High Rise | Insurance | Apartment

High-Rise Buildings

High-rise buildings in the course of history

Technology of high-rise buildings

Risk potential



Münchener Rück Munich Re Group

Page 1 2 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 3 3.1 3.1.1 3.1.2 3.1.3 3.1.4 3.1.5 3.2 3.2.1 3.2.2 3.2.3 3.2.4 3.3 3.3.1 3.3.2 3.3.3 3.4 4 4.1 4.2 4.2.1 4.2.2 4.2.3 4.2.4 Introduction 4 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.5.1 4.5.2 4.6 4.7 4.7.1 4.7.2 4.7.3 4.7.4 4.8 4.8.1 4.8.2 4.8.3 4.8.4 4.9 5 5.1 5.1.1 5.1.2 5.1.3 5.1.4 5.1.5 5.1.6 5.2 5.2.1 5.2.2 5.2.3 5.3 5.3.1 5.3.2 5.3.3 5.3.4 5.4 5.4.1 5.4.2 5.4.3 5.4.4 5.5 Fire fighting Organizational measures Atriums Windstorm Earthquakes Foundations, settlement and subsidence Foundations Settlement and subsidence Water Special structural measures Conversions Rehabilitation Demolition Disposal Other risks Terrorism Impact Collapse Wear Loss of profit Insurance Property insurance Contractors’ and erection all risks insurance Advance loss of profit insurance Insurance of contractors’ plant and machinery Decennial liability insurance Insurance of buildings, fire insurance Loss of profit insurance Loss of rent Additional costs Contingency planning Prevention of access Third-party liability insurance Insurance of the designer’s risk Insurance of the construction risk Insurance of the operational risk Problem of maximum loss Construction phase Decennial liability insurance Operating phase Accumulation control Underwriting considerations Contractors’ and erection all risks insurance Contractors’ plant and machinery Decennial liability insurance Insurance of buildings, fire insurance Reinsurance Page 110 111 111 111 115 119 119 121 122 122 122 122 123 126 126 126 127 132 132 132 138 139 139 141 142 144 144 145 145 145 145 145 147 147 147 148 149 149 149 149 152 153 153 153 153 153 155

High-rise buildings in the course of history, technology and the environment 8 Historical development Architectural aspects and urban development today Financing models Infrastructural aspects Economic aspects Social and ecological aspects Technology of high-rise construction Planning Planners Regulations and directives Technical analyses and special questions Construction licensing procedure Other constraints Execution Foundations Supporting structure Load-bearing parts Special construction methods Facade Roof Interior finishing Service systems Installations Deliveries, vehicles Passenger transport, vertical development Waste disposal Occupancy Maintenance, administration Conversions Rehabilitation High-rise construction in the future Risk potential Design errors Fire Examples of losses during the construction phase Fire protection on construction sites Examples of losses during the occupancy phase Fire-protection regulations, loss prevention Regulations Structural fire protection Active loss-prevention measures 9 12 14 17 21 21 24 25 25 25 26 26 29 31 31 35 35 42 45 46 46 48 48 49 49 50 51 51 53 53 54 84 85 86 86 89 99 107 107 107 108


Summary and outlook


1 Introduction 1 .

visible from far and wide.8 m thick. reasonable economic considerations often recede into the background during the erection and subsequent use of these high-rise buildings. high-rise buildings have always been a dominant landmark in the townscape. a real competition has developed among the builders of skyscrapers to be world champion at least for a few months before being outdone by a rival with an even higher building. In the early years. Since then.Page 5 1 Introduction High-rise buildings have always triggered major debates and aroused emotion. The high-rise office buildings of the nineties have little in common with their predecessors. A prestige object for the builder. This rapid development has only become possible because the technical conditions and methods used in constructing high-rise buildings have improved decisively and in some cases changed fundamentally in the last few years. but also influence many areas of urban life in very different ways. but also gave wings to the architects’ imagination. high-rise buildings were still made of solid brick masonry. it thus not only cut the costs of construction. 1 Introduction Up until the end of the last century. which ultimately required foundation walls up to 1. In the light of this goal. Even seemingly Utopian projects now stand a good chance of becoming reality. this sky-scraping construction method has always been an ideal means of displaying power and influence in the community. These aspects will also be taken up in this publication. . When steel frames adapted from steel bridge construction were introduced. the construction of high-rise buildings has continued to change with the requirements imposed by air-conditioning and particularly office communications. With this steel skeleton. like the towers of Antiquity and the Middle Ages. however. The building comprises a skeleton of steel or reinforced concrete which is rounded off by suspended ceilings and false floors creating the space required for installations. they were designing buildings that also looked light and delicate as even at that time the skeleton structure permitted a large proportion of windows on the outer facade. At the same time. By the turn of the century. That is hardly surprising. the builders’ urge to rise to dizzying heights was limited by unsolved technical problems. we now have a high-tech structure made up of largely prefabricated elements which are welded and bonded together on site. the net weight of the structure was considerably lower than that of a solid masonry building. builders and architects were able to soar to greater heights. considering that this type of building radiates more symbolic power than almost any other. Instead of compact walls and ceilings. In recent years. The originally From their beginning in the middle of the last century and right up to the present day. with their increased strength and lower weight. these edifices not only have an effect on their immediate neighbours.

and therefore. loss assessment and PML determination throughout every phase of construction and subsequent use. This is consequently one of the main reasons why highrise buildings constitute a new dimension of risk for the insurance industry.1 Introduction Page 6 02 SAN GIMIGNANO load-bearing outer wall has been replaced by a prefabricated facade. this complex method of construction promotes the spread of fire and fumes. This special publication is also intended. the construction of high-rise buildings has by no means reached its zenith. The definition of a high-rise building differs from one country to the next. as a means of passing on to others our experience from the major losses that have occurred in the recent past. The problem of high-rise buildings is one which we – as insurers and reinsurers – will also have to consider in the future. However. particularly those on underground railways and bridges. in conjunction with the considerable concentration of values involved. last but not least. we do not wish to limit ourselves to aspects which only apply specifically to highrise buildings. use and insurance of high-rise buildings naturally apply in the case of lower buildings too. For our purposes. We are fully aware of the fact that many of the aspects considered with regard to the construction. one which has made it necessary to draw up new concepts for underwriting. The major fires which broke out in a number of high-rise office buildings shortly before their completion in the early nineties show how correct the appraisal of the fire risk in high-rise buildings is. Moreover. After a brief historical overview. Nevertheless. We therefore believe that this publication on high-rise buildings is an appropriate addition to our comprehensive series of special publications. represents an extremely sensitive risk both during construction and throughout the service life of the building. we will proceed on the basis of a minimum height of 30 m and will restrict ourselves to buildings used for residential or office purposes. The losses incurred through these fires are several times higher than the amounts of indemnity known to date. we will therefore consider in detail all the risks and problems associated with high-rise buildings and the techniques that are applied in order to illuminate possible solutions from the point of view of both construction technology and insurance. Despite the various critical voices raised. 03 MONADNOCK BUILDING . the more broadly based general information available will make it easier not only to assess the risk of high-rise building projects but also to arrive at a price for insuring such projects.


4 Infrastructural aspects 2. technology and the environment 2 2.2 High-rise buildings in the course of history.5 Economic aspects 2.3 Financing models 2.2 Architectural aspects 2.1 Historical development 2.6 Social and ecological aspects .

The early Equitable Life Building in New York. “High-rise buildings”.1 High-rise buildings in the course of history. Jenney used an uncommon new method for the construction of his building: the weight of the walls was borne by a framework of cast-iron columns and rolled I-sections which were bolted together via L-bars and the entire “skeleton” embedded in the masonry. it was the done thing to reside on one of the “top” floors. on the other hand. must also be mentioned as one of the last witnesses of a whole generation of solid masonry high-rise buildings. Seen in this light. the Tower of Babel was to “reach unto heaven” (Genesis 11). clear lines: an astonishing sight to eyes accustomed to the frills and fancies of the late 19th century. the building is reminiscent of a thin slice and not only recalls the industrial brick buildings of the late 19th century. 2 2. Burnham and Roof’s Monadnock building. – the legendary Empire State Building. 417 m high. What could be a more appropriate point to begin our consideration of high-rise buildings than with the Tower of Babel and then to trace their historical development over the centuries. 381 m. It has twelve floors – there were originally ten. The buildings rose higher and higher with the spread of pioneering construction methods – such as the steel skeleton or reliable deep foundation methods – as well as the invention and development of the elevator. However. which was completed in 1872. Although it only had six floors. The first high-rise office building according to this definition was built in Chicago in 1885: the Home Insurance Building. Standing on an oblong base measuring 59 m ҂ 20 m. also contributed towards the development of high-rise buildings. currently the tallest building in New York. The highly spectacular skylines of North American cities. high-rise buildings have their origins in the towers of San Gimignano rather than in the Tower of Babel or ecclesiastical structures. It still stands on the corner of La Salle and Adams Street.Page 9 04 THE TOWER OF BABEL 2 High-rise buildings in the course of history. which was completed in Chicago in 1891. usually identical floors of normal height one above the other. the upper floors were in greater demand than the lower floors. But when the Lord saw what the people had done. Sixteen floors of robust brick masonry rise skywards in stern. particularly Chicago and New York. Due to its elevator. B. L. built in 1931. albeit very high floor. have many. technology and the environment According to the Bible. The architect W. He confused their language and scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth so that they left off building the city. the . technology and the environment Historical development edge of the roof was no less than 130 feet (roughly 38 m) above the road surface. the silhouettes dotting the first 12 km of the 22-km-long island bear vociferous testimony to this dynamic development: – the World Trade Center. but also anticipates the formal simplification of the later 1920s. Following completion of the “Equitable” building. a distinction must be made between “high buildings” and “high-rise buildings”: “high buildings” have only a few floors and not uncommonly only one. Glancing over Manhattan’s stony profile. but two were subsequently added – and was built in roughly eighteen months. originated in the early years of the 20th century. a witness of its times. for it was the first tall building to have an elevator. They are crowned by a high roof and turrets (in the manner typical of medieval and Gothic cathedrals).

2 High-rise buildings in the course of history. technology and the environment Top left: 05 EQUITABLE LIFE BUILDING Bottom left: 06 HOME INSURANCE BUILDING Right: 07 NEW YORK PANORAMA .


for this terraced form still dominates the silhouette of American skyscrapers today. the Rockefeller Center (1931–1940). Frankfurt is the only German city with a skyline dominated by skyscrapers. New York demonstrated what was meant by “urban densification” despite the considerable doubts originally voiced by experts in conjunction with this development. Cities in Europe and Asia grew horizontally and it was only when production and services acquired greater economic significance throughout the world and the price of land rose higher and higher in economic centres after the Second World War that they also began to grow vertically. technology and the environment Page 12 08 HONGKONGBANK HEADQUARTERS BUILDING. the zoning law stipulated that only the first twelve floors of a building were allowed to occupy the full area of the site and that all subsequent floors must then recede in zoned terraces – a requirement of major aesthetic significance. It is only recently that attention has also turned to interesting high-rise buildings outside North America: Norman Foster’s Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. Ieoh Ming Pei’s Bank of China in Hong Kong and the twin tops of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. New York once again provides a striking example: land became scarce well over a hundred years ago as more and more European immigrants streamed into the city. More and more skyscrapers rose higher and higher on the solid ground in Manhattan. FRANKFURT AM MAIN – – – – the United Nations building erected in 1953. the Chrysler Building dated 1930. and – the AT&T Building opened in 1984. currently the tallest office and business tower in North America with a total height of 443 m.4 million by 1899. which is not much more than half the height of the Sears Tower in Chicago. It was the rapid growth in population that originally promoted the construction of high-rise buildings. the city’s population grew to 1. a pioneering building by the post-modern architect Philip Johnson. Kowloon and the New Territories). High-rise buildings in Germany are a modern development and are concentrated particularly in Frankfurt am Main: today. All doubts as to the profitability of high-rise buildings were set aside with completion of the Empire State Building. 320 m. it subsequently generated satisfactory revenues once all the premises had been let. From roughly half a million in 1850. the construction of edifices reaching higher . HONG KONG 09 MESSETURM. Although rentals proceeded slowly at first when the Empire State Building was completed in the heart of the recession in the 1930s and it was therefore known as the “Empty State Building” for many years. Among other things. The first area development code to come into force in New York was the so-called “zoning law” of 1916. office towers and particularly residential towers in the New Territories have more than thirty floors. 215 m. for they would never have been built if they could not have turned a profit. of which only one-quarter has been developed. One of the tallest buildings in the city is the Messeturm built in 1991 with a height of 259 m.2 High-rise buildings in the course of history. accord- ing to which the height of a building must not exceed twoand-a-half times the width of the road running alongside the building. – the Citicorp Center built in 1978. currently the tallest building in the world at 452 m. 2. 279 m.037 km2 (Victoria. The building mass was further limited by the requirement that the floor space index must not exceed twelve times the area of the site. as buildings could only be erected with great difficulty on the boggy land to the right and left of the Hudson River and East River. the former Pan Am Building completed in 1963. Almost all the new buildings. the Chrysler Building and other skyscrapers in the 1930s. 246 m. Modern Hong Kong is a striking case in point: it encompasses an area of 1. In this way.2 Architectural aspects and urban development today As the historical development of high-rise buildings has already shown. a complex of 19 buildings. but with maximum density and impressive efficiency. with an overall height of 197 m.


as when town councillors set aside major urban development considerations and with seeming generosity set up public areas in the form of lobbies and plazas in high-rise buildings. however. They created new stylistic elements and added their “signature” to entire periods. at no time in the past were such huge buildings erected in such a short space of time. Looking back. it was the master builder and architect who defined the construction and consequently the appearance of a building. The names of the builders and architects have only been known since the high Middle Ages around 1000 AD. In other words. However. The owner of the building will rarely be willing or able to bear these costs 11 HIGH DENSITY: HONG KONG SKYLINE . The suburbs of modern American cities are a prime example: as far as the eye can see. a scale which could still be directly related to the size of a human being. automated sequences are beneficial to high-rise buildings. – Connections to the infrastructure are improved by concentrating so many people in such a small area. high-rise buildings do little to prevent land being sealed on a large scale. a scale of at least 1:1000 is required simply in order to depict the building on paper. With today’s highrise buildings. they do not see any reason why they should base their own designs on existing standards. is 6:1. This almost inevitably raises the question why high-rise buildings should have to be built in today’s dimensions. – The sheer magnitude of the projects forces all planners to adopt a scale totally out of proportion to all natural dimensions and particularly to the people concerned when planning their buildings. Unfortunately. high-rise buildings still occupy areas of truly gigantic proportions: the ratio of height-to-base width of the cubes in the 417-m-high World Trade Center. the landscape is covered with single-family homes. This is equally true of both ecclesiastical and secular buildings: the power. – Many of the techniques and materials which are also used for “normal” buildings today would never have been invented and would never have become established if high-rise construction had not presented a challenge in terms of technical feasibility. Since architects must expect that later buildings will have their own.2 High-rise buildings in the course of history. Three points become clear if we take a closer look at modern trends in high-rise construction: – The dictate of tastes mentioned above is expressive of the egotism prevalent in modern society with its desire for status symbols and designer brands. The towers of San Gimignano are one of the best preserved examples of this development.3 Financing models The construction costs for high-rise buildings often run into hundreds of millions of dollars. In many North African cities. this makes it difficult for us today to decide whether these master craftsmen shaped the various stylistic developments or whether a number of master builders only became so well known because their work reflected the contemporary fashion trends most accurately.9 mm. swimming pools and artificially designed gardens simply to provide sufficient private residential land for all the people working in a high-rise building occupying only a few thousand square metres. – In the past. to express economic and corporate power and domination in impressive visual terms. Drawn to a scale of 1:2000. their standing in society – is mirrored in the erection of ever taller buildings culminating in a battle to build. a human being is represented by a minute dot measuring barely 0. for example. All institutions of public life are united under a single roof and the distances between them have been minimized. This is illustrated by the example of the Sears Tower in Chicago: completed in 1974. That still holds true today. In the past. but it does illuminate some of the facets that are central to considering the risk potential inherent in high-rise buildings. Despite their height. on the other hand. too. strength and influence of entire families – i. The brevity of the various stylistic trends is one of the reasons for the inhomogeneous appearance of modern towns and cities. – One reason is indisputably the need for a “landmark”. – The steadily rising price of land in prime locations and an increasingly scarce supply have made it essential to make optimum use of the air space. Rationalized. the only difference being that tastes change very much more rapidly and “degenerate” into short-lived fashions. Nothing has changed in this respect since the very first high-rise buildings were erected. 2. urban development plans were easily drawn up on a scale of 1:100 or at most 1:200. this attitude has moulded the townscape for many centuries and will no doubt continue to do so in the future. the public not uncommonly bows to this dictate.000 per square metre are not uncommon for land in conurbations and economic centres.000 people – that is the equivalent of a medium-sized town. completely different formal identity. Short construction periods also mean shorter financing periods and consequently profits which partly compensate for the additional costs incurred in the construction and finishing of the building. A building that reflects the spirit of the times when it is finished can appear “old” within only a few years. urban development and economic background is not basically to cast doubt on high-rise buildings as such.e. the Tower measures 443 m in height. This critical discourse on the architectural. Prices in excess of DM 50. the appropriate and basically essential symbiosis between engineering designer and artist has been abandoned. today. particularly as this would merely cause them to be considered “unimaginative”. however. technology and the environment Page 14 and higher into the sky was – and to a certain extent still is – an expression of power and strength. The World Trade Center alone provides jobs for over 50. technical developments determine what can and cannot be done.



