Archive for the 'Skyscrapers' Category


Interesting Skyscraper Facts

The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1889. It was built for the World’s Fair to demonstrate that iron could be as strong as stone while being infinitely lighter. And in fact the wrought-iron tower is twice as tall as the masonry Washington Monument and yet it weighs 70,000 tons less! It is repainted every seven years with 50 tons of dark brown paint.

The Home Insurance Building
Called “the father of the skyscraper,” the Home Insurance Building, constructed in Chicago in 1885 (and demolished in 1931), was 138 feet tall and 10 stories. It was the first building to effectively employ a supporting skeleton of steel beams and columns, allowing it to have many more windows than traditional masonry structures. But this new construction method made people worry that the building would fall down, leading the city to halt construction until they could investigate the structure’s safety.

The Chrysler Building
In 1929, auto tycoon Walter Chrysler took part in an intense race with the Bank of Manhattan Trust Company to build the world’s tallest skyscraper. Just when it looked like the bank had captured the coveted title, workers at the Chrysler Building jacked a thin spire hidden inside the building through the top of the roof to win the contest (subsequently losing the title four months later to the Empire State Building). Chrysler also decorated his building to mirror his cars, with hubcaps, mudguards, and hood ornaments.

The Empire State Building, in New York City
The Empire State Building is designed to be a lightning rod. In fact, it is struck by lightning about 100 times each year!

Citicorp Center
New York’s Citicorp Center (915 feet tall, 59 stories, built in 1977) was the first U.S. skyscraper to contain a tuned mass damper in order to control the building’s sway. The structure was also the site of a near catastrophe. During construction, instead of welding joints as originally specified, builders bolted them. A year after completion, with hurricane season fast approaching, the building’s chief engineer discovered the change and realized the joints would be too weak to withstand hurricane-force winds, potentially leading to the building’s collapse in a dense urban neighborhood. To correct the problem, a team of workers was hired to weld two-inch-thick steel plates over each of the 200 bolted joints. Six weeks into the three-month repair job, Hurricane Ella was off the coast of North Carolina, headed for New York. Luckily, just hours before New York City was to face emergency evacuation, the hurricane veered out to sea. This crisis was kept secret from the public for almost 20 years.

The Petronas Towers
In the Petronas Towers, the shape of the floors is based on an eight-point star, common in Malaysian Islamic patterns. The towers have so many windows that window washers take a month to clean each tower! You can get an up-close look at the building in the movie Entrapment, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery.

The Sears Tower, in Chicago, Illinois
John Hancock Center
In order to strengthen the John Hancock Center against Chicago’s famous winds, engineers included five enormous diagonal braces on the exterior walls of the building. These diagonals block the view from two windows on each floor. A clever rental agent, however, has made these sightless windows a status symbol and it actually costs more money to rent these rooms!

First Interstate World Center
First Interstate World Center (Library Tower) in Los Angeles is located just 26 miles from the San Andreas Fault and has been designed to withstand an earthquake of 8.3 or more on the Richter scale, with a massively reinforced central core and lighter columns around the perimeter. This design makes it flexible, so it can resist vigorous side-to-side shaking without snapping, yet stiff, so it can withstand the force of the wind.

The Sears Tower
On a clear day, you can see four states from the top of Chicago’s Sears Tower: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan. To make sure your view is clear, the building features six robotic window-washing machines mounted on the roof.

Taipei 101
Taipei 101 is comprised of 101 stories and reaches 1,667 ft (509 m) high. It was ranked as the world’s tallest building when it was topped out in 2003, but lost the title in 2010 to the Burj Khalifa (formerly called the Burj Dubai). A 660-ton pendular mass damper helps the skyscraper withstand tremors from earthquakes and typhoon winds.

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was completed in January 2010 and became the world’s tallest building at 2,716 feet (828 meters) and 160 stories. It contains the world’s fastest elevators, 20.7 acres of glass, and is expected to use about 250,000 gallons of water per day

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Time Lapse Video – Construction of Eleven Times Square NYC

Cool Time Lapse Video Of The Construction of Eleven Times Square NYC


Monadnock Building

The Monadnock Building, also known as Monadnock Block, is a historic proto-skyscraper in the Loop district of downtown Chicago, Illinois. It is arguably the world’s first skyscraper. The Monadnock is the tallest commercial building in the world with masonry load-bearing walls. It is located at 53 West Jackson Blvd.

The seventeen-story building stands 197 feet (60 meters) tall. The northern half was designed and built by Burnham & Root in 1889–1891; the southern half was designed and built by Holabird & Roche in 1891–1893. The building was designated a Chicago Landmark on November 14, 1973 and was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The northern half of the Monadnock represents the last Chicago skyscraper built using load-bearing wall construction; in order for the structure to support its own weight, the walls at the base of the structure are six feet (1.83 m) thick. The building was so heavy that it sank into the ground after it was built, requiring steps to be installed at the entrances. The walls curve in slightly at the second story and flare out at the top of the building, lending it a form similar to that of an Egyptian pylon. Architect John Root’s initial plans for the building included additional Egyptian embellishment, but the developer insisted that the building have no ornament.

