asked a group of leading skyscraper architects and designers about some of the limitations of tall buildings. They wondered, "What do you think is the single biggest limiting factor that would prevent humanity creating a mile-high tower or higher?"

- "The predominant problem is in the elevator and transportation system," says Adrian Smith, the architect behind the current tallest building in the world and the one that will soon outrank it, the kilometer-tall Kingdom Tower in Jeddah. But in terms of structural limitations, the ultimate expert is likely William Baker. He's the top structural engineer at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and he worked with Smith on the Burj Khalifa, designing the system that allowed it to rise so high. That system, known as the buttressed core, is a kind of three-winged spear that allows stability, viably usable space (as in not buried deeply and darkly inside a massively wide building) and limited loss of space for structural elements.

- Baker says the buttressed core design could be used to build structures even taller than the Burj Khalifa. "We could go twice that or more," he says. And though he calls skyscraper design "a fairly serious undertaking," he also thinks that it's totally feasible to build much taller than even the Kingdom Tower. "We could easily do a kilometer. We could easily do a mile," he says. "We could do at least a mile and probably quite a bit more." The buttressed core would probably have to be modified to go much higher than a mile. But Baker says that other systems could be designed. In fact, he's working on some of them now.

- One idea for a new system would be buildings with hollowed bases. Think of the Eiffel Tower, says Tim Johnson. He's chairman at the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat and a partner at the architecture firm NBBJ, and he says any really, really tall building would have to be like a supersized version of the Parisian icon, otherwise the lower floors required to support the gradually narrowing structure would be way too big to even fill up.

- For a Middle East-based client he's not allowed to identify, Johnson worked on a project back in the late 2000s designing a building that would have been a mile-and-a-half tall, with 500 stories. Somewhat of a theoretical practice, the design team identified between 8 and 10 inventions that would have had to take place to build a building that tall. Not innovations, Johnson says, but inventions, as in completely new technologies and materials. "One of the client's requirements was to push human ingenuity," he says. Consider them pushed.

- "We proved that it is physically and even programmatically possible to build a building a mile-and-a-half tall. If somebody would have said 'Do it two miles,' we probably could have done that, too," Johnson says. "A lot of it comes down to money. Who’s going to have that kind of capital?" As far as the structure is concerned, others think it's possible, too. My colleague John Metcalfe recently pointed out a 1990s-era concept for a two-and-a-half-mile volcano-looking supertower in Tokyo called the X-Seed 4000 that has a similar Eiffel Towerishness to it.

- Theoretically, then, a building could be built at least as tall as 8,849 meters, one meter taller than Mount Everest. The base of that mountain, according to these theoretical calculations, is about 4,100 square kilometers – a huge footprint for a building, even one with a hollow core. But given structural systems like the buttressed core, the base probably wouldn't need to be nearly as large as that of a mountain. And this theoretical tallest building could probably go even taller than 8,849 meters, Baker says, because buildings are far lighter than solid mountains. The Burj Khalifa, he estimates, is about 15 percent structure and 85 percent air. Based on some quick math, if a building is only 15 percent as heavy as a solid object, it could be 6.6667 times taller and weigh the same as that solid object.

- A building could, hypothetically, climb to nearly 59,000 meters without outweighing Mount Everest or crushing the very earth below. Right? So we still don't really know what the tallest building ever would be. In the meantime, Everest-plus-one is essentially the highest. But like the ever-moving crown for the tallest building in the world, even this estimate could rise with a little investigation. Any grad students out there got a semester to spare?

.....



http://www.wired.com/culture/design/...12/mf_baker_sb









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Old Posted Aug 18, 2012, 9:15 PM
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Well, one's thing for sure. The future towers that will acquire the title of "World's Tallest Building/ Structure" aren't going to be built easily in the center of a dense center within a city anymore. After the title left the US, towers like the Burj, Tapei, and the Petronas have been built in wide open spaces within their respective cites where they seem to dominate. Shanghai at this moment is the only city building a megatall near two other massive supertalls to show relativity of height. The Kingdom Tower, like the Burj, will be constructed in some plot of land in Jeddah that has no supertalls near it. After that, the tallest man made structures may have to rapidly stand on their own. No city on this planet needs that much space all at one time.
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Old Posted Aug 23, 2012, 1:49 AM
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Also if in theory if a Sears Tower were built 50% bigger including every single piece that went into it being 50% bigger also, shouldn't the useable space be the same but on a 50% bigger scale?
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Old Posted Aug 23, 2012, 7:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M II A II R II K View Post
Also if in theory if a Sears Tower were built 50% bigger including every single piece that went into it being 50% bigger also, shouldn't the useable space be the same but on a 50% bigger scale?
Ah, but area isn't linear. A 50% larger Sears Tower would have 2.25 times the usable floor area, not 1.5 times.
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Old Posted Aug 23, 2012, 9:55 PM
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If we could improve our carbon nanotube technologies and advance our current technologies it is very possible that such extremely tall buildings can be built.
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Old Posted Aug 24, 2012, 1:29 PM
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i still stand my ground at 2000 feet, i dont like buildings taller, 1, their not needed and its to show off, and 2, they look ridiculous
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Old Posted Aug 27, 2012, 2:16 PM
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For the next two decades I'm sticking to the Burj Dubai as the tallest we can go, until THAT mile high tower, which will be IT for the next half century after its construction.
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Old Posted Sep 4, 2012, 8:17 PM
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Quote:
because buildings are far lighter than solid mountains
This and much of the rest of the article is in the Captain Obvious (Daquan13) category.
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Old Posted Sep 14, 2012, 2:51 PM
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When you just consider habitable buildings, the problem with getting taller is that you need an expensive infrastructure with many elevators, water supply system, etc.. And there is the problem with fire safety, which increases much with growing height.

If you think of structures, with no or few people permanent on the top, these problems get much smaller respectively do not play a role.

Nevertheless even for those objects grow per height not linear, but at least in square.

I think one can build surely structures of steel and concrete several kilometres tall, which would be safe according today's engineering standards.

I believe that with wooden structures one went more to the limit. If in Russia really 220 metres tall wooden masts were ever realized as http://www.ngpedia.ru/id139569p1.html suggests, they may have been close to the limits ( the tallest object built for sure of wood was Mühlacker radio tower, which stood from 1934 to 1945 and was 190 metres tall)

Surely challenging is the project of a 100 metres high wooden tower for a wind turbine weighing 100 tons ( http://www.timbertower.de/en/project...type-hannover/ ).
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Old Posted Sep 14, 2012, 6:02 PM
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This is probably the tallest we can go without building a tall building.

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