operate and transfer” (there are other variations but these will not be discussed in further detail here). The ensemble is rounded off by the Grande Arche de la Défense designed by the Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen and completed in 1989. The developer usually draws up what is known as a master plan for complete districts and then retains (usually prominent) architects to design the various components of the master plan independently of one another. for the building is then no longer shown on the assets side as a property secured by entry in the land register. it can continue to use the building in return for a monthly leasing fee which. This made La Défense attractive to investors and tenants alike. The traffic systems. With the leasing model. the entire necessary infrastructure was completed before the construction work actually started: underground railway lines and roads. it acquires the urgently needed capital. On the other hand. amounts to no more than a fraction of the purchase price received. such as an office tower. Selling the building – often a prestige object in a prime location – to a leasing company is of two-fold advantage to the company: firstly. 2. the owner of the land waives all or some of the income from occupancy of the building for a certain period of time. Mostly office towers were erected on this slab with open squares and green areas in between. the builder must obtain rents that are calculated to cover his debt service and draw a profit from the invested capital (“operate”). During this time. debt service and exhausted credit lines will then constrict his operative freedom. In return. The developer then seeks to find tenants or lessees for the building which at this stage only exists on paper. both the land and the office tower become the property of the landowner (“transfer”). and secondly. There are differences between these financing models: although the BOT model grants the landowner the right to ownership. the high capital investment required is transferred to the lessor and the financing costs are replaced by monthly payments akin to rent by the lessee. motorway and access roads were moved below ground level and covered by a concrete slab 1. service systems were all planned and built beforehand. the owner of the land places his land at the disposal of a contractor who then erects a building on it. Originally planned as a homogeneous townscape. The composition of corporate assets is changed by such a transaction. After having consumed roughly US$ 3bn. the new district soon pulsated with life as an economically sound basis for the entire project.2 km long. The Grande Arche is a huge cube which is open on two sides with 37 office floors and a height of 110 m equal to its ground lengths. BOT BOT stands for “build. . A dilapidated district was demolished and completely redesigned. technology and the environment without outside assistance. At the end of the agreed occupancy period. The builder’s risk with regard to rents and debt interest is often considerable.Page 17 2 High-rise buildings in the course of history. the best known models are briefly outlined below. the half-finished project was temporarily abandoned before finally being completed and let following a variety of financial transactions. the result is then nothing more than an unrelated fragment and areas that should have been filled with life appear to be deserted and uninhabited instead. This alternative is commonly chosen when a company finds itself in financial straits and needs cash. such as Metro. In the case of this financing model. All the capital invested on the site came from private sources and was controlled by a public-law community of interests. however. however. The contractor must organize the project’s financing himself. The owner of the land can exert a certain influence on the planning and intended use. Construction work begins when tenants or lessees have been found. be it with own funds or with the aid of loans (“build”). In times of sluggish investment activity. This was triggered by urban renewal programmes and changes in tax regulations for large construction projects for which new financing models were developed in the USA in the sixties and seventies. but above all to the manner in which the necessary infrastructure for the two projects was tackled. a fully functional and above all adequately dimensioned infrastructure was consequently available when the buildings were taken into service.4 Infrastructural aspects The different fates of La Défense and Canary Wharf are not (only) due to the extremely different planning periods of 30 years (La Défense) and 8 years (Canary Wharf). however. DEVELOPER The developer is a new profession born out of the explosive rise in construction costs which has been intensified by increasingly large buildings and structures. This suburb was created on the drawing board in the 1950s. but does not share in the construction costs. La Défense in the Paris Basin is a typical example of such a development. This can be a disadvantage when new loans are needed. particularly high-rise buildings. urban railway. In the case of La Défense. Alternative financing models are therefore frequently sought. LEASING Leasing of buildings. usually 25 years. As a result. In the mid-nineties London’s Docklands provided a dramatic example of such a development: the transformation of the West India Docks built between 1802 and 1806 resulted in what was for a while the highest mountain of debt in the world with the high-rise obelisk on Canary Wharf. he is for a long time excluded from occupancy of the property. it is not uncommon to find that only certain parts of the master plan are actually realized. can to a large extent be compared with rentals.




Even a brief power failure can result in operational and economic chaos. correspondingly high rents must be charged. economic and investment difficulties must be overcome for such prospective planning because the owner of the high-rise complex bears no direct responsibility for the large majority of these far-reaching infrastructural measures. almost every high-rise construction project is doomed to at least economic failure if the infrastructure is not considered. The situation of Canary Wharf in London’s Docklands is exactly the opposite and proves that the La Défense type of planning is the economically more appropriate approach. It is claimed – and there are probably a number of studies to prove – that cohabitation in high-rise buildings does not work as smoothly as in homogeneous. as well as by supply and operating companies and not by the owner of the complex. The most commonly voiced reservations with regard to high-rise apartment blocks concern the social aspect. this transport system fell far short of meeting the requirements. hotels.Page 21 2 High-rise buildings in the course of history. planned and actually installed down to the very last detail. the road connections were likewise improved at the cost of almost US$ 1bn. The same applies to outside disturbances in the form of strikes by public transport corporations or a malfunction in the underground or urban railway system. while the socially weaker classes are excluded. This made the Docklands unattractive to both commercial and private tenants. shops and apartments for high-income tenants.5 Economic aspects Hundreds of companies and thousands of people depend on the smooth operation of a high-rise building. Nor should it be overlooked that even the municipal authorities and the service companies are also affected by the “failure” of a high-rise building and that its effects can be felt nationwide or even worldwide in the worst case. A building in disrepair will soon drive away the “good” tenants and become a slum. Two diametrically opposed ghetto situations can easily arise in high-rise apartment blocks: since the costs for construction and maintenance of these buildings are disproportionately high. with the result that these blocks are more or less reserved for the well-off. with thousands of square metres of tailor-made office space. rapes and other crimes are committed in such buildings than in residential areas with smaller rented or private homes. However. historically grown districts with numerous small. poorly lit corridors devoid of human beings. It is not without good cause that these areas are commonly referred to as “dormitory towns”. from the one-man business of a newspaper vendor or shoeshiner and corporations with thousands of employees. These range from transport companies and catering firms to tradesmen under long-term contract in the building. despite the associated delay in starting construction work and the longer preliminary financing required. muggings. An Underground link was finally built after extensive planning and at the enormous cost of roughly US$ 1. high-rise apartment blocks can rapidly cease to be attractive if compromises are made with regard to the building quality. homogeneous population structures with their positive effects on social conduct are rarely found and the charge that high-rise apartment blocks are hostile to families and children is consequently not entirely unfounded. maintenance or infrastructure on account of the high investment costs entailed. A rail-bound fully automatic cabin railway known as the Docklands Light Railway was to ensure the necessary access. This scenario not only applies to such total failure as a Criticism today focuses particularly on the social and ecological effects of high-rise buildings. As these examples show.7bn. refuse collection rooms and bicycle garages. manageable dwellings. Conversely. Studies have also proved beyond all doubt that criminal activity is promoted by huge apartment blocks and particularly high-rise buildings. television and telecommunications companies which use the roofs and tops of high-rise buildings for the transmission and receiving installations. a high-rise building is an incredibly sensitive and vulnerable system. According to these studies. The vertical structure of the . however. Not only high-rise apartment blocks have a usually negative effect on people’s social environment: office towers are equally disadvantageous. The road connections for private traffic and public buses were similarly inadequate. brokers or global players with a daily turnover in the order of several billions to radio. there are innumerable other businesses and workers with their families whose economic situation is directly or indirectly linked with the high-rise building. Organic. as its capacity was far too low and it lacked the essential connection to the London Underground. technology and the environment A jungle of political. such as banks. Despite (or precisely because of) its size. 2. The project’s progress is consequently controlled by the municipal authorities. major fire or collapse of the building. as well as to the “pro-crime” environment with elevators. laundries and above all underground parking lots. A second City of London was to be created in the heart of the Docklands within the shortest possible space of time. The anonymity suffered by the people in these “residential factories” is criticized in particular – above all on account of the total isolation from other residents in order to avoid the stress of permanent contact. The ghetto situation is intensified when high-rise apartment blocks are built in newly developed fringe areas – far away from cultural and social centres – on account of the high cost of land in inner city areas. burglaries.6 Social and ecological aspects 2. In addition. this phenomenon is attributable to the anonymity of the residents. It is a proven fact that considerably more murders. Only then did the precarious economic situation of Canary Wharf improve.

such as glass panes. from the particularly energy-intensive and therefore expensive construction as such to the disproportionately high demolition costs. uses energy worth less than DM 1 per square metre. The World Trade Center. that is no doubt meant in a positive sense. etc.2 High-rise buildings in the course of history. The people outside the high-rise buildings also often have the feeling that they are being observed or threatened by the possibility of falling objects. The “energy balance” of high-rise buildings is also poor in other respects such as the water supply. it may also be indicative of the employee’s standing in the company. . The company’s top executives reside on the uppermost floors with the best views. High-rise buildings are sometimes described as microcosms. these skyscrapers more or less become the real stars of the film on account of their magic attraction and immediate recognizability. It is therefore not wrong to question whether high-rise office towers are really appropriate to modern organizational structures with their emphasis on team work and interdisciplinary cooperation. have been torn out of their anchorage by strong winds and injured or even killed people on the street below. plastics and a wide variety of chemicals. but the reality is different. It seems that their directors simply cannot avoid the temptation of reducing one of New York’s most beautiful buildings – the Chrysler Building – to a smouldering heap of rubble with the help of floods. if the company occupies several or all the floors in a high-rise building. The people in a high-rise building are totally cut off from the world around them. technology and the environment Page 22 buildings simultaneously underlines the vertical hierarchy: the location of the office space becomes an indicator of a company’s “importance” and. They live in an artificial world. From the point of construction economy in general. for example. high-rise buildings are made almost exclusively of materials which a construction biologist would take great pains to avoid. namely concrete. That applies to both heating and cooling: some skyscraper facades have to be cooled by day and heated by night in order to avoid undue stresses and the resultant damage. for they not uncommonly generate air turbulence and downdrafts in their immediate vicinity. monsters or meteorites. which usually only operates with the aid of booster pumps. the high-rise buildings also have a negative effect on the world around them. they can be a source of unpleasant reflections and some adjacent areas remain permanently in the shade. from smells. as well as in terms of the disposal systems and operation of the elevators. Our love-hate relationship with high-rise buildings is finally also revealed in such recent box-office hits from Hollywood as “Deep Impact”. High-rise buildings are the farthest removed from the ideal form as regards energy efficiency – namely the sphere. the Messeturm in Frankfurt burns up energy worth DM 40 per square metre of useful floor space for heating and cooling every month. however. or the cube in the case of houses. for there have been cases in which parts of buildings. consumes some 680. the floors below provide a shield and every employee can positively see the distance between himself and “them up there“. light metal. That fear is surely not entirely unfounded.000 kWh/day electricity for air-conditioning during periods of strong solar irradiation. Illuminated facades and large glass fronts are a death trap for many birds. from wind and weather. A well insulated low-energy house. “Godzilla” or “Independence Day”. highrise buildings will probably always be the poorest conceivable solution. Excessive energy consumption is a major shortcoming of high-rise buildings and one which could possibly lead to their demise one day. from temperature. At the same time. Moreover. the residents are frequently exposed to constant stresses in the form of pollutant emissions and electrosmog. sounds and moods. by comparison. As a result. steel. Although subjectively unaware of the fact.


3 Occupancy 3.2 Execution 3.3 Technology of high-rise construction 3 3.4 High-rise construction in the future .1 Planning 3.

1 Planners The complexity of the trades to be coordinated has become several times greater since then. generally applicable technical and trade rules must be taken into account and observed in addition to the standards and regulations. the American Colonel William A. the list would probably be ten times longer. sanitation. it soon becomes clear that highly professional management is essential for such a project. In addition to the requirements imposed by public authorities. Starrett wrote that no peacetime activity bore greater resemblance to a military strategy than the construction of a skyscraper. And if we then consider that bankers. management and strong nerves among all concerned in their planning and construction. there are also re- 3. regulations. as the “generally accepted technical rules for construction“.2 Regulations and directives The various laws. structurization and coordination of construction projects. hydrogeology and environmental protection – Design of outdoor facilities and vegetation – Surveying of the actual situation in surrounding buildings If we were to include all the contractors and specialists involved in the project as well. these regulations are primarily designed to ensure personal safety and then to protect the building against damage and defects. Project management companies have come to play an increasingly important role in recent years as they take over the entire organization. As a rule. 3 Technology of high-rise construction course of the entire planning and construction of a skyscraper project. in other words. ventilation. legal advisers and even advertising agencies or brokers must also be coordinated in the . for example. It is standard practice in some countries to base the bidding and planning phase for projects on foreign standards (particularly on the American ANSI Codes and UL Standards.1 Planning 3. British Standards or the German DIN standards) or to include various elements of these foreign standards in the national system of standards. directives and standards in force must be taken into account when planning and erecting a building. the new block built for Südwest-Landesbank in Stuttgart: many disciplines and different experts were involved solely in the project planning: – Architects – Planning engineers for the supporting structures (engineering design and structural analyses) – Construction and site management (resident engineer) – Planning of the technical building services (particularly heating. As long ago as 1928. The planning engineers are also obliged to observe what are known in Germany. Take. 3.1.1. cooling and airconditioning) – Interior designers – Construction physics and construction biology – Planning and site management for data networks – Planning of the lighting and materials handling – Planning of the electrical and electronic systems – Planning of the facades – Surveying engineers – Geotechnology. they are all basically similar in content with a few differences depending on the local circumstances.Page 25 3 Technology of high-rise construction Skyscrapers are gigantic projects demanding incredible logistics. for instance. construction authorities. Although each country has its own regulations and directives governing the construction of high-rise buildings. They act as professional representatives for the client and embody the frequently voiced desire for the entire project to be coordinated by a single partner.

such as those involving high- The regulations governing the stability of a building are usually met by the requisite structural analyses. such as the minimum distance between a high-rise building and neighbouring buildings. Sometimes a decisive element may be lacking to obtain a mathematical approximation. If all the regulations governing highrise construction were to be stacked one on top of the other in printed form. Extensive soil analyses are required to determine the strength of the subsoil before deciding on the location for a high-rise building. railings and parapets or the installation of emergency lighting.) to the relevant construction supervisory authority. PROTECTION AGAINST NATURAL HAZARDS The regulations and directives governing protection against natural hazards are usually closely associated with the demonstration of stability. In many cases. Such regulations may concern planning aspects. they must all be able to leave the building in the shortest possible space of time and without risk of injury. These requirements can be classified in four groups: FIRE PROTECTION AND OPERATIONAL SECURITY Many of the construction regulations concern fire protection. the stability calculations must also include possible deformation due to thermal expansion. wind loads and live loads or dead weight. this will serve to rule out the risk of bodily injury due to falling parts of the building. especially parts of the facade. There can be many thousands of people in a highrise building at any one time. indeed. cores are drilled into the load-bearing subsoil to obtain soil samples. SOCIAL ASPECTS AND PROTECTION OF THE SURROUNDINGS The regulations governing social aspects and protection of the area surrounding high-rise buildings are designed above all to prevent any indirect risk or threat to people. these studies can only be carried out by highly specialized test institutes. the principal will file an application with all the requisite documents (description. corresponding statutory instruments may also govern the effects on air traffic safety or the building’s influence of radio communications. the vibrations can intensify until the entire building collapses. STABILITY AND CONSTRUCTION PHYSICS This exceedingly concise outline of applicable regulations illuminates only some of the rules to be observed when building a skyscraper.1. .5).2. The situation is particularly critical if the vibrations reach the resonant frequency of the building: in such a case. The drilling profile of the geological strata making up the subsoil and laboratory analyses of the soil samples provide the basic data for the soil report which is in turn used as the basis for planning the supporting structures and choosing a suitable foundation structure with due regard for the loads exerted by the high-rise building. or they may take the form of rules defining the maximum permissible influence that a building can have on the microcosm surrounding it. these effects cannot be determined by ordinary computation. This is why regulations concerning the number and execution of escape routes and fire escapes. The collapse of the Tacoma Bridge in Washington State. etc. was probably the most spectacular case of destruction due to resonant vibration in a man-made structure. A detailed knowledge of mathematics and physics is necessary to ensure that the same physical properties and serviceable results are obtained despite the reduction in scale. the assumed loads and design rules for the “load cases” of earthquake and windstorm will be specified by the regulations in order to ensure that the building will withstand windstorms or earthquakes up to certain load limits. Depending on the location of the high-rise building. the execution of stairs. plans. Windstorms and earthquakes are the most serious natural hazards for high-rise buildings. The additional vibration loads can result in overall loads of the same order of magnitude as the load exerted by the dead weight of the structure. In the majority of cases. As a rule. USA. for instance by taking steps to limit the (unavoidable) cracks in concrete elements.3 Technical analyses and special questions Planning a high-rise building would be inconceivable today without the help of experts and technical consultants. In addition to demonstrating the internal structural strength of the construction and safe transfer of loads to the subsoil. This is closely related with demonstrating the safety of the construction. Some regulations also include CO2 alarm systems for underground parking lots. fire compartments and the choice of materials must be observed (see Section 4. for example. The forces acting on the high-rise structure in the event of an earthquake must be taken into account when erecting high-rise buildings in areas prone to seismic activity. sanitary rooms and kitchens. Models of the highrise buildings are exposed to artificial earthquakes on a vibratory table or subjected to a simulated hurricane in the wind tunnel. Even computer simulation cannot always help. in other cases. The involvement of specialists is obligatory in the case of larger and more complicated projects.3 Technology of high-rise construction Page 26 quirements imposed by insurance companies with the aim of ensuring greater protection for property. The same applies to wind loads and particularly to the dynamic effects of windstorm or earthquake loads. If a fire breaks out. For this reason. At the same time. they would themselves be as high as a multi-storey building. As a rule. there are even regulations governing the non-slip nature of floor coverings in traffic areas.1. the computer may be too slow or the storage capacity inadequate. This frequently makes it necessary to carry out model experiments in a scientific laboratory. 3. analyses. Operational security encompasses regulations governing the safety of elevators and escalators.4 Construction licensing procedure The construction licensing procedure is normally specified in the construction laws of the country concerned. 3.


