Will there ever be a mile-high skyscraper? – Stefan Al
100 Comments


In 1956, architect Frank Lloyd Wright proposed a mile-high skyscraper. It was going to be the world’s
tallest building, by a lot — five times as high as the Eiffel Tower. But many critics laughed at the architect, arguing that people would have to wait
hours for an elevator, or worse, that the tower would collapse
under its own weight. Most engineers agreed, and despite the publicity
around the proposal, the titanic tower was never built. But today, bigger and bigger buildings are going up
around the world. Firms are even planning skyscrapers
more than a kilometer tall, like the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, three times the size of the Eiffel Tower. Very soon, Wright’s mile-high miracle
may be a reality. So what exactly was stopping us from building these megastructures
70 years ago, and how do we build something
a mile high today? In any construction project, each story of the structure needs to be
able to support the stories on top of it. The higher we build, the higher the gravitational pressure
from the upper stories on the lower ones. This principle has long dictated
the shape of our buildings, leading ancient architects to favor
pyramids with wide foundations that support lighter upper levels. But this solution doesn’t quite translate
to a city skyline– a pyramid that tall would be roughly
one-and-a-half miles wide, tough to squeeze into a city center. Fortunately, strong materials like
concrete can avoid this impractical shape. And modern concrete blends are reinforced
with steel-fibers for strength and water-reducing polymers
to prevent cracking. The concrete in the world’s tallest tower,
Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, can withstand about 8,000 tons of pressure
per square meter– the weight of over 1,200
African elephants! Of course, even if a building
supports itself, it still needs support from the ground. Without a foundation, buildings this heavy would sink, fall,
or lean over. To prevent the roughly half a million
ton tower from sinking, 192 concrete and steel supports called
piles were buried over 50 meters deep. The friction between the piles
and the ground keeps this sizable structure standing. Besides defeating gravity, which pushes the building down, a skyscraper also needs to overcome
the blowing wind, which pushes from the side. On average days, wind can exert up to 17 pounds of force
per square meter on a high-rise building– as heavy as a gust of bowling balls. Designing structures to be aerodynamic, like China’s sleek Shanghai Tower, can reduce that force by up to a quarter. And wind-bearing frames inside or
outside the building can absorb the remaining wind force, such as in Seoul’s Lotte Tower. But even after all these measures, you could still find yourself swaying back
and forth more than a meter on top floors
during a hurricane. To prevent the wind from
rocking tower tops, many skyscrapers employ a counterweight
weighing hundreds of tons called a “tuned mass damper.” The Taipei 101, for instance, has suspended a giant metal orb
above the 87th floor. When wind moves the building, this orb sways into action, absorbing the building’s kinetic energy. As its movements trail the tower’s, hydraulic cylinders between the ball
and the building convert that kinetic energy into heat, and stabilize the swaying structure. With all these technologies in place, our mega-structures can stay
standing and stable. But quickly traveling through buildings
this large is a challenge in itself. In Wright’s age, the fastest elevators moved
a mere 22 kilometers per hour. Thankfully, today’s elevators are much
faster, traveling over 70 km per hour with future cabins potentially using
frictionless magnetic rails for even higher speeds. And traffic management algorithms
group riders by destination to get passengers and empty cabins
where they need to be. Skyscrapers have come a long way since
Wright proposed his mile-high tower. What were once considered impossible ideas have become architectural opportunities. Today it may just be a matter of time until one building goes the extra mile.

100 thoughts on “Will there ever be a mile-high skyscraper? – Stefan Al

  1. A mile tall skyscraper probably is less than a decade away. The Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia will be about 600 metres short of a mile.

  2. If you want a mile high building you need a bigass foundation easy peasy just like a pyramid top gets smaller

  3. Lifts can already go faster but you may as well be on a rollercoaster which is why they slow them down. Also the pull factor of the wind is usually more damaging to buildings

  4. I'm just sitting here thinking if someone in the future will see this video and be like ¨Haha, 1 mile? Childsplay¨ lmao Nah but I hope we can use more skyscrapers

  5. Engineers: Alright, let’s build a building with 1000 floors.
    Minecraft: YOU HAVE REACHED THE LIMIT OF 256 BLOCKS

  6. Imagine if we use these measurement Units in our daily lives..
    how much coffee do you want??
    Just 0.000001 African elephants please 😛

  7. Ah yes the absurd unit system that makes no sense!
    Weight- Elephants
    Length- mile and Eiffel towers
    Pressure- pounds per square meter
    Anything but SI system!

  8. Jeddah tower was planned to be 1-mile, but due to the nature of jeddah soil,, the height reduced to about 1 km

  9. My brother is actually working on a skyscraper he know haw it looks like and he seas that in 2024 the people will start working on it

  10. Like = You’re American, and you use the Imperial System
    Reply = You’re not American, and you use the Metric System

    For Non-Americans, a mile is 1.60934km

  11. If the building is a apartment complex and you live on the top floor it’s quite easy to get into the mile high club

  12. Before i watch the video, i just wanna say that if it will be built one day, no doubt the world is really close to Judgement Day

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