Is There a Limit to How Tall Buildings Can Get?

August 17th, 2012 § 0 comments

It’s a rather futile exercise but still fun none the less. Nate Burg writing for The Atlantic talked to the chairman at the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat Tim Johnson.

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.

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Creative Commons LicenseThe Jumeirah Emirates Tower Hotel and Office Tower in Dubai by UggBoy♥UggGirl

Truly it seems that limits for how large of a structure we can build become more about practicality than anything else.

“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.

Of course if the building is large enough it could theoretically be self sustainable; trips to the ground might only be necessary when a resident wants to travel to a different super structure. Issac Asimov’s Robot Series played with the idea of mega structures that became cities1 and people rarely traveled outside.

This is why I find it rather silly to even ask if there is a limit to how tall our buildings can go. The limit, at least for the foreseeable future, is in our imagination.

  1. or perhaps one could say cities that became mega structures []

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