3 Technology of high-rise construction Page 28 .

Take. the owners are guided by similar considerations when the 13th floor is omitted from the planning or the technical installations are deliberately located on this floor in order to avoid the unlucky number 13. The licence is then sent to the principal together with the requirements specified by the specialists. water authorities. religion and even the belief in spirits and demons still play a not insignificant part in many countries. In western countries. it must be said that such intervention is limited by technical and structural requirements.1. 3. Tradition. the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank building in Hong Kong: during the planning phase. environment protection agencies or similar offices in other specific fields.5 Other constraints Even in our high-tech era.e. the planning and construction of a high-rise building are not dictated only by naked factual constraints.Page 29 3 Technology of high-rise construction rise buildings. too. responsibility for complying with these requirements rests with the principal or owner of the building. for example. a geomancer or expert on “fung shui” (i. 19 OPENING IN AN APARTMENT COMPLEX ALLOWING NEGATIVE VIBES TO PASS THROUGH . trade supervisory offices. These specialists review the applications for a construction licence and specify any additional requirements to be met. Such specialists include experts from the municipal fire brigade. However. “wind and water“) repositioned the escalators and moved executive offices and conference rooms to the other side of the building on the basis of astrological investigations and measurements in order to guarantee an optimum sense of well-being for clients and employees.


Diaphragm walls are another means of producing deep foundations. These walls are produced directly in the ground and are between 60 and 100 cm thick. Which method is chosen will ultimately depend on both the structural concept and the soil conditions prevailing on site. These loads are not inconsiderable. 20 LARGE-BORE PILE FOUNDATION PROCESS Bottom: VARIOUS STAGES IN THE DIAPHRAGM WALL PROCESS 21 Following page: DIAPHRAGM WALL ROTARY CUTTER .2. One is to produce round or rectangular caissons which are lowered to the required depth and bear the foundation structure. particularly if the neighbouring buildings are very close. Although the load-bearing capacity can be roughly calculated on the basis of soil characteristics. Rotating drills are mostly used today to minimize vibrations when installing the retaining wall. such as solid rock. Pile foundations are probably the most widely used method. The result is a continuous wall in the ground. these loads often exert different pressures on the subsoil. This method is used in particular when subsoil of high load-bearing capacity is only found at considerable depth. thus resulting in uneven settlement of the building. the maximum permissible pile load is determined by applying test loads to the finished piles with the aid of hydraulic presses and comparing the resultant settlement with the permissible settlement. Foundation pits can easily be produced to depths of 30 m or more using this method. Moreover. This can be done in several ways. however. as well as wind or earthquake loads. They are produced in sections with the aid of special equipment and a stabilizing bentonite slurry. The dead weight of a high-rise building can amount to several hundred thousand tonnes. Modern equipment can easily ram piles measuring up to 2 m in diameter to depths of well over 50 m. these buildings must be erected on subsoil of high load-bearing capacity.1 Foundations Although the foundations are out of sight once the building is completed. The effort entailed can be considerable. shallow foundations will frequently be disregarded in favour a system that transfers the load to deeper layers on account of the high bending moments to be absorbed from horizontal forces.Page 31 3 Technology of high-rise construction 3. Diaphragm walls and piles are also used to safeguard the foundation pit required for construction of the underground part of the building. Drilling piles in a whole variety of forms can be used when working with large pile diameters and very long piles.2 Execution 3. people or moving objects. they are of immense importance for ensuring that the dead weight and live loads of the building are safely transmitted to the native subsoil. The piles are then combined into appropriate pile groups in accordance with the loads to be transmitted by the building. This value may be exceeded several times over by the live loads which are taken as the basis for designing the building and include the loads from equipment and furnishings. The piles can either be prefabricated and then inserted in the native soil or they can be produced on site in the form of concrete drilling piles. Yet even if a strong native subsoil is found near the surface. In order to avoid such developments where possible.




As the buildings became taller and taller.2. such as the lift-slab process for concrete structures. however. which may be considered as an “open core“. It also permitted series construction up to great heights. They are suspended from the outrigger and are therefore under tension. the main problem was no longer the vertical loads but such horizontal loads as wind and earthquake forces. Supporting steel structures in the form of tubes are often used for extremely tall buildings. This led to the development of what was known as the core method. since the vertical dead weight was considerably lower than when using solid masonry and did not make it necessary to grade the sectional steel profiles in these areas. namely the columns. The layout of the building is subdivided into a number of tubes to relieve the columns in the corners of the building when subjected to horizontal loads. as well as engineering structures (bridges. It was only in the mid-1970s that concrete began to be more widely used in constructing skyscrapers. however. The result is an enclosed. In this case. One such development by SOM is the “outrigger truss”: a rigid superstructure known as the outrigger is mounted at the top of a reinforcing core with movably connected floors and columns. The columns merely transmit vertical loads.2. The production of such suspended structures gave rise to a number of innovations.1 Load-bearing parts The steel skeleton permitted hitherto inconceivable flexibility in construction and layout planning. namely the Home Insurance Building in Chicago (1885): mills and granaries. which was completed in 1932. A generously dimensioned development area was obtained on the ground floor by “collecting” the descending columns. Instead of requiring around 300 kg of steel per square metre of base area as in the past. the supporting structure is located in the outer facade.2. is one example which clearly shows the advantage of this new method. The load-bearing cores are first of all erected with the outrigger on top. as well as their transmission. Owings & Merrill (SOM) in Chicago. they are raised to their installation position by means of hydraulic jacks and then connected to the core (see Section 3. The bending stress applied to the core area in the lower floors is considerably reduced when using an outrigger truss. The tradition of steel skeleton structures predates the first high-rise building to have been erected by this method. The outrigger itself usually accommodates such technical floors as the heating and ventilation systems. The “truss tubes” perfected by Fazlar Khan (SOM) in the John Hancock Center in Chicago are another further development of the basic tube. Since the middle of the 20th century. is a further development of the conventional tube: it is a “bundled” tube. the complete separation of outside wall and supporting structure permitted absolute freedom of design for the facade. The latest developments in supporting structures for highrise buildings include composite structures of steel and concrete. modern supporting structures only require roughly 125 kg of steel on average. The cores and their surrounding walls normally accommodate vertical service installations. however. namely the short time required for the construction work. sanitation). such supporting structures are rarely found in taller buildings. this results in more uniform distribution of the load over the facade columns. These tubes are additionally reinforced by diagonal struts in the facade plane and are a structural feature that has almost become a hallmark of SOM buildings. the length of time required for concrete construction and the associated financing problems were the main reasons for the predominant use of steel structures in the construction of high-rise buildings. silos) had already been built in England with an iron framework towards the end of the 18th century. lighting. was erected with the aid of a slipform which was hydraulically raised one metre every day. thus eliminating the risk of buckling that is associated with pressure elements.Page 35 3 Technology of high-rise construction 3. Until then. intrinsically rigid tube without any unnecessary space-filling columns inside. one above the other (separated by a release spray). . normally in the form of a reinforced concrete or steel structure with reinforcing shear walls. A supporting system in the form of such an outrigger truss yields further advantages over a simple core construction when it comes to transmission of the horizontal loads. primary service shafts for electric power and HLS (heating. New developments in shuttering. The first frame structures used for the steel skeleton were flexurally rigid frames corresponding in height to one floor. which is consequently designed in the form of a load-bearing facade with small openings. New York’s Empire State Building. The octagonal concrete core of the Messeturm in Frankfurt. while the core transmits both vertical and horizontal loads. The World Trade Center in New York is an example of such a structure. Finally.2. However. The Fort Wisconsin Center built in Milwaukee in 1962 is one example of an outrigger truss structure. a number of improvements in the supporting structures for skyscrapers have been introduced by the architects Skidmore.2). for instance in the form of steel sections embedded in concrete. The individual floors with their secondary supporting structure. the Sears Tower in Chicago (443 m high). Moreover. for example. The outrigger connects the columns to the core. are suspended from a central core as the primary supporting element.2 Supporting structure 3. resulted in dramatically shorter construction times. stairs. the interior can no longer be designed with the same flexibility as when using a single tube. America’s tallest skyscraper. Its primary function is to reinforce the building in horizontal direction. A similar supporting effect is obtained with the aid of horizontal reinforcing elements in the form of shear walls. the individual floors are then concreted on the ground.2. such as elevators. In this case. The outer walls are studded with vertical steel columns roughly one metre apart.





3 Technology of high-rise construction Page 40 B Wind 29 VARYING LOAD DISTRIBUTION WITH TUBES AND BUNDLED TUBES .

Page 41 3 Technology of high-rise construction Top: 30 EXAMPLE OF THE ARRANGEMENT OF BUNDLED TUBES Right: 31 STEEL SKELETON .

PARIS This building. In addition to reducing the construction time required. A reinforced concrete version was chosen as the most economical solution. IN MUNICH .G. glazing. each king post comprising 105 threaded steel bars with a load-bearing capacity equal to a suspended weight of 4. The four king posts are secured to this central girder cross. differs from conventional buildings to create an impressive corporate symbol in the form of a 100-m-high four-cylinder structure. all the offices can be reached by the shortest possible route. They are complemented by horizontal members measuring roughly 70 m at ground and roof level. Completion of the facade. the loads being transmitted 30 m into the subsoil via twelve concrete pillars. Each of these members is 9 m high. installation and interior finishing proceeded on the suspended floors. the first floors were even produced complete with facade and glazing during construction of the supporting cross.000 Mp and is mounted on neoprene bearings. The requirements for appropriate office organization yielded a basic outline in the shape of a clover leaf. the required stability for that phase of the work was produced by means of horizontal steel truss reinforcements. The entire load of the building is transmitted to the foundations via the core as the central element.2 Special construction methods BMW HEADQUARTERS. which has already been mentioned in Section 2. takes the form of a giant cube open on two sides with edge lengths of 110 m. The cube’s main support is in the form of four prestressed upright reinforced concrete frames 21 m apart. elevators and sanitary areas are accommodated in the central core.2. it also absorbs all wind forces. The finished floors were then connected to the supporting cross via the king posts and raised one floor at a time every week with the aid of hoisting gear so that another floor could be produced in the space vacated at the foot of the core and then connected to the floor above (lift-slab method). It was completed at the end of 1989 on the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution and took 5 years to build (see photo on page 18). The building has a weight of more than 300. the entire building with 18 office floors and a technical floor was to be suspended from a girder cross at the top of the roughly 100-m-high core via four central king posts.3 Technology of high-rise construction Page 42 3.000 m2). this method also eliminated the need for expensive tooling and assembly work. Small outer columns are additionally located between the floors. This is a modification of the outrigger truss (Section 3. Top: VIEW FROM THE HEADQUARTERS BUILDING Bottom: 32 HEADQUARTERS OF BMW A.1). the equivalent of a 3-storey building. Time and costs were the decisive reasons for choosing this innovative construction method. According to the design concept.600 Mp. Since the two vertical sides of the cube would be without roof-level transverse bracing during construction. All 19 floors were successively produced at the foot of the shell and core. LA GRANDE ARCHE. In this way.G.2. A mighty girder cross with a projection of 16 m is mounted at the top of the core.2.2. These outer columns are designed as compression columns above the technical floor (12th floor) and as king posts below. Trendsetting methods were also used for the construction work. A total of 37 office floors are accommodated in the two 18-m-wide wings of the cube (each with an area of 42. unimpeded by the structural works and lifting operations. MUNICH The headquarters of BMW A. Stairways.



such technical equipment parts as radiators. thus greatly reducing the time required for this work. The frame profiles are assembled with labyrinthine indentations to compensate the deformation arising in the building as a result of wind and live loads. air outlets and the ducting for electrical and electronic equipment are also already integrated at this stage. These elements can usually be displaced in three planes to compensate the dimensional tolerances occurring in the shell. aluminium has largely become the material of choice for the outer framework. parapet lining. modern facades are highly impermeable to water and water vapour in order to prevent damage due to moisture. glazing. TECHNICAL PROPERTIES Modern facades must meet complex requirements as regards construction technology. In the meantime. The facade elements as such are fitted without the help of scaffolding. since the loads were now primarily transmitted by posts and columns. fixing elements can be mounted on the shell of the high-rise building.Page 45 3 Technology of high-rise construction 3. engineering design and construction physics. Almost any desired appearance can be produced. as well as structural aspects before subsequently being assembled. Even where soundproofing and fire protection are concerned. sunshades and anti-glare finish. shape and number of windows were no longer limited by structural requirements following the introduction of curtain facades. The scope for design is enlarged by coloured or mirrored window panels and linings of natural stone. protection against the sun is more important than heat loss today due to good thermal insulation of modern facades. as well as thermal insulation and sealing are all assembled into single-storey facade elements in the manufacturer’s plant. glass and Due to the extensive know-how required with regard to material properties and construction physics and on account of the great manufacturing depth. Here an additional facade of laminated glass is arranged in front of the conventional facade. modern facades are only produced by specialized companies based on the architect’s design and in accordance with functional. Non-supporting metal facades suspended in front of the building have increasingly become established for economic reasons. PLANNING Most facade designs today are still based on empirical know-how and are not tested until the design has been established in detail. Modern facades also require a sophisticated ventilation and cooling system.2. The panes are made of high-grade glass filled with noble gases or with a surface coating that reflects infrared light. In many cases. Individually controlled ventilation flaps are capable of providing a more natural and far less complex exchange of air. PRODUCTION AND ASSEMBLY Today’s modern facades are characterized by external wall elements equal to one floor in height and inserted between the respective structural floors. The size. DESIGN metal facades are at least the equal of conventional constructions. e. On the inside. More complex ventilation concepts for routing air into and out of the building may be realized by including additional vertical and horizontal bulkheads.2. 33 FACADE ASSEMBLY . Thanks to its lightness and almost unlimited possibilities for profile design. as well as temperature differences. ceramic tiles or brick.3 Facade The skeleton construction which has increasingly been used since the turn of the century has inevitably given rise to new possibilities for the facade. The tests are carried out on true-toscale models of individual facade elements in order to test adequate resistance to air and water. The frames. The degree of prefabrication in modern facades is considerable. Permanently elastic rubber profiles ensure that the facade remains impermeable to air and water. The air-conditioned or twin facade is a case in point.g. thus creating a space through which air can circulate. Despite the large areas of glass. with the aid of firmly anchored aircraft engines. particularly in high-rise construction. load-bearing capacity and the possibility of excessive deformation or glass breakage when subjected to corresponding loads.

the partition walls. in some cases. A heliport or parking space can also be set up on the flat roof of large high-rise buildings. it is becoming increasingly rare for such technical service connections to be installed in the external walls. Since particular importance is attached to flexible use of high-rise buildings. it would be better to install the partition walls between the load-bearing floors. Moreover. A vertical breakdown into fire compartments is mostly obtained with the aid of fire-resistant floor constructions (for further details see Section 4. fireresistant elements (fire walls) are usually only to be found in the core areas incorporating the elevators. Most roofs are flat. From the point of view of soundproofing and thermal insulation. as they do not permit as flexible use of the room as floor tanks. Air-intake towers for air-conditioning systems. High-rise buildings with a sloping roof are usually rounded off by an antenna system with appropriate lightning protection. Small-scale electrical installations are contained in trunking in the screed flooring. a distinction must basically be made between load-bearing or supporting elements which are required for structural reasons and those which merely partition off the rooms and installations. Atriums and convention halls are two pertinent examples. Connection of the flexible partition walls to both the suspended ceiling and the elevated false floor can pose problems. Overhead glazing is another type of roof commonly found in high-rise buildings. service and installation shafts. Load-bearing elements are almost exclusively made of concrete or steel today. Cables can then be routed as desired in the space below the floor. such as in computer centres. It is therefore advantageous to transfer such systems to lower floors. have become less common on modern highrise buildings. Particular attention must be paid to the question of fire protection in such false floor constructions. lighting and fire alarms are usually located between the load-bearing ceiling and a suspended false ceiling into which the lamps are normally integrated. ventilation. 3. low-level or cubic).2.2. Moreover. This consequently makes it necessary to use soundproofing and thermally insulating floor coverings. However. airconditioning and heating systems are now decentralized and spread over several individual floors. Due to the great height of buildings.3 Interior finishing Walls.2. since cables can be rerouted without difficulty. the equipment is connected to sockets in so-called floor tanks. Such roofs keep out the elements while at the same time creating spacious assembly areas. 34 CEILING INSTALLATION 35 DOUBLE FLOORING . usually in the centre of the building. as is increasingly required on account of the rapid pace of change in office and communications technology. The installations for air-conditioning. every installation and every superstructure on the roof means another opening in the intact roof skin and this can give rise to leakage problems. stairwells. there is also a rail around the perimeter of the building to accommodate the equipment required for cleaning the facade. When considering the interior finishing. It is sometimes even used in Japan for golfing practice. floor structures and (usually suspended) ceilings will be of corresponding design. on the other hand. the partition walls must also be fitted between the suspended ceiling and false floor. as well as ceiling materials.2.4). Facade elements into which technical components have already been incorporated by the manufacturer (see Section 3.3 Technology of high-rise construction Page 46 3. elevated false floors are installed if numerous connections are required.3) are conveniently linked to the remaining network by means of screw-in and plug-in connections. as well as of combinations of these materials. The electromechanical drive system for the elevators is usually installed on the roof. Due to the relatively small area available per floor. particularly on flat roofs. The roof design depends only on the architect’s draft and on the purposes and functions to be fulfilled by the roof. The choice of materials and structures depends on the intended use of the building rather than on its form (high-rise. However. the space below the floor can also be used for ventilation and air-conditioning installations.4 Roof There are no fixed rules governing the roofs of high-rise buildings. since the suspended ceilings and false floors normally extend over the entire area and are not confined to any single room on account of the technical installations. ceilings and floors in high-rise buildings are no different to those in other buildings. sanitary and ancillary rooms. False floors are to be found almost everywhere in modern office towers. particularly in computer centres. as well as the pertinent connections and facilities.2.


such as heating. The internal heat loads (e. The costs for electrical and electronic systems in the recently completed Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. The fittings on the lower floors must therefore be dimensioned for the maximum stagnation pressure (possibly with the aid of pressure reducers). . due above all to the larger ratio of window area to total exterior area. This makes for a major difference in costs. for instance. – The outside air flow must be guaranteed with a minimum fresh air flow of 30 to 60 m3/h per person. since faecal matter and effluent do not simply drop to the ground under the force of gravity. A number of alternative solutions are drawn up during the planning phase and compared in order to determine the most costefficient source of energy on the basis of the investment costs and expected annual costs for operation and maintenance of the equipment.000 visitors every day. These utilities must also be transported to the very last floor in sufficient quantities. Sanitary dispensing points must additionally be isolated from the building as such for soundproofing reasons. on intermediate floors and on the roof. currently the tallest building in the world. water and air and the effluent volume are incomparably larger. such as: – optimization of the overnight and weekend temperature reduction. under adequate pressure and at sometimes totally different temperatures.2. amount to more than US$ 90 per square metre – and that does not include any other services. A water column in a 300-m-tall building. In principle. but more or less wind their way downwards along the pipe walls. hot exhaust air. pumps. The essential difference between high-rise buildings and other buildings in terms of designing the components (particularly fittings. The twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. SANITATION The systems should be designed in such a way as to ensure flexible division of the areas (large rooms. exerts a stagnation pressure of 30 bar.000 employees and 80.2.4. The pressure load on the individual components is reduced through subdivision into several pressure stages with technical service centres in the basement or on the ground floor.3 Technology of high-rise construction Page 48 3. exhaust heat from refrigeration systems) accumulated in high-rise buildings are commonly used to heat water with the aid of heat pumps or heat recovery systems. the technical service components in high-rise buildings must meet special requirements – if only on account of the height – since the required supply of energy. for instance.g. is supplied by a two-channel high-pressure system in which the air is injected from above and discharged through corresponding exhaust air windows. independent two-channel high-pressure system additionally blows air into the rooms from the false floors. for instance. refrigeration and electricity. A second. the ratio is normally reversed completely in most high-rise buildings. ultra-modern control systems are primarily based on intelligent digital controllers. Studies undertaken in the USA have shown that the height does not have any effect on the flow rate and rate of fall. thus permitting the use of smaller pumps. This technology permits a direct link between DDC (direct digital control) substations and the centralized instrumentation and control which also takes over energy management functions. must be supplied with due regard to cost-efficiency and the minimum possible environmental impact due to emissions. VENTILATION AND AIR-CONDITIONING Unlike the case with the majority of normal multi-storey buildings in which the installed heating capacity is several times the required cooling capacity. SUPPLY OF HEAT AND COOLING Unlike the case with normal multi-storey buildings. all air-conditioning and ventilation systems must meet the same basic requirements: – The air in the room must be continuously renewed (a three to sixfold exchange of air is normally required per hour).4 Service systems 3. The concept used in the Messeturm in Frankfurt am Main is completely different: in this case the required air is supplied via what is known as a one-channel continuous-flow system in combination with a “fan-coil four-conductor system” in the outer facade. requires more than 25. CONTROL SYSTEMS Today’s complex. Pressure stages are also required for the sanitation. individual rooms) so that their use can subsequently be changed without extensive conversions.000 kWh of electricity every hour.1 Installations ENERGY AND WATER SUPPLY – It must be possible to shut off individual plant segments when the corresponding parts of the building are not in use. The planning effort required on the part of the service engineers responsible for the supply and disposal services in high-rise buildings is therefore very much greater than in the case of smaller and medium-sized projects. with around 50. The energy required for this purpose. gaskets) lies in the higher pressure stage. A variety of ventilation and air-conditioning systems can be installed. – linking the heating of service water with re-cooling of the refrigeration system. steam. – The risk of drafts must be minimized and any nuisance due to the transmission of sound eliminated. – operation of the external blinds. depending on the purpose for which the building is used. The high-rise headquarters of the Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt am Main.

If the equipment rooms are located alongside the elevator shaft. several hundred or a few thousand parking spaces may still be required for large high-rise buildings. This means that the cost of building 2. for which a separate shaft is (still) required for each elevator. The simple control technology was offset by a number of disadvantages: numerous elevators and elevator shafts were needed. vehicles Although most high-rise buildings are centrally located and within a convenient distance to public transport systems. the low speed (with frequent braking and restarting) meant that it took a long time for the elevator to reach its destination. above all. The numerous stops and. The groups must overlap on at least one floor so that people can transfer from the 17th to the 23rd floor. with the result that the elevators often have to transport well over 100.000 workers. the only difference being that the entire traffic is concentrated on a handful of access roads and adjacent traffic areas which must be able to handle this volume of traffic at peak periods. including the required ramps and traffic areas. around and from the building is equal to that of a small town.2 Deliveries. suppliers and visitors. such as direct connection to the underground railway. for example. but a malfunction in the elevator system. one parking space for more than five jobs – if the building is well supplied by public transport.000. 3. when the high-rise buildings had no more than about 20 floors. while a second group serves floors 10 to 20 from the entrance level. In changeover operation. “Local elevators” serve the floors between the “changeover floors“. The two operating systems commonly used today – namely group and changeover operation – only became possible with the development of powerful drive systems and controllers. if adequate public transport is not available. large and very fast express elevators serve a small number of central floors which are often also highlighted architecturally. which usually only serve to connect a few floors conveniently and without delays. for example. restaurants and meeting halls. It was soon found that elevators – like every mass transit system – needed a sophisticated operating concept.e. Depending on the nature. but also for delivery traffic to the building. similar ratios also apply to other business premises. For financial reasons. In New York’s Empire State Building. It is therefore not unfair to assert that the American inventor of our modern “safety elevator”. vertical development In addition to escalators and automatic walkways. although they must change elevators in the process. etc. the size of a high-rise building is often also dictated by the number of parking spaces required. Asked what they feared most in a high-rise building.Page 49 3 Technology of high-rise construction 3. The recently completed Petronas Towers in Malaysia. however. these elevators take no more than a minute to travel from the ground floor to the 80th floor. Elisha Graves Otis. thus counteracting the lower floor space frequently found on the top floors. every elevator led from the entrance level (not necessarily the ground floor) to every other floor in the building. In group operation. a number of local elevators can be operated one above the other in the same shaft. the next group then serves floors 20 to 30.000 people every day. as well as for refuse-collection vehicles. in this way. the respondents claimed that their greatest horror scenario was not a fire. guests and customers. as well as highly effective braking systems with multiple braking for safety reasons. is set to accommodate around 70.000 parking spaces can reach as much as DM 100m with complex engineering and location on several levels. was also one of the pioneers who paved the way in 1852 for high-rise construction. A fully occupied elevator plummeted when a B25 bomber crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945 (see Section 4. thus avoiding long delays. Such catastrophes may be exceedingly rare. The floor area has been increased by 25% as a result of these sophisticated systems. The volume of traffic is analysed by microprocessors.4. the manufacturing costs for one parking space can easily amount to around DM 50.3 Passenger transport. however. They are supplemented by visitors. The comparison made above between a high-rise building and a small town also applies with regard to the number of people inside the building: in the course of a few hours every morning. In the beginning. That. it may be necessary to provide one parking space for every job. Even in such cases.2). The advantage of this system is that the number of elevator shafts decreases towards the top of the building. Traffic links must be created not only for the parking spaces. The ratio may be more than 5:1 – i. passengers and goods are normally carried up and down by elevators in high-rise buildings. shops. for instance. location and execution of the garages and on the building’s structural system (nature of the subsoil). the elevators may serve groups of floors in exceptionally large high-rise buildings. The number of parking spaces required is usually stipulated in the construction regulations in relation to the number of jobs or useful office space. the number of shafts can be reduced while maintaining the transport capacity.4. a sufficient number of parking spaces must still be provided for employees. In extreme cases. Here too.2. High-rise buildings are commonly said to represent a “town under one roof“. but they cannot be excluded entirely. also means that the traffic to.8. . tens of thousands of people stream into a megabuilding to start work and leave again within a very short space of time at the end of the day. Up to three elevators are contained one above the other in each of 36 open shafts in New York’s World Trade Center. the elevators or groups of elevators only serve certain floors: one group of elevators serves the first ten floors.2.

Depending on the size of the high-rise building. Elevators should never be used to evacuate people following a catastrophe. as well as in highrise buildings with up to 20 floors. Elevators are often directed automatically to the ground floor following a fire alarm and remain there with their doors open.2. including desks. Mobile waste collecting bins are ready and waiting in the goods elevators in the World Trade Center in New York.4). 36 ELEVATOR IN THE WORLD TRADE CENTER. there are five filling hoppers which can comminute all manner of objects.4 Waste disposal In the days when waste was collected without preliminary sorting on site. Such waste chutes are not advisable in taller buildings – due to the associated greater height of fall – for paper or plastic bags tear open as they fall and considerable noise is generated by the waste as it falls and collides with the walls and bottom of the chute. So-called firemen’s lifts are additionally installed in high-rise buildings for use in the event of a fire (see Section 4. waste chutes were frequently installed in residential and administrative buildings. NEW YORK . Constant care and regular maintenance combined with stringent inspections by an independent test institution. compostable organic waste and residual household waste which is collected in large containers and then transferred via the goods elevator (or service elevator) to a central collecting point (in the basement) alongside the delivery area or to the underground parking deck.4. for instance. The waste is compressed to a fraction of its original volume in special containers at the central collecting point. Apart from the statics. 3. are an absolute must for the safe operation of high-rise buildings. recyclable secondary materials. The fire hazard is also enormous. there is no other structural part or equipment in a building subject to so many regulations and technical controls as the elevator – and with good reason. too.2. there must also be a sufficient number of elevator cabins large enough to accommodate stretchers. In addition. such as the Technical Inspection Agencies (TÜV) in Germany. It is therefore a statutory requirement in most countries that a warning be affixed to all elevators prohibiting use of the elevator in the event of a fire.3 Technology of high-rise construction Page 50 At least one goods elevator with high load-bearing capacity and therefore lower speed is usually required to transport goods and to serve the building. Standard practice today is to collect the waste separately on each floor: paper.

000 assumed employees in a high-rise building “produces” only 2 kg of waste per day. particularly in the case of high-rise buildings: a) Technical building management – Energy supply – Disposal – Equipment operation – System communication b) Commercial building management – Cost accounting – Property accounting – Rentals – Contract management c) Infrastructural building management – Cleaning services – Caretaker services – Security services – Secretarial and postal services A new market segment known as “facility management” has developed in recent years and caters to the needs of users in larger properties in particular. In addition. that makes a total of no less then 10 tonnes to be disposed of every day. Costs are continuously incurred during this time for maintenance and care of the building.1 Maintenance. He must decide whether to employ his own staff to deal with the problems (e. A sophisticated logistical system is consequently needed simply to dispose of the waste. kitchens and restaurants. It differs from classic building management in that it is not limited solely to the occupancy phase.Page 51 3 Technology of high-rise construction Too little attention is frequently paid to the problem of waste disposal when planning a building. administration) or whether to assign intrinsic functions to exter- nal service-providers (“outsourcing“). The following rough estimate illustrates just how much waste can accumulate in a high-rise building: if each of the 5. it is taken into service and occupied by the owner or tenants.3. security. maintenance. Both alternatives require an efficient building management capable of taking over the following responsibilities. 3. administration When the high-rise building is completed. 37 ELEVATOR DEMONSTRATION BY OTIS 38 MAINTENANCE . as well as special waste from service facilities and filling stations for motor vehicles.g. there is the waste from shops. but is already in action during the planning phase and therefore covers the entire life cycle of the building right up to its demolition.3 Occupancy 3. cleaning. these costs can have a significant effect on the financial result of the building’s operator.


special precautions must be taken and the work efficiently coordinated to ensure that the conversion proceeds without a hitch. the service systems are centrally located in the building. 3. the safety of the building and its residents or users must be assured completely and at all times during the rehabilitation work. rehabilitation and changes in occupancy. however. It is often sufficient to shut down only part of the building.e.3 Rehabilitation There are many reasons why a high-rise building should have to be rehabilitated. particular care must be taken to ensure that the additional loads can be absorbed by both the existing building and the existing foundation structure. it is essential to draw up a structural analysis for all building states during the conversion work in order to avoid damage. the technician on duty can immediately see which spare parts are required to remedy the fault. conversions. Where possible. as well as for permitting documentation of important information (e. New requirements are often imposed on the performance of technical equipment in a high-rise building in the course of its occupancy phase.3. this adjustment is handled by freely programmable DDC systems which record all the data of the connected technical equipment. must also be rehabilitated after a certain period of time. The only possibility for expansion in densely populated cities is normally upwards – i. The technical equipment in the building. the building’s supporting structure is totally isolated from the system of partition walls inside the building. cooling. In many cases. 3. Particularly high safety standards must be maintained in conjunction with asbestos abatement – i. by adding floors – if additional space is required at a later date.g.e. layout drawings. The latter is particularly important for internal planning changes. In such cases. . In office buildings. such as fans. manufacturing premises and high-rise buildings. Expensive call-outs on site can be reduced through remote programming by the maintenance company if faults arise or limit values change. As a rule. analyse these data and then optimize the corresponding process sequence. valves and external blinds. In this way.2 Conversions In the planning a high-rise building. such as in the core area. reinforcing walls are located outside the useful floor area. electric power and lighting. Unnecessary energy consumption is avoided. This can be achieved by a technically complex method using additional piles which must be produced with the aid of special drilling equipment in the underground parking levels on account of the low working height. Asbestos fibres are considered to be highly carcinogenic and are released in particular during demolition work. Internal conversions due to changes of use following a change of tenant or the changing needs of the present user should not be a problem. The recorded data are forwarded to either the centralized instrumentation and control in the building or via the public telephone network to an external control centre. as well as changing tenants require rapid adaptation of the heat. burners. general drawings of the building. Such buildings are normally demolished by blasting after months of preparation and a great deal of expert knowledge so that the explosive charges are positioned at precisely the right points to ensure that the building collapses like a stack of cards without a single piece of rubble leaving the site. It may even prove necessary to extend the foundations in such a case. sanitation or elevators. If other parts of the building remain in use during the conversion work. i. If the conversion nevertheless affects the load-bearing structure of the high-rise building.3. The partition walls separating the individual rooms are non-supporting and can be relocated to permit subsequent changes in room size. such renewal or modernization work is undertaken without shutting down the entire building. security information. Demolishing old skyscrapers in inner city areas is an exceedingly complicated business. pumps. when removing the asbestos installed as insulation or for fire-protection purposes and replacing it with physiologically safer materials. the operator of the building can also respond more effectively to changes in the property market. consumers are switched off when their offices are not in use and switched on again shortly before occupancy recommences. telephone connections). A column spacing of 6 to 7 m is widely used as a standard grid. To ensure such flexibility. Different times of day and seasons.e. such as heating. meeting both architectural and structural requirements. The criteria to be met here are basically the same as for conversions. If more complex maintenance work is required. and sometimes the work can even be carried out without interrupting operation of the building at all. The columns are consequently the only remaining load-bearing elements causing a “nuisance” in the useful area.Page 53 3 Technology of high-rise construction Cost-efficient optimization of all processes during the occupancy phase of a high-rise building requires an efficient and powerful computer system including CAD (computer-aided design) applications. care is normally taken to ensure that the building can subsequently be used in a relatively flexible manner. furniture inventories.

is already under construction in Shanghai. The Australian Embassy in Tokyo sold 500 m2 of its garden in return for DM 1.400 people per square kilometre in Tokyo and that the population in this conurbation is forecast to increase from 18.3 Technology of high-rise construction Page 54 3. A new recordbreaking edifice. In some regions.25m – per square metre! Such astronomical prices can be more easily understood if we consider that there are currently 5. gigantic projects involving heights of several kilometres are also under discussion. One of the most unusual is the Japanese project TRY 2004. and the attitudes of both owners and architects will also be of decisive importance. the need for high-rise buildings will continue to grow. the Chongqing Tower. and reservations as regards health and safety will result in a new kind of highrise building totally different from today’s. however. Since technological progress is advancing steadily. one would almost require the skills of a clairvoyant to predict with any accuracy the specific changes which are impending. It is to be made up of 204 octahedral elements which can be mutually sealed off from one another if a fire breaks out. and totally inconceivable.4 High-rise construction in the future In view of the anticipated population explosion and the concentration of dwellers in the conurbations. a pyramid rising 2004 m into the sky. especially with building land becoming increasingly scarce and property prices soaring as a consequence. The disproportionately large manufacturing effort. as one critic recently wrote – is highly uncertain in their traditional form. 41 PETRONAS TOWER . living space is to be created for one million people over an area of 8 km2. It is already certain that today’s (1999) world record for the tallest building – the twin Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (452 m) – will not be held for long. It does not take a prophet to forecast that the future of high-rise buildings – these “architectural dinosaurs”. Specific plans have already been drawn up for an 800-m-high building in Tokyo (Millennium Tower). Economic considerations could impose limits on these gigantic plans.5 million at present to almost 30 million in the coming decades. we shall at least venture a rough prediction of possible future developments. Nevertheless. the high operating costs due above all to the excessive consumption of energy. In this way. it will only be possible to settle new residents or businesses if they can be accommodated in high-rise buildings. for the costs for construction and operation of a high-rise building increase exponentially with its height.

3 Technology of high-rise construction

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3 Technology of high-rise construction




CHONGQING TOWER 457 m (under construction)

MILLENNIUM TOWER 800 m (planned)

800m (2624 feet) 43 THE MILLENNIUM TOWER – a vision for the 3rd millennium .


452 2 (1482 feet) .


CHICAGO 443m (1453 feet) .45 SEARS TOWER.


46 EMPIRE STATE BUILDING. NEW YORK 381m (1250 feet) .



(850 feet) .

As a result. High-rise buildings are positively ideal for generating power: the huge facades are usually exposed to the sun from dawn to dusk and the prevailing winds on the roof are considerably stronger and more persistent than those on the ground. adhesives and coatings. or by using variable-speed forced-circulation pumps in the sanitation. Reusing the off-heat from air and water will be a matter of greater importance in the future. When the building is complete. such as emission-free materials. Transparent thermal insulation will probably become established in future. Considerable savings can also be achieved inside the building. as it not only reduces the heat loss. Numerous studies have proved that energy savings of up to 80% can be realized in both the private and the commercial sector without any loss of comfort or convenience. while every effort will be made to ensure that as much of the facade as possible faces the sun in colder climates. the less probable it becomes that future generations will voluntarily accept this hazard. Northern European construction standards are a positive example here. those facing way from the sun as small as possible (the keyword is: passive solar architecture). Windows facing the sun should be as large as possible. or by using energy-efficient fluorescent tubes which require up to 80% less electricity than conventional filament lamps. Research and industry must therefore find acceptable alternatives. water can be circulated through heat exchanger tubes integrated into the pile reinforcements. installations. for instance by using a combined heat and power generating unit instead of conventional heat and power generation. as is consideration of the prevailing wind strengths and directions. as does solar glazing with almost 100% reflection of the radiated heat. Generation of heat via the deep-pile foundations associated with virtually every high-rise building is a less obvious possibility. “Intelligent energy consumption” is a term that is increasingly being used in this context. but can also attract additional heat by allowing the radiated heat to reach the facade without obstruction. CONSTRUCTION BIOLOGY The more we know and learn about the harmful effects of modern materials and installations on health. One of the first projects of this type has already been realized in the rebuilding of the Commerzbank headquarters in Frankfurt am Main. or by controlling the lights via movement detectors and naturally by ensuring the energy efficiency of every single appliance used in flats or offices. the different energy potential between footing and building can be exploited and the subsoil used as a seasonal or temporary store of energy. Due to the feed and return flow of the water. as well as avoiding the use of chemicals which give off toxic gases in the event of a fire. collectors to heat air or water and photovoltaic systems to generate electricity on the facades and possibly also for producing hydrogen at a later stage. And these are also the main sources of energy to be used in the future: wind-operated plants to generate electricity on the roof or particularly exposed edges of the facade. Particular attention must be paid to thermal insulation of the facade. our future energy requirements should all be met by regenerative sources. Ideally. Thermopane glazing with a k-value of less than 1 already represents the state of the art today. heating and air-conditioning sectors. the foundations for a building’s future consumption of energy are already set in the planning stage: the topographical surroundings are of importance here. as they specify a thickness of several decimetres for the insulating layers. 48 ADDITIONAL HEAT RECOVERY VIA PILING FOUNDATIONS IN THE COMMERZBANK HIGH-RISE BUILDING .3 Technology of high-rise construction Page 68 ENERGY SAVINGS POWER GENERATION Consistent use of the savings potential already available today will indisputably be the most important “source” of energy in the future. from well insulated fridges to personal computers with low power consumption. and any shadows cast. A rotary building is another conceivable possibility and could be turned towards or away from the sun as required. insulating and isolating materials. An energy-efficient building will be positioned with its “broadside” away from the sun in warmer climates.


in addition to the energy savings already mentioned above. buildings erected in this way bear little resemblance to the conventional edifices erected with prefabricated parts: the precision and arithmetic accuracy of these machines permits a hitherto inconceivable variety of forms and even the most complex structural analyses are mastered with the help of computers. it is already possible to erect buildings with the help of assembly robots. Thanks to the efficiency of the computers and robots. as well as from detailed libraries.3 Technology of high-rise construction Page 70 CONSTRUCTION PRACTICE The construction of high-rise buildings will be dominated by four factors in future. something that was considered Utopian only a few years ago has already begun to become an everyday reality: huge edifices and even complete towns are erected by robots as if guided by a ghostly hand. however – or perhaps for precisely this reason – highly qualified experts will be needed to develop. Assembly robots pick out the right part in the right sequence. techniques and technologies. As examples in Japan show. In spite of this. 49 FULLY AUTOMATED BUILDING SITE . The computer automatically retrieves all the required (dimensional and design) data from the saved architectural and engineering drafts. personnel savings and financial savings. namely: time savings. the dangerous and physically strenuous work would be eliminated. If the engineers who developed and built these robot-controlled “construction machines” are to be believed. In this way. The parts are then manufactured by fully automatic machines on the basis of these production data (CAM = computer-aided manufacture) and transported to the site “just in time“. Above all. operate and control the necessary computer programs. then this method can not only considerably cut the time required for construction work. transport it to the assembly point and install the finished element in the right place. but can also reduce the construction costs by up to 40% and reduce the workforce required for conventional construction projects by up to one-third (roughly onehalf of these would then find work in the component manufacturing plants). The required elements are designed and drawn with the aid of computers (CAD = computer-aided design).








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4 Risk potential

4.1 Design errors 4.2 Fire

4.3 Windstorm 4.5 Foundations, settlement 4.7 Special structural measures 4.9 Loss of profit 4.4 Earthquakes 4.6 Water 4.8 Other risks

but even complete stairwells in multi-storey buildings. Even such seemingly less important aspects as compliance with accident prevention regulations are reviewed. In many cases. they will only be discovered (if at all) during final inspection of the building by the construction supervisory authority as specified in many countries. The commentaries will be illustrated by examples of losses and rounded off by proposals which need to be implemented to minimize such risk potential and prevent losses. This leads to time-consuming and costly changes and corrections. personal accident. the complex legal relationship between principal and architect makes it necessary for the courts to decide who is to bear the costs incurred as a result of such errors. shell and core. but also pose an acute risk to life and limb for its users. And today’s construction practice makes such design errors more probable than ever: since the supporting structure. for instance when a fire occurs. however. If errors are made by the designer at this stage in violation of building and planning codes. They are said to have forgotten not only the toilets. FAILURE TO OBSERVE BUILDING AND PLANNING CODES It may be assumed that. the design is changed at short notice during the construction phase. however.Page 85 4 Risk potential The following sections consider all of the hazards constituting the greatest risk potential during the construction and occupancy of a high-rise building. with the result that the plans submitted for inspection no longer reflect the actual situation.1 Design errors Fortunately. and interior finishing are totally isolated from one another not only during the design phase. If the errors are not discovered and the building is taken into service. location and execution of stairwells and traffic areas. The inspection and approval procedure not only encompasses aspects under the building code. in the majority of countries. but also the safety of the people inside the building. Despite the numerous statutory instruments and court rulings in test cases. and this forces both sides to accept compromises possibly at the expense of the building’s safety. when a building exceeds a certain size – and this will certainly apply to high-rise buildings – corresponding plans must be submitted to the construction licensing and supervisory authorities for inspection. such as compliance with specified distances and the specified height and size of a building or its type of use. but also during the subsequent construction phase. Such changes frequently cannot be undone. this may not only increase the probability of a loss occurring. usually at the expense of the professional indemnity insurance prescribed for architects in many countries. 4 Risk potential Such aspects include compliance with fire protection requirements in the building. In most cases. and errors in the choice of materials and wrong or inadequate construction details on the other. the position and number of escape routes and the number. . 4. Particularly grave defects only become evident when the loss actually occurs. The most commonly occurring design errors can be subdivided into two groups: failure to observe building and planning codes on the one hand. both the architect’s legal protection insurer and his professional indemnity insurer will be involved. for instance as regards the height of railings or the distance between bars in railings and grids. errors may possibly not be discovered until the work has reached a fairly advanced stage. Fire insurers. no-one really knows just how many rumoured design errors by architects are actually true.

3 and 3.100 °C. The fire also destroyed material which was stored on the first and second floors.2 Fire Fire is one of the greatest risks for every building and particularly for high-rise buildings. occupational disability insurers and once again the liability insurers may all be called upon to bear the costs once the courts have settled the question of blame. Due to the extremely confined conditions. In extremely simplified terms. we now have a skeleton structure – usually made of steel – with endless kilometres of wiring for telecommunications. Although the architect or specialist engineer specifies which materials are to be used or installed.1 Examples of losses during the construction phase GENERAL This new 12-storey office tower is one of fourteen buildings erected over the railway tracks of a station in the City of London. for instance.4 Risk potential Page 86 health and life insurers. fumes and water.2. As already mentioned in Sections 3. just as complicated is that between architect and (sub)contractors and particularly among the (sub)contractors themselves. it could be said that most of the damage incurred in or on a building is ultimately attributable to design errors. the construction of modern office towers has little in common with the construction methods employed in the past. During the evening of 22nd June 1990. as well as for the harmful effects of heat. Twenty fire-fighting teams with over 100 firemen fought for almost five hours to bring this difficult fire under control. all insurers – and particularly fire insurers – are well advised to ascertain whether all of the safety requirements have been met before they conclude a policy for buildings entailing high risk potential. switching.2. Undiscovered for several hours. A few examples of major fires during the construction and occupancy phases are provided below. If a guilty party can be identified. A large area in the middle part of the roughly 40-m-high building subsequently dropped by between 0. can rapidly result in water damage due to burst pipes. neither the fire-alarm system nor the risers and sprinkler system had been activated in this stage of the building’s construction. Instead of solid ceilings and walls. 4. When the fire brigade arrived another seven minutes later. the widespread propagation of fumes due to the chimney effect of the atrium and the presence of numerous openings in walls and ceilings. control and air-conditioning running vertically and horizontally through the entire structure. Modern and unconventional construction practices frequently make it difficult or even impossible for (sub)contractors to determine whether the specified materials or the execution intended by the designer are indeed suitable and correct. It is only when the loss occurs that the insurer A fire broke out during the interior finishing work in this over 55-m-high office tower in London’s banking and insurance centre in August 1991.6 and 1. For this reason. this smouldering fire charred the interior furnishings until it reached the polystyrene foam inside the steel walls of the container. MATERIALS AND CONSTRUCTION DETAILS can be sure of having underwritten a completely new risk. this combination consequently poses an enormous risk for the spread of fire and smoke. The fire was only discovered by a security patrol roughly 30 minutes later after a smoke detector was tripped. Unsuitable insulating materials can give off toxic gases or acids in the event of a fire. an electrical appliance or short-circuit caused a smouldering fire in one of these containers. BROADGATE Not only the legal relationship between principal and architect is exceedingly complex. major fires have always made – and will continue to make – headline news not only during the construction phase. new materials or combinations of different materials. LONDON UNDERWRITING CENTRE It is not always easy for an insurer to determine which risks may be associated with technical improvements. The considerable property damage worth around £36m was the highest fire loss to have been incurred in a highrise building in the United Kingdom up to that time and was due to the absence of an early-warning system.4. but above all during the occupancy phase. 4. It is irrelevant in this context whether this party was actually aware of these shortcomings or merely must have been aware of them. new techniques. The extreme heat ultimately caused the steel skeleton and a number of ceilings to fail.2. Moreover. incorrectly dimensioned fixtures for suspended ceilings or facade elements can cause bodily injury or property damage if they fall down. Unsuitable materials and connections in sanitary installations. which in turn caused extensive damage to the aluminium facade and valuable interior fittings. that party can face considerable penalties for any shortcomings ascertained. The cost of repairing the damage consumed £110m or around 75% of the insured value of the building and was far higher than the cost of repairing the damage following the Broadgate fire in the previous year. the (sub)contractor must check whether these materials are indeed suitable for such use. the temperature around the container was apparently already in excess of 1. This resulted in major generation of smoke until the container literally burst apart around midnight and caused a major fire.2 m. This led to even more intense smoke emission. First estimates indicated that the loss would . as well as the loss of human life. They are a major headache to all insurers and reinsurers due in particular to the exorbitant rise in repair and restoration costs. the containers accommodating the construction workers were installed on the first floor of the shell. During both the construction and the operating phases. Due to the spectacular photographs and film sequences shown in the media.

LONDON: sunken roof support beams Following page: 58 FIRE-PROTECTION INFORMATION .57 FIRE IN THE BROADGATE BUILDING.


