I was casually browsing a list of the tallest skyscrapers
in the world the other day, because
you know, this is what I do in my spare time,
when I suddenly wondered
what actually counts as a skyscraper?
I live in an 11 storey building,
surely that’s not considered a skyscraper.
Looking at the skyline outside,
it’s pretty obvious that these are skyscrapers, but what’s
the bar of entry into becoming a Skyscraper?
Okay so, Wikipedia defines a Skyscraper
as “ a continuously habitable high-rise building
that has over 40 floors and is taller than approximately 150 m.
Ok great, thanks for watching.
I’ll see you guys next time.
Okay so no.
After doing just a bit more research,
and even just looking into Wikipedia’s sources
– you’ll find that there is actually no consensus
on what constitutes as a Skyscraper,
it’s a relative term whose definition has evolved significantly
in the last few centuries.
Turns out, the building I live in could have been considered a Skyscraper
Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s,
buildings taller than 10 stories were considered Skyscrapers.
This made sense,
since it only became possible to construct buildings that high after the
refinement of the Bessemer steel production
process and the invention of the first Safety
Elevator around the mid 1800s.
The Home Insurance Building in Chicago, completed in 1885,
is generally recognized as the world’s first skyscraper,
as it is the first building to utilize steel-girder construction.
Structures taller than 10 storey buildings
of course existed before that time but they
required massive masonry bases and often had to be as wide
as it is tall, such as the pyramids.
But for some reason people don’t
consider the Great Pyramid of Giza as a skyscraper
even though it’s almost as tall as the tallest building in Belgium.
As buildings soared past each other
in height continuously throughout the 20th century,
which is something that’s still going on today,
obviously people’s standard of what
qualifies as a skyscraper has risen.
So what’s the minimum standard for a Skyscrapernow?
Well there’s no consensus,
some say at least 40 storeys, some say 50.
Some think it should be 100.
The reason for this lack of definition is not just
that the average height of buildings have grown.
It’s more so because “ Skyscraper ” is not actually a technical term used in the
Architects, interior designers and engineers generally utilize
the term “High Building”or “High-rise Building.”
And while there is no global consensus on those terms’meanings either,
they are at least more precisely defined,
and used by professionals to make design decisions.
The international building code defines a“High-rise Building” as a “building
with an occupiable floor located more than75 feet (22.86m) above the lowest level of
fire department vehicle access.”
Here where I live in Ontario, Canada,
a “ High building ” is defined by the code as a building
either 18 m or 36 m high,
depending on usage type and occupant load.
You might think, who cares what counts asa high-rise?
Well it matters
because floors above a certain height can not be reached by fire-fighting
equipment from the ground,
and a building above a certain height can have a serious
impact on evacuation.
And thus, once a building surpasses a certain height,
different design decisions have
to be made regarding things like egress, fire suppression systems,
fire separation, and
interior materials selection.
I just realized like,
90 % of my architecture and design related videos
have to do with fire.
Sorry it’s a really hard topic to avoid. Anyway,
even though “ Skyscraper ” isn’t an industry used term,
I still think it’s a really important and valuable word
because it embodies humanity’s desires and ambitions.
We’ve been attempting to reach the heavens for millennia,
whether it’s the pyramids,gothic cathedrals,
modern glass towers,or these insane kilometre tall spires.
We keep trying to climb higher and higher.
And maybe that’s why most people
don’t ponder too much about where the lowest line
for a skyscraper sits.
They’re mostly focused on looking up.
Thanks for watching everyone.
So what’s your favourite skyscraper?
I’ll be a traditionalist and accept anybuildings over 10 floors.
So let me know in the comments or you can tweet me @ ARTiculationsV.
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