The southern half of the building was built using the more technologically advanced steel frame construction, which allowed narrower piers and wider windows. The radical difference in construction between the two halves marks the building’s place in architectural history at the end of one building tradition and the beginning of another.

The building’s name is taken from the New Hampshire mountain that gave its name to the geological term indicating a freestanding mountain surrounded by a plain.



Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP (SOM) is an architectural and engineering firm that was formed in Chicago in 1936 by Louis Skidmore and Nathaniel Owings; in 1939 they were joined by John O. Merrill. They opened their first branch in New York City, New York in 1937. SOM is one of the largest architectural firms in the world. Their primary expertise is in high-end commercial buildings, as it was SOM that led the way to the widespread use of the modern international-style or “glass box” skyscraper. They have been built several of the tallest buildings in the world, including: John Hancock Center (1969, second tallest in the world when built), Sears Tower (1973, tallest in the world for over twenty years), and Burj Khalifa (2010, current world’s tallest building). SOM provides services in Architecture, Building Services/MEP Engineering, Digital Design, Graphics, Interior Design, Structural Engineering, Civil Engineering, Sustainable Design and Urban Design & Planning.

Many of SOM’s post-war designs have become icons of American modern architecture, including the Manhattan House (1950), designated as a New York City landmark in 2007 by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the Lever House (1952), also in New York City; as well as the Air Force Academy Chapel (1958) in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and the John Hancock Center (1969) and Willis Tower (1973), both in Chicago.

Although SOM was one of the first major modern American architectural firms to promote a corporate face, i.e. not specifically crediting individual architects for their buildings, many famous architects, engineers and interior designers have been associated with the various national offices.

Due to their faithful following of Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe’s ideas, Frank Lloyd Wright nicknamed them “The Three Blind Mies”.

Well-known SOM architects include: Gordon Bunshaft, Natalie de Blois, Myron Goldsmith, Bruce Graham, Gertrude Kerbis, Walter Netsch, Pietro Belluschi, Adrian Smith, Ferdinand Gottlieb, Larry Oltmanns, Fazlur Rahman Khan and David Childs.

The earliest amongst the many SOM engineers was John O. Merrill. Fazlur Khan, another engineer at SOM, is considered “the greatest structural engineer of the second half of the 20th century;” he is best known for his constructions of the Willis Tower and John Hancock Center and for his designs of structural systems that remain fundamental to all high-rise skyscrapers.[3] Indeed, Khan is responsible for developing the algorithms that made the Hancock building and many subsequent skyscrapers possible.

Interior designers
Davis Allen, a pioneer in corporate interior design, had a forty-year tenure at SOM.

Throughout its history, SOM has been recognized with more than 800 awards for quality and innovation. More than 125 of these awards have been received since 1998. In 1996 and 1962, SOM received the American Institute of Architects Firm Award[5], which recognizes the design work of an entire firm. SOM is the only firm to have received this honor twice.

In 2009, SOM received four of 13 R+D Awards from Architect Magazine. In addition, a collaboration between SOM and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, The Center for Architecture, Science & Ecology, was honored with a fifth award.

The firm’s website:


Fazlur Khan

Fazlur Rahman Khan (Bengali: ফজলুর রহমান খান Fozlur Rôhman Khan) (April 3, 1929 – March 27, 1982), born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, was a Bangladeshi-American architect and structural engineer. He did the structural engineering of the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and John Hancock Center. He is a central figure behind the “Second Chicago School” of architecture, and is regarded as the “father of tubular design for high-rises”. Khan, “more than any other individual, ushered in a renaissance in skyscraper construction during the second half of the twentieth century.”

Fazlur Rahman Khan is from the village of Bhandarikandi in Shibchar Upazila, Madaripur District, Dhaka Division. He was born on 3 April 1929, in Dhaka. His father, Khan Bahadur Abdur Rahman Khan, BES was ADPI of Bengal and after retirement served as Principal of Jagannath College, Dhaka.

Khan completed his undergraduate coursework at the Presidency College, Bengal Engineering College, University of Calcutta (Now Bengal Engineering & Science University, Shibpur). He received his bachelor’s degree from the Engineering Faculty of University of Dhaka (Now BUET) in 1951 while placing first in his class. A Fulbright Scholarship and a Pakistani government scholarship (as Bangladesh was East Pakistan then) enabled him to travel to the United States in 1952 where he pursued advanced studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In three years Khan earned two Master’s degrees — one in structural engineering and one in theoretical and applied mechanics — and a PhD in structural engineering.

In 1955, employed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, he began working in Chicago, Illinois. During the 1960s and 1970s, he became noted for his designs for Chicago’s 100-story John Hancock Center and 110-story Sears Tower, the tallest building in the world in its time and still the tallest in the United States since its completion in 1974. He is also responsible for designing notable buildings in Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia.

Fazlur Khan’s personal papers, the majority of which were found in his office at the time of his death, are held by the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicago. The Fazlur Kahn Collection includes manuscripts, sketches, audio cassette tapes, slides and other materials regarding his work.


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