These materials are easily combustible on account of their packaging. will respond over the years to the extreme heat and corrosive fumes produced by the fire. these systems had not been activated during the construction phase. the higher fire load and its distribution over all floors are therefore the main reasons for catastrophic major fires. at least from the outside. such fires also raise questions with regard to warranties. on the other hand. 40 fire brigades with over 2. In the department store. The water pressure from their nozzles only reached up to the 10th floor. The growing use of combustible materials. which is usually not removed beforehand and therefore constitutes an increased fire risk. MERIDIEN PRESIDENT TOWER smoke. Despite the extensive damage. particularly during the construction work. Despite the intense smoke. Their work was impeded from the very beginning by the narrow access roads.000 m2 was seriously damaged by the fire. around 3. In addition. had been met.e. safety features are the first to be sacrificed under the rising pressure of time and costs. as well as the false floors. The total loss is estimated to be in the region of DM 25m. the flames had already reached the roof and were reaching out towards the unsealed floors leading off to the sides. to all floors above and below ground and had settled on most of the installations and facade elements. as well as another 50 from lower floors with the aid of ladders and straps. The fire broke out on the ground floor at the beginning of the morning shift. suffered very little damage. the hotel – which is located on the 17th to 36th floors of the building – was opened without undue delay. Compliance with the regulations and requirements This 36-storey hotel and shopping centre in Bangkok was almost complete and about to be inaugurated when a fire broke out following an explosion during installation of parts of the air-conditioning. 4. an atrium in the building can have extremely negative effects in the event of a fire. which are frequently located in the shell of the building. but the supporting structures remained unscathed. When the fire broke out. In addition.Page 89 4 Risk potential be no more than a fraction of the final cost. and merely had to be cleaned. Completion of the store is expected to be delayed by several months. Suppliers may have guaranteed the serviceability and appearance of their parts and installations over a period of several years. The fire very rapidly spread through the air-conditioning shafts and soon reached the 10th floor. vertical draft) due to the atrium helps the fire to spread rapidly to the roof and other floors leading off from the atrium. but no-one can judge how the frequently complex switchgear. fire brigades. more than 150 construction workers were adding the finishing touches to the inside of the building.000 m2 out of more than 130. seven helicopters succeeded in rescuing the men on the roof. Since the workers on the upper floors were unable to make their way downwards. Subsequent investigations revealed that although all the fire-prevention requirements. The atrium itself was difficult to reach since it was completely encased in scaffolding for installation of 16 large escalators. near the atrium where it was extensively nourished by the considerable material and packaging scrap which had been stored there.000 firemen fought for roughly six hours to bring the fire under control. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that. firemen’s lifts and sprinkler systems. Three men died in the fire or as a result of jumping out of a window. the chimney effect (i.2 Fire protection on construction sites Numerous similar major fires in the recent past have clearly shown that too little attention is still being paid to fire prevention on construction sites for buildings in general and for high-rise buildings in particular. even if the risk potential is acknowledged.2. for example workers carelessly throwing away glowing cigarette ends and the improper use of cooking appliances in the workers’ quarters. Moreover. This trend has become unacceptable in the United Kingdom. This has led to devastating fires and immense costs for the insurance industry. fire walls. These fumes (including chloride-laden fumes from burning PVC cable installations) had spread through openings in walls and ceilings. It was only when the roof above the atrium broke and the smoke was dispelled that the firemen were able to make progress in bringing the fire under control. insurance companies and the construction industry have drawn up a “Joint Code of Practice” for fire protection on construction sites. it proved extremely difficult to bring the fire under control. The stairwells were almost impassable on account of the immense heat and smoke. as well as lower floors. the commonly used PVC sheathing also produces highly corrosive substances. It is assumed that the fire was most probably caused by a bucket of thinners igniting on contact with sparks from welding work being done on parts of the air-conditioning system. Altogether. Thanks to the atrium. One of the helicopters was even forced to make an emergency landing after its tail rotor touched the building in the dense . for example. as its considerable area positively invites misuse as a place for storing large quantities of material. The considerable increases in the cost of repairing the building during the ensuing months were due almost exclusively to the extreme spread of harmful fumes. as the fires in the Broadgate Building (1990) and the London Underwriting Centre (1991) clearly showed. In addition to requiring extensive decontamination. such as smoke detectors. The supporting structure. Although the fire brigade arrived within minutes despite the early morning rush-hour and narrow streets. These fires are more likely to be caused by human negligence than by technical defects. Further damage was caused by contaminated fire-fighting water in the false floors and basement floors. and to the man on the street the building appeared to have survived largely unscathed. roughly 40 fled onto the roof while others used ropes to lower themselves onto a veranda on the 5th floor so that they could escape from the flames. In an unrivalled campaign.






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USA Once the tallest building in California. The 12th to 16th floors were gutted. but this did not apply to the Garley Building. As a result. money and material. among other things. Particularly in the case of high-rise construction. The Hong Kong Fire Prevention Act stipulates that all highrise buildings licensed after 1973 must be equipped with a sprinkler system.2. From the speed at which the fire spread through the elevator shaft to the upper office floors. fire compartments. The fire made its way up through the elevator shafts and spread like lightning through the top three floors of the building. as well as for fire protection. they are often responsible for personal and occupational safety. gas depots. in such cases. This Code specifies in detail how fire protection is to be effectively organized and implemented in all the various areas and phases of construction. Although hundreds of firemen were at the scene of the fire. Above all. A whole team of safety officers may be appointed for a high-rise construction site. such as fire walls or sufficient distance. it represented one of the biggest challenges for the Los Angeles City Fire Department. 62-storey office tower fell prey to what is considered to have been one of the most destructive skyscraper fires in the USA in recent years when. the 261-m-high. At least one person trained in fire-fighting techniques and equipped with a fire extinguisher must always be present during such work. From the fire-fighting point of view. the material spread over several storage units and protected by special measures. With 383 firemen. During welding work in an elevator shaft in the 16-storey Garley Building in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district on 21st November 1996. the headline in one Hong Kong newspaper – “700 office buildings could become death traps” – is not so far-fetched.Page 99 4 Risk potential contained in this Code has now become an indispensable element in the terms of insurance for the construction of major high-rise projects. There was neither an automatic fire alarm nor a sprinkler system. What were the reasons for the fire being able to spread so rapidly. it took over 20 hours to bring the fire under control. water supply lines and fire loads in particularly high concentrations. Specific control of all work constituting a fire hazard is another essential precaution. In addition to drawing up. Such risks as combustible liquids. for the magnitude of the loss and the numerous fatalities? The primary cause lay in the totally inadequate fire-protection installations in the 21-year-old Garley Building. so that many of the people in the building were fortunately saved. a fire broke out which killed 39 people and seriously injured around 80 others. particular attention must be paid to preventive fire protection. almost one-half of the entire shift on duty in the city was called out to fight this fire. the site drawings must be regularly updated with regard to access roads for the fire brigade. however. Maintenance and repair work was in progress in the office and business tower when highly flammable material caught fire during welding work in the basement. some of them in daring scenes in which a helicopter pilot risked his own life. “Trapped in a burning skyscraper”. implementing and verifying the fire-protection concept. 4. The value of material stored for construction and assembly work should be limited. “Towering inferno” – these are just a few of the headlines in world press reports on one of the most devastating fires in Hong Kong in almost 40 years. It is claimed that plywood had been used as provisional elevator doors. for example. it may be assumed that the structural fire protection was also inadequate. preventive fire protection must be included from the planning phase onwards so that the various construction phases can be taken into account accordingly. for reasons unknown. the area must be inspected again to ensure that a fire cannot break out subsequently (e. a fire broke out on the 12th floor on the evening of 4th May 1988. Even when the work is complete. The site should be fenced off and access controlled in order to minimize the risk of fires due to third parties.3 Examples of losses during the occupancy phase GARLEY BUILDING IN HONG KONG “Elevator to hell”. it is important to train the site personnel in fire-fighting techniques and to familiarize the fire brigade with the site. In view of the large number of older buildings in a similar condition to that of the Garley Building. FIRST INTERSTATE BANK BUILDING IN LOS ANGELES.g. The immense heat and smoke made these floors a death trap for the people working there: the windows could not be opened to let the heat and smoke out. in order to reduce what is frequently a very high fire load. application of hot asphalt or other work with radiant heat. 22 charred bodies were subsequently found in a single office on the 15th floor. Since the situation on site is subject to constant change in line with the progress made during the various construction phases. and escape routes were filled with smoke or impassable on account of the fire. More than 90 people were rescued. One of the essential conditions for effective fire protection is the appointment of a safety officer responsible for risk management on site. Waste materials must be removed regularly and combustible waste collected from the individual floors every day. The fire brigade was called shortly after the fire broke out and arrived on the scene shortly afterwards. as well as work with soldering lamps. The primary objective must be to reduce the fire load. The floors above suffered 63 COMBUSTIBLE WASTE INCREASES RISK OF FIRE . A special approval procedure is being introduced to ensure safer practices with grinding. as a result of glowing welding slag). Adequate protection against fires can only be guaranteed by clear instructions and standards which are implemented from the very beginning of the construction work and which are regularly monitored and supported with corresponding investments in time. The fire was brought under control after 31/2 hours. cutting or welding work. cable ducts and temporary openings in walls and ceilings must be highlighted in the same way as the available fire-fighting equipment.





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considerable damage due to smoke and those below were extensively damaged by fire-fighting water. One maintenance technician died when he took the elevator to the floor in which the fire had broken out because an open fire door had evidently jammed between the burning office area and the lobby in front of the elevator. Around 50 people were injured, including several firemen. The loss totalled more than US$ 50m, plus losses amounting to tens of millions for business interruption. The building had been completed in 1973 before the sprinkler regulation for high-rise buildings in Los Angeles came into force. This regulation stipulates that sprinklers must be installed throughout the building. At the time of the fire, work was under way to install a sprinkler system in the rest of the building to ensure better fire protection for the roughly 4,000 employees and tenants in the building and to supplement the sprinkler system which was originally only installed on the lower level of the underground car park. Work on the new sprinkler system was already 90% completed at the time of the fire, even in the floors affected by it, but the system had not yet been taken into service. Parts of the riser had also been drained and fire pumps switched off in the building. The fire brigade was alerted by a neighbour, as there was a delay before the alarm warned security personnel despite the fact that the automatic fire-detection system was functioning correctly; this delay was due to human error and incorrect regulations. As a result, the security personnel disregarded a fire alarm triggered manually by the installation workers in response to minor smoke emissions, as well as other alarms by smoke detectors on the 12th floor. By the time the fire brigade arrived, most of the 12th floor was already in flames. Since use of the elevators was prohibited by regulations, the firemen had to carry their heavy equipment up the stairs to the scene of the fire. As a result, roughly half an hour passed before they were actually able to start fighting the fire with water from the risers in the four stairwells. Fighting the fire proved to be a difficult matter. Once again, the excessively low water pressure had to be boosted with the aid of fire pumps and additional water supplied via the risers. Since the fire doors leading to the stairs had been opened, smoke and fumes soon spread upwards. In the meantime, the fire had spread to floors above the 12th floor with flames up to 10 m high leaping from broken windows on the outer facade. Fire and smoke also penetrated through incompletely sealed cable openings and air-conditioning ducts, as well as through the 31 elevator shafts. In addition to the intense heat and smoke in the stairwells, the firemen’s work was further impeded by failure of the power supply and of the emergency lighting in the stairwells. The vital radio link was similarly impeded by the shielding effect of the building’s steel skeleton and the large number of firemen on the scene. Helicopters were called in to drop firemen onto the roof of the building to allow them to head down towards the seat of the fire via the stairwells. However, this attempt had to

be abandoned on account of the major smoke in the stairwells with their chimney effect. Broken glass panes on the facade posed another problem as they fell down onto firemen and fire engines feeding water into the fire connections at the foot of the building. Cut hoses had to be replaced more than once. The glass panes also came down in large units, as they were bonded together by the reflecting plastic coating; even the coating was burning in some cases. As a precautionary measure, the newly installed sprinkler groups on floors 17 to 19 above the burning floors were also activated so that they would have provided effective assistance had the fire spread above the 16th floor, but this proved unnecessary. The defects and negative factors will be discussed in more detail in the next section. The positive factors in this difficult fight against a fire are summarized here: – Concentrated and well organized deployment of firemen. – Resistant supporting steel framework thanks to the fireresistant spray-coating. – Sophisticated emergency plans by the bank made it possible to continue bank operation without a hitch in an emergency centre on the morning following the fire and throughout the months of cleaning and repair work in the building. – As a result of this fire, a regulation was issued specifying that sprinkler systems had to be retrofitted in all 450 high-rise buildings without such sprinkler protection in Los Angeles within a transition period of three years.

On the evening of 23rd February 1991, a fire broke out on the 21st floor of this office tower with 38 floors above ground and three underground floors. Three firemen were killed in action and 24 others injured. There were only a few people in the building when an automatic fire-detection system on the 21st floor triggered an alarm on the central control panel on the ground floor at 20.23 hours. The fire brigade was called by neighbours before an alarm could be sent from there to the fire brigade. The first firemen arrived on the scene after seven minutes and took the elevator up to the 10th floor. From there, they took the stairs up to the burning floor. Since the power supply, including the emergency power supply, failed in the entire building shortly afterwards, the firemen had to carry all their equipment up the stairs, thus considerably delaying the commencement of their fire-fighting efforts. Licensed in 1969 and completed in 1972, the building was only equipped with sprinklers in a few areas of the underground floors. In 1988, the building’s owner decided successively to install sprinklers throughout the whole building. Only a few floors from the 29th upwards had been equipped with sprinklers when the fire broke out. Originally dry risers had been converted into wet risers to supply the sprinklers during the installation work. Two sprinkler pumps were similarly installed, as were pressurereducing valves on the connections for the wall hydrants installed on all floors. Following the fire, it was found that

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these valves had been wrongly set so that the water pressure from the wall hydrants was too low. This also explains why the firemen’s efforts proved unsuccessful – the fire on the 21st floor had turned into a conflagration in the meantime. Due to the excessively low water pressure, both the volume of fire-fighting water and the range were inadequate. After four hours, the sprinkler installer succeeded in adjusting the pressure-reducing valves with the aid of special tools so that the required water supply could be guaranteed. In the meantime, the fire had spread to three other floors and the stairwells were filled with smoke. The fire spread particularly along the outer facade. Three firemen died as they tried to clear the smoke in one of the stairwells by smashing windows. After roughly 11 hours fighting the fire, the firemen had to retreat from the burning floors because the ceilings threatened to collapse. It was therefore decided to fight the fire via the sprinkler system already installed on the 29th floor. The required water pressure was to be obtained by feeding water into the risers. Ten sprinkler heads were activated by the heat of the fire and it was finally brought under control around 15.00 hours on 24th February. Altogether 19 hours were needed to put the fire out completely. It is assumed that the fire was caused by spontaneous ignition of oil-soaked rags. In addition to total destruction of the entire furnishings on the floors affected by the fire, the building’s structure and outer facade also suffered considerable damage. The owner of the building demanded over US$ 250m indemnification from the insurers for the repair costs and other losses. In his view, the steel structure of the upper floors from the 19th floor upwards had been so severely damaged by the heat that the only alternative was to demolish and subsequently rebuild the tower. An expert appointed by the courts, however, agreed with the insurers that the building could be repaired without demolishing it. After protracted negotiations, the claim was settled six years after the fire. The building had neither been repaired nor was it partly occupied at that time. Barely a year later it was demolished, probably on account of the significant deterioration in its condition and on account of its contamination with asbestos and PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls). The robust roof and facade construction considerably impeded the demolition work. The building’s location in the city centre and adjacent buildings, as well as underground rapid-transit railways under the building, prohibited the use of explosives. The demolition costs were estimated at US$ 25m over a period of two years.


These fire catastrophes have once again shown that the threat posed by fires in high-rise buildings still exists. Although in some cases exceedingly more stringent regulations and fire-protection requirements were introduced for high-rise buildings in many countries throughout the world in the 1960s and 70s after a series of devastating fires in various countries with in some cases numerous fatalities (Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Korea and others), there are still a large number of older high-rise buildings which do not come under the more stringent regulations or at least not fully – as the fire in Hong Kong proves – since separate statutory rules and regulations are required to retrofit structural changes and fire-protection equipment in existing buildings. The following list of negative features can be drawn up on the basis of these fires during the occupancy phase, more or less representative of numerous similar occurrences in high-rise buildings: – absence of fire compartments on large open-floor areas; – vertical spread of fire and smoke through stairwells and air-conditioning ducts not sealed by fire dampers (chimney effect); – lack of sealing on cable ducts in stairwell walls; – inadequate evacuation of people due to smoke-filled stairwells; – impeded access to the actual seat of the fire; – absence of a suitably protected firemen’s lift with separate power supply in high-rise buildings with more than 30 floors; – threat of ceilings collapsing on account of inadequate resistance to fire; – failure of the emergency power supply since it was not isolated from the shaft of the main power supply; – no continuous, automatic fire-detection system to give early warning of a fire, to signal a fire and to permit rapid location of the fire; – inadequate instruction and training of security personnel regarding the action to be taken in the event of an alarm and fire; – lack of standardized procedures between the alarm regulations and the guidelines published by the fire brigade; – inadequate supply of fire-fighting water due to excessively low pressure in the risers, often on account of a partly closed shutoff valve or incorrectly set pressurereducing valves; – external attempts to boost the water pressure thwarted by inappropriate marking of the fire connections; – no automatic fire-fighting systems, such as sprinklers; – failure of the sprinkler systems installed to function properly.



The alternative possibility of parts projecting from the facade is similarly not always effective. it was sometimes found that the fire had spread over the entire floor and also over several floors inside the building. Internal stairwells may only be reached via lobbies sealed by smoke-tight self-closing and at least fireretardant doors. . both in a positive and negative sense. – Partition walls must be made of non-combustible materials and must also be fire resistant for certain uses. The same applies to fighting the fire.4 Fire-protection regulations. automatically activated ventilation system connected to an emergency power supply. the standards and regulations in force in the majority of countries include special provisions for high-rise buildings. Stairwells are areas of particular importance. Composite structures of concrete and steel or fire-resistant coatings or fire-proof panelling must be used instead. but it certainly does with regard to the spread of fire. loss prevention The facts and shortcomings outlined in the preceding section have significantly increased the magnitude of the fire losses described.2. A high-rise building does not constitute any extra risk with regard to occurrence of the fire. Fire compartments with vertical and horizontal structural seals must be created to prevent fire spreading in this way: – The ceilings must be fire resistant and made of noncombustible materials. height and shape of the building. Besides. for instance. these requirements are laid out in the 1978 “directives”.2. The examples described in the preceding section clearly show. – Doorways should at least be sealed with tightly closing. FIRE-RESISTANT MATERIALS To ensure the stability of a high-rise building in the event of a fire. The characteristic “fire resistant” must be defined in the applicable standards. The same holds true for the inspection procedures specified for verification. with corresponding requirements to be met in respect of fire prevention and protection. – Partition walls in corridors should reach right up to the structural ceiling. including the rescue routes. In both cases. For this reason. smoke and fumes. the supporting structure and ceilings must be resistant to fire. unprotected steel cannot be used on account of its inadequate resistance to fire. fire-retardant doors. So that the building itself cannot contribute towards the spread of fire. This is due to the vertical nature of the building. only non-combustible materials may be used for the supporting elements. and it is therefore perfectly appropriate to use fireresistant glazing. FIRE COMPARTMENTS As already mentioned. Stairwells must have fire-resistant walls of non-combustible materials. since they must usually permit safe evacuation of the building in the event of a fire. which greatly promotes the spread of fire in the main propagation direction. 4. how important it is to meet these requirements. depending on the standards applied. 4. this means that the requirements to be met by fire-resistant parts can easily differ from one country to the next. It has been found in such cases that the flashover distance of at least 1 m between two floors as required by the directives is frequently too short. any other openings required in the walls must be sealed in an equivalent manner. The firemen must concentrate on tackling the fire from inside the building and must make their way to the scene of the fire with their equipment through stairwells filled with smoke and heat. In Germany. Compared with buildings below the limit for a high-rise building – regardless of definition – a high-rise building will always have significant disadvantages when it comes to rescuing people and fighting fires.2 Structural fire protection The German directives specify a fire-resistance period of 90 minutes for the supporting structure in high-rise buildings and 120 minutes for buildings with a height of more than 60 m.2. If a fire breaks out. Their number depends on the area. normally or barely flammable materials are only permitted if structural measures ensure that they cannot contribute towards a fire. People cannot be rescued from outside the building if they are trapped on floors out of range of the fire ladders. efforts are being made to limit the fire risk with the aid of corresponding fire-protection regulations and loss-prevention measures. However. STAIRWELLS Most of these directives relate to the requirements for structural fire protection. excess pressure must be generated in the stairwells to prevent the ingress of smoke. fire can also spread via the outer facade if windows have been shattered by the heat. Several stairwells are normally required. compliance with all the provisions of the Construction Codes in force in each federal state is compulsory.Page 107 4 Risk potential 4. Smoke vents must be installed at the top of all stairwells. internal stairwells must be equipped with a mechanical.1 Regulations Due to these difficulties. non-combustible materials are largely stipulated for the structural parts and elements. namely from the bottom upwards. Since high-rise buildings are largely constructed with steel skeletons. since outside intervention is impossible.4. Combustible. they can only be located and rescued via the stairwells. In this way. In the cases described above. they take account of the higher risk potential.4.

FIRE DETECTORS To prevent fire and smoke spreading vertically inside a building. Every firemen’s lift must be located in a separate fireresistant elevator shaft. Firemen’s lifts must be installed so that the firemen can arrive at the scene of a fire without delay. More stringent requirements must be imposed on the stairwells in taller buildings (safety stairwells). Waste-disposal chutes must be protected in the same way. Manual detectors – e. lobbies. Automatic fire-detection systems should be installed in addition to the existing sprinkler systems. The associated equipment rooms must likewise be of fire-resistant design and sealed by fireresistant elements. – fire-resistant sealings of openings. In many cases. – emergency lighting for rescue routes. The required electrical switchgear and supply lines must be physically separated from other systems and lines. According to the German directives governing high-rise construction. Cable ducts should be sealed with fireresistant elements on every floor. safety locks and elevator lobbies must be equipped with ventilation systems which are isolated from other systems. push-button fire detectors – must be installed in addition to automatic detectors so that fires can also be signalled by the people present. the continuous installation shafts for ventilation. these lifts are additionally equipped with rescue materials and radio equipment. This central control panel should preferably be located on the ground floor or in a permanently manned security centre. the safety locks outside the stairwells must be equipped with mechanical ventilation systems.4. this is already specified by public authorities in certain standards and directives. fire dampers must be installed in the fresh air and exhaust air ducts on each floor. Automatically activated smoke and heat vents must be installed here too. as well as in the lobbies to stairwells. 70 ATRIUM IN A BANK BUILDING . As a rule. they automatically switch on to supply electric power to all safety equipment: – fire-detection and gas-alert systems. Elevator shafts must also be enclosed by fire-resistant walls.2. following a power failure in the public grid. These power supplies operate independently of the public grid. In larger high-rise buildings. it is therefore essential to install an area-wide automatic fire-detection system which triggers a fire alert on the building’s central control panel. Stairwells. access to the elevators must be restricted to the corridors or enclosed lobbies. The equipment providing the standby power supply must be isolated from the general power supply and protected by fire-resistant materials. since the latter’s fire-detection sensors are only tripped much later – by the heat of a fire – and trigger an alarm when the sprinkler nozzles open. The time lost in fighting a fire due to the absence of such firemen’s lifts has already been shown by the cases described above. In particular. telecommunications. The installation of automatic fire or smoke detectors is problematical due to the presence of ventilation and airconditioning systems in high-rise buildings and the associated air streams. they must also be fully familiar with these rules so that human error can largely be excluded. The cases outlined above clearly show how difficult it is to meet this requirement. Automatic or manual signalling of an alarm to the local fire brigade – preferably via a direct line – depends on the conditions prevailing on site. Elevators should be connected to the standby power supply so that they can automatically be lowered to the ground floor following a power failure or fire alarm. sanitation and document conveyors must be of the same fire-resistant design as the stairwells. The security and maintenance personnel must have clear and precise rules of conduct. – ventilation systems. these fire dampers must be activated automatically by smoke detectors as well as manually. several floors are normally combined into one area for the ventilation and air-conditioning systems.g. a firemen’s lift is required for all buildings over 30 m high.3 Active loss-prevention measures STANDBY POWER SUPPLY Ventilation and air-conditioning systems must be installed in such a way that fire or smoke cannot be transmitted to stairwells and other floors or fire compartments. as well as smoke and heat vents. To prevent fire and smoke being transmitted via the ventilation ducts. A mechanical ventilation system must also be provided.4 Risk potential Page 108 VENTILATION AND AIR-CONDITIONING SYSTEMS 4. SHAFTS AND ELEVATORS Standby or emergency power supplies must be installed in high-rise buildings from a specified height onwards. – firemen’s lifts and passenger elevators. The type of smoke or heat detector to be used must be determined according to suitability in each individual instance. detection of the smoke at a very early stage in the fire could be used to activate the fire dampers and then to switch off the airconditioning. Additional firemen’s lifts may be specified for buildings over 100 m high. – electroacoustic alarm systems and/or paging systems. Openings must be sealed with fire-resistant doors or flaps. – fire pumps and their control systems. With such apparatus. electric power. Appropriate specialist companies are consequently considering the use of highly sensitive smoke detectors (HSSD) and very early smoke detection apparatus (VESDA). It is also important to ensure that the firemen’s lifts are connected to the standby power supply specified for the building or that they can be operated via permanently charged batteries. The importance of rapid and reliable detection and reporting of fires has already been highlighted in the preceding section. Lobbies with fire-resistant walls and at least fire-retardant doors must be provided at the stopping points for the firemen’s lifts. These detectors should preferably be located in a prominent position in the corridors and rescue routes.


teams should be present on every floor made up of the people who work and live there. In some cases. Whether the water for fire fighting can be taken from the public mains or from separate water reservoirs or tanks must be decided in each individual instance in accordance with local conditions and regulations.2. OTHER FIRE-FIGHTING EQUIPMENT Other automatic fire-fighting equipment may be appropriate for certain systems in a high-rise building. The hoses must be sufficiently long to direct fire-fighting water to every point on that floor.4 Risk potential Page 110 4. However. to supply the sprinkler groups above or below – deep tanks and pressurized tanks on the roof. the installation of sprinkler systems is in many countries prescribed by law for highrise buildings from a certain height onwards – as from 60 m in Germany. All the components used for installation must comply with the relevant standards. it must not only be correctly installed and set. preferably also indicating to the central control panel where the seat of the fire is located. SPRINKLERS An automatic sprinkler system is the most effective protective measure for fighting and controlling a fire in a highrise building. they must then be instructed on what to do if a fire breaks out and also be familiarized with the use of these hand-operated fire extinguishers. Depending on the type of supply selected. – they must trigger an alarm in the building. as well as intermediate tanks in the middle of the building. An adequately dimensioned water line and adequate water pressure must be ensured when planning and designing the building. In the case of “One Meridian Plaza”. the fire was subsequently brought under control with the aid of the sprinkler system and an additional supply of fire-fighting water. Automatic sprinkler systems throughout the building are important since they must fight a fire as early as possible and must either extinguish the fire directly or keep it under control until the fire brigade arrives to finish off the job. electrical switchgear and control rooms. In very high buildings. such as transformers. For a sprinkler system to operate smoothly. it may be necessary to install pressure-reducing valves on the individual floors.4 Fire fighting FIRE EXTINGUISHERS Hand-operated fire extinguishers must be installed at clearly marked and generally accessible points in high-rise buildings in order to fight incipient fires.4. hot fumes and smoke. The various directives and standards permit a variety of solutions with regard to the water supply: – water supply from the public mains – possibly via an intermediate tank on the ground – via booster pumps on the ground to supply several groups of floors with different pressure levels – intermediate tanks on various upper floors. for instance if it leaps from a floor with no sprinklers to one with sprinklers. Sprinkler systems must be installed in accordance with the applicable directives or standards. a sprinkler system will normally be unable to control a fire in full flame. Based on past experience. Sprinkler systems are simply not dimensioned to cope with such developments. FOC and VdS. for example. Sprinkler systems must meet the following requirements: – they must rapidly control a fire in the fire compartment in which it breaks out. These extinguishers are intended for use by the building’s residents. computer centres and telephone switchboards. CEA. but also dry risers into which the fire brigade can feed water at the required pressure from the ground floor. As already mentioned in connection with fire-detection systems. So that the firemen can start to fight the fire as soon as they arrive on the scene. The ability of the system to indicate to the central control panel where the seat of the fire is located presupposes that a separate sprinkler system with an alarm valve is assigned to each floor and to each fire compartment. In the cases outlined above. For greater safety. it may be useful to install not only wet risers. as well as extinguishing systems based on inert gases. there were either no sprinklers at all or no activated sprinklers on the burning floors. but also be regularly inspected and serviced by specialist personnel. – they must limit the emission and spread of flames. . the installation of an automatic fire-detection system in addition to the sprinkler system is advisable so that fires can be discovered and signalled more quickly. to supply the sprinklers below with static or high pressure Tanks on upper floors can be replenished via low-capacity pumps. – the alert must be forwarded to the fire brigade or other auxiliary forces. However. booster systems must be installed in the wet risers to increase the water pressure. FIRE-FIGHTING WATER The cases outlined above have shown how important it is to have an effective supply of fire-fighting water when combatting a fire in a high-rise building. CO2 or – if still permitted by law – halon fire extinguishers are two possibilities worth mentioning here. under either normal pressure or excess pressure. wet risers must be installed in every stairwell or in their vicinity and a wall hydrant with hose line connected to these risers on every floor. the statutory regulations even stipulate that sprinklers have to be installed retroactively in high-rise buildings erected before the regulations came into force. the best known of which include NFPA. Depending on the systems concerned. Care must be taken to ensure that the complete building is protected by such sprinklers.

for example. an additional mechanical means of discharging the smoke must also be installed. reinforced by recurrent staff fire and safety training at regular intervals.6 Atriums The situation described in Section 4. the more irregularly the wind forces will be distributed. in critical cases. The risk of parts being blown away and flying around is greatest during the construction phase. have an immensely important effect on the active wind and flow conditions. has a base area of roughly 4. The building’s surround- ings.2. A purely structural consideration of the wind will not suffice in the case of larger building structures. include the conditions prevailing locally which must be taken into account when designing a high-rise building. The supporting elements must also be at least fire-retardant to prevent the top of the atrium crashing down onto the inner area.5 Organizational measures As already mentioned.200 m2. Instead.4. No fewer than 5. they must lead away from the atrium. It is also known as the Marilyn Monroe effect in construction aerodynamics. respectively.3 Windstorm Each of the two twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center. and harbour potential for bodily injury which cannot be neglected. by installing fire-resistant glazing. for example. Frequently. such elements as light-metal facades. Such parts can cause considerable property damage to their surroundings. they must be regularly inspected and serviced. which cause the rain to move upwards instead of down as a result of different inner and outer pressures. An area of 50. this yields a total static load of roughly 4. Separation effects can cause suction and compressive forces several times greater than the original dynamic pressure. Atriums in particular have a magnetic effect and a concentration of visitors and customers is consequently to be found in these areas. It is also important to ensure that the maintenance and security personnel know what procedures to adopt in the event of an alarm or fire. So that all fire-protection facilities are fully functional when required. That is roughly equal to a square base measuring 65 m ҂ 65 m. Wind is a phenomenon which varies strongly in strength and direction and can produce dynamic effects in combination with vortices separating off from the buildings around which . In addition to the roof. The effect of wind separating off the edges of neighbouring buildings.000 m2 had be reglazed. One such effect is known as the “spinning effect”. emergency and alarm plans must be drawn up in consultation with the relevant authorities and auxiliary forces. Care must also be taken to ensure that smoke is adequately discharged in the event of a fire. parts of the roof may be lifted off and catapulted away unhindered. The catastrophic consequences due to taking the wrong action have already been outlined in Section 4. Suction forces cause major problems around the roof in particular. In addition. Facades and roofs are also exposed to driving rain and hail. several hundred glass elements worked themselves loose from the outer facade of the John Hancock Tower in Boston and crashed down onto the pavement. The shape of the corners and edges of the building is particularly important. If the roof structure has not been adequately anchored.2. When wind meets an obstacle. This is particularly difficult on account of the large volume and resultant dilution and mixing of the smoke. Using the highly simplified wind load permitted by German standards.Page 111 4 Risk potential 4. however. This can be achieved. In bygone days. 4. however. The towers are 417 m and 415 m high. A number of special requirements must be met in order to ensure personal protection. air streaming around the building produces suction forces on the sides parallel to the wind direction. for example. a tornado-like effect near ground level which affects pedestrians. Basically. antennas. promotional signs and water tanks are some of the parts most seriously threatened by wind on high-rise buildings.2. discharging the smoke via a smoke and heat vent will suffice. This consequently means that the stairwells should be located along the outside walls to keep them clear of smoke and to permit more effective illumination in the event of a power failure.4. Local wind effects have repeatedly been observed in the canyons formed by skyscrapers in large cities.4. it normally generates compressive forces on the windward side of the building and suction forces on the leeward side. 4. “Updraughts”.2 with regard to atriums also poses an additional risk for people during the building’s occupancy as a hotel or department store. reduced wind velocities due to obstacles at ground level and effects similar to friction or deflection of the wind loads due to neighbouring buildings cannot be taken into account in the standard loads. During the autumn gales in 1972. The required rescue routes must not be directly linked to the atrium.2. towards the outside walls of the building. it may be said that the more sharp-edged and irregular the building is. the strong upwinds encountered on the Flatiron Building in New York used to cause not a few ladies considerable problems as they strolled past. Flashover from one floor to the next must be prevented in the atrium area.500 tonnes per tower from dynamic pressure and wind suction. These values do not. which will be discussed in more detail in the following sections. The magnitude of these edge and corner forces depends primarily on the geometry of the building round which the air flows. The location of the building – on open ground or surrounded by other highrise buildings – has a massive influence on the wind profile. can cause moisture to penetrate inside the building. The test and maintenance intervals applicable to the different facilities and systems must be scrupulously observed. especially the local fire brigade. The shape of the building is another factor influencing the wind forces actually at work. for example.000 panes had to be replaced for this reason on the UN Secretariat Building in New York in 1952.

71 DYNAMIC-PRESSURE APPROACHES: effects from friction impact wind speed Wind load W (kN/m) Height h (m) Horizontal load H = W x H Bending moment M = W x h2 2 72 TYPHOON TRACKS FOR JAPAN AND CALIFORNIA .

Wind Core to stiffen the building Foundation Ground-bearing pressure from vertical load Ground-bearing pressure from wind Total (Ground-bearing pressure from vertical load and wind) 73 REPRESENTATION OF WIND IMPACT ON A BUILDING’S GROUND-BEARING PRESSURE .

such as towers. A loss of more than DM 5m was incurred during construction of a 90-storey high-rise building in the Far East. So far. while the bending moment increases quadratically in proportion to the building height. or only inadequately. Particularly in the case of slim buildings capable of vibration. less spectacular problems to be solved by the planners. is normally still far away from threatening the stability of the building. this has given rise to a separate engineering discipline – model analysis – to solve the structural and dynamic problems of a building on the basis of miniaturized models. In the 1970s. resulting in a loss of roughly US$ 75m in lost rent. with the result that the outer skin of “airtight” buildings literally bursts – and that applies particularly to the windows. In the subsoil. Complex mathematical problems are frequently encountered when drawing up models and it has taken a long time for model-making to become a precise science. A large mass is moved by hydraulic computer-controlled equipment or pendulum constructions in the direction opposite to the actual direction of vibration by the building. while Chicago is exposed to tornadoes – then it becomes clear that the planning engineers must also consider this problem. it would have fallen onto its narrow side. can cause a sudden pressure drop of up to 10% of the atmospheric pressure within only a few seconds. Compared with the simplified wind load assumed in accordance with German standards. Passive dampers include baffle plates. Chicago) or the “truss tube” (e.2. for instance. The high wind speeds associated with typhoons. Shortly after completion of the John Hancock Tower in Boston in the early seventies. thus producing the resonant effects already mentioned in Section 3. There are also other. Owings & Merrill (SOM). World Trade Center. vibrations will be perceived by the building’s users. to reduce vortex formation.g.4 Risk potential Page 114 the air flows. are located in the track of typhoons and even New York can suffer a hurricane. In the case of a uniformly applied area load. Chicago). for instance. A damping system comprising a 600-tonne counterweight which can be moved around as required in accordance with the wind direction had to be installed on the 58th floor. particularly if the contractor is given sufficient advance warning of an impending windstorm. Over the years.3. the horizontal load acting inside the building will represent a linear function over the height of the building. John Hancock Center. have been produced as a result of the problem that conventional supporting structures are no longer in a position to transmit the wind loads safely (see Section 3. such equipment items as facade elements or temporary structures are usually not taken into account. As already mentioned in Section 3. such as the “tube” (e. rather like a book falling onto its spine. but delivery bottlenecks led to . It can be extremely complicated to take wind loads into account in calculations. the “bundled tube” (e.1. The vibration energy of the wind is absorbed in this way.1.g. Although the stability of the building during the various construction phases is documented by corresponding structural analyses. hurricanes and tornadoes are not the only problem: a tornado. New York). Damping systems are always based on a similar principle. this would lead to an actual assumed wind load of around 10.g. smokestacks and skyscrapers. The amplitudes and horizontal acceleration forces are reduced considerably. More and more sophisticated solutions must be found for these loads to be controlled by the supporting structure of a skyscraper. Such dynamic effects can be counteracted by changing the rigidity of the building or by installing active or passive damper systems. These vibrations can become unpleasant or even intolerable when they reach a certain limit which. The main problem for the planning engineers are not the horizontal loads but the much more complicated question of transmitting the bending moment due to these loads.000 to 13. In response to these fluctuations in the wind. These vibrations are particularly critical when the wind excites the building to vibrate at its resonant frequency. Subcontractors had temporarily stored such electrical installation material as control cabinets and relays on the upper floors of the building shell. movable weights or rotating unbalanced flywheels. Additional precautions must therefore be taken during the construction work. The widespread belief that it is sufficient to divide all the parameters of the original by the same factor in order to obtain an adequate model is unfortunately not correct. that many of the metropolitan centres with skylines dotted with skyscrapers are located in areas exposed to severe windstorms – Hong Kong and Tokyo. PRECAUTIONS DURING CONSTRUCTION The loss potential during construction is an aspect which cannot be neglected. the building begins to vibrate and can continue to do so until the vibrations reach an amplitude threatening the building with collapse. we have only considered “normal windstorm loads“. for instance. Active systems can be made up of water tanks. This means that the bending moment increases much more strongly than the horizontal load with every additional metre in height. even computer simulations cannot always provide a satisfactory answer to the problem. the bending moments caused by wind must be absorbed by soil pressures which can lead to considerable pressure on the leeward side of the foundations. it was found that gales caused enormous vibrations in the tip of the tower. for example. this resulted in one of the greatest “building losses” anywhere in the world: due to wind vibration.3. Depending on their frequency and amplitude.000 tonnes for New York’s World Trade Center if we were to take into account all the effects mentioned in this section. almost all the tenants moved out of a high-rise building as if in panic. It was discovered that the building could have toppled over at any time. for example. To everyone’s surprise. however. and it is therefore almost standard practice today to test the response of a high-rise building in the wind tunnel first. Sears Tower. however.1). Supporting structures of the type developed in particular by the architects Skidmore. thus also largely eliminating the effect of dynamic forces.2. however. If we consider. this can lead to stresses which must not be neglected.

The most important and most serious effects are outlined below. vibrations can also be damped by using heavy moving counterweights. These dynamic loads are replaced by structural equivalent loads in horizontal and vertical direction when a structural analysis of the building is performed. In simplified form. The building may subsequently remain at a slant or both the building and the surrounding terrain may subside. This means that an earthquake measuring 7 on the Richter scale dissipates 32 times the energy of a size-6 quake. HOW DO SEISMIC LOADS ACT ON A BUILDING? Natural rock is the best subsoil from the point of view of its earthquake properties. Another version was employed for the Court of Appeals in San Francisco: the building was retroactively more or less mounted on ball bearings which are intended to gently damp down the impact of a future earthquake. The energy dissipated by these earthquakes is expressed in horizontal and vertical acceleration forces acting on the skyscrapers. The main reason for this increase lay in the fact that Mexico City is built on the soft sediment of a dried-up lake. The period of a 15-storey building consequently equals roughly 1. The resonant frequency and consequently also the resonance effects can be influenced with the aid of damping systems. this means that the planning engineers would additionally have to apply roughly 2. experts still doubt the adequacy of these assumed loads under certain conditions.4 Earthquakes The Richter scale is a logarithmic scale for determining the energy dissipated in an earthquake. in the Uniform Building Code (Division III. Moreover. This leads to the conclusion that as the height of the building increases. Assumed loads of up to 0.7 times the acceleration due to gravity in vertical direction. The widely-feared liquefaction effects (plasticization of the soil) can occur if an earthquake coincides with high groundwater levels.000 times as much energy. it is important to ensure that the damping system is correctly attuned to the applied frequency spectrum and to the resonant frequency of the building. The potential earthquake damage suffered by high-rise Deep foundations generally display better seismic resistance than shallow foundations. The values assumed in the majority of standards correspond to between 5% and 10% of the acceleration due to gravity. Such values are fortunately exceptional. buildings varies. “Soft” skeleton structures have a period of fundamental natural oscillations equal to roughly one-tenth of the number of floors in seconds. these loads can be represented by horizontal and vertical equivalent loads acting on the mass centre of gravity of the building. Since the damage was foreseeable and precautionary measures were not taken.Page 115 4 Risk potential a delay in assembly of the facade elements on these floors. A considerable proportion of the electrical material stored on these floors was soaked by Typhoon Herb as it passed over in 1996 and consequently exposed to the risk of corrosion. they only act on the supporting structure very briefly and are subject to rapid changes of direction. These are described in more detail in Section 4. The epicentre of the earthquake was located near the Pacific coast. Resonance action can be avoided in this way. the insurer was only obliged to indemnify part of the loss under the policy. since they may be better able to attenuate resonance action. The highest acceleration forces measured to date in an earthquake were recorded during the Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles (17th January 1994) and amounted to 2. In simplified terms. The damage depends more on the rate of motion and magnitude of the displacement than on the acceleration. When using these methods. but then rose strongly (up to 3 points on the modified Mercalli scale) in Mexico City. “Base isolation” is an anti-seismic construction technique that uses the principle of attenuation to reduce vibrations. In spite of this.7 times the dead weight in vertical direction to the building when dimensioning the supporting structure so that these earthquake forces can safely be absorbed.5 seconds. together with the possible protective measures. The building is isolated from the solid subsoil by damping elements arranged on a foundation ring or foundation plate. earthquakes can also give rise to resonant vibration.3 times the dead weight in horizontal direction and roughly 1. at Lázaro Cárdenas.3 times the acceleration due to gravity “g” (g = 9. As in the case of wind loads. In addition to the isolation systems for foundations mentioned above. The immense forces transmitted from underground must be absorbed by the supporting structures of the buildings. Sandy soils saturated with water and artificially backfilled land are considered to be particularly critical. The intensity of the earthquake decreased rapidly as the distance from the epicentre increased.81 m/s2) in horizontal direction and 1. for example.4 g are required in extreme cases and US standards already include more recent earthquake zones in which even higher values must be assumed in certain frequency ranges. The risk of subsidence is considerably greater with floating foundations than with deep foundations. SUBSOIL 4. some 350 km from the epicentre.3. Higher edifices . Floating foundations can prove advantageous on soft ground. The requirements to be met by all the various anti-seismic bearings are set out. however. a subsoil that massively reinforces the effect of the incoming seismic waves through resonant vibration. the mass centre of gravity normally wanders upwards and the flexural effect on the building is intensified by the longer lever arm. FOUNDATIONS The horizontal and vertical acceleration of the subsoil due to an earthquake causes the building to vibrate. The importance of the subsoil was revealed in particular by the earthquake in Mexico in 1985. while one measuring 8 dissipates roughly 1. 1991). The magnitude of these equivalent loads depends directly on the mass of the building.

74 IMPACT OF EARTHQUAKE LOADS ON THE CENTRE OF GRAVITY HIGH-RISE BUILDING Static equivalent system V = ay x g H = aH x g Mass centre of gravity Horizontal (aH) + Vertical (aV) acceleration H = horizontal equivalent load which acts on the mass centre of gravity V = vertical equivalent load which acts on the mass centre of gravity h = building’s own weight 75 50 T AND/OR 90 T HEAVY DAMPERS TO BE INSTALLED IN TWO JAPANESE HIGH-RISE BUILDINGS TO REDUCE RESONANCE VIBRATIONS CAUSED BY EARTHQUAKES .


Resonance effects can also cause buildings to oscillate so strongly that they hammer against one another. The ductility and load-bearing capacity of reinforced concrete frames. then the various structures in the building can be subjected to considerable torsional stresses by the seismic loads. Short-wave oscillation components in earthquakes are rapidly damped. Comprehensive studies were undertaken to determine the causes and lay down rehabilitation measures. In some cases. This excitation period lies between 20 and 30 seconds. and peak loads occur both here and on the reinforcing elements (bonds) which must be taken into account when producing these connections. poor training from the engineers to the workers. as the buildings abruptly moved back from their maximum deflection. consequently represent a particularly high risk. Due to the stiffness and lack of ductility in the supporting structure.4 Risk potential Page 118 require a certain time before they oscillate at maximum amplitude. is often found in high-rise buildings with atriums. according to C. Moreover. SYMMETRY Tall buildings are more susceptible to damage from strong remote earthquakes than from weak earthquakes close at hand. the rigidity of the building is specifically varied by securing the bonds to the members of the frame structure by means of a variable connection which is essentially made up of hydraulic cylinders controlled via valves. When overstressed. One of the main problems that is repeatedly found in conjunction with earthquake damage lies in the quality of the work. for example. SHAPE OF THE BUILDING A distinction can generally be made between rigid and elastic supporting systems. rigidity and mass distribution lead to a considerably better seismic response than asymmetric layouts. The incoming seismic vibrations are detected by sensors which transmit the information to a central computer. for example. Rigid systems. liars and charlatans predict earthquakes”. An operating power of 20 W is sufficient for this purpose. This strong earthquake also showed that steel supporting structures do not immediately come crashing down when overstressed and that plastic supporting reserves are activated first. With this system. The computer determines the required rigidity and opens the valves at the individual points to increase the building’s flexibility in these areas. particularly in the form of surface waves. This means. SUPPORTING STRUCTURE Symmetric layouts. application of the standards is not mandatory in many countries and their supervision not sufficiently stringent. These “soft” floors then collapse in an earthquake. cracks were found in the welds in the corners of the frames. such as solid wall and ceiling elements. however. however. such as that in Mexico City in 1985 (around 3 minutes). Extremely high acceleration forces and consequently high horizontal forces were involved here and resulted in damage to the upper floors. This is because asymmetric buildings are subjected to stronger torsion (twisting) around the vertical axis by horizontal seismic loads. The problem is that more and more energy must be absorbed through the high rigidity and that more and more material is required for this purpose. are highly deformable and absorb the applied seismic energy in this way. atriums or glazed shopping passages. Many countries do not have their own earthquake standards and simply adopt the corresponding regulations from others. however. In an unexpectedly large part of the flexurally rigid steel frame structures. Elastic supporting structures. however. can be improved by increasing the percentage of reinforcement. When parts of different height are permanently connected to one another as. A number of systems based on the principle of flexibility and energy absorption are currently being developed to protect buildings against seismic activity. but the Northridge earthquake in January 1994 brought new insights. . rigidity and mass distribution. such as reinforced concrete or steel frames. are difficult to deform and transmit the seismic loads through their rigidity. some floors – usually near the ground floor – are distinctly “softer” than those above them. However. They normally have a lower resonant frequency and a lower attenuation than low buildings. Buildings of different heights can also be subjected to a whole series of effects in an earthquake. A further source of loss potential relates to the standards applied. Enduring earthquakes. F. shear cracks can develop in the building. The nodes connecting the horizontal and vertical elements of the supporting structure are highly stressed. Richter. such as the Uniform Building Codes from the USA. Poor-quality materials. the man who gave his name to the Richter scale. while the long-wave components (frequency f < 1 Hz) can still make themselves felt at a distance of several hundred kilometres. A so-called whiplash effect was observed in the high-rise buildings in Mexico City. but the question remains whether these methods can ever be properly applied in practice. that common local seismic effects are not covered. Skyscrapers with steel frames were hitherto considered to be particularly resistant to earthquakes. including such superstructures as tanks and antennas. This ensures that the vibrations are optimally damped and overstressing is avoided. corruption and the pressure of time must be mentioned in this context. “Only fools. New and potentially promising methods are being developed in the meantime. such as the jackscrew effect observed in Mexico City in 1985: higher buildings were literally jammed in between lower buildings. Another effect observed in high-rise buildings is the soft-storey effect: due to lobbies. HEIGHT OF THE BUILDING The system of active variable stiffness (AVS) is one such system. thus extensively damaging the floors at the clamping point. the buildings simply buckled over at the edge of the lower adjacent buildings. the concrete will usually fail at the risk of a total collapse. integrated non-supporting partition walls may suffer excessive stresses and break out on account of the major deformation of the frame structure.

such as a catastrophic loss estimated at up to US$ 3bn in the metropolitan district of Tokyo.5 Foundations. Load tests should really be performed on such foundation structures before starting the high-rise construction work. JAPAN . When producing the trenches for the diaphragm walls.Page 119 4 Risk potential Such predictions are naturally of subsidiary importance where physical losses are concerned. Instead. making it impossible to lower them to the required depth. Foundation structures up to 100 m deep and known as “barrettes”.000 fatalities are assumed for the aforementioned scenario – such precise earthquake forecasts would be of inestimable value. mishaps occur all the time. thus jeopardizing the stability of the trench or hole or even causing it to collapse. for instance by means of subsequent injection. Malaysia. The long cages of reinforcing steel can become wedged against the wall of the deep trench or drill hole. which we have already mentioned above. Although such complex foundation work can only be undertaken by highly specialized and experienced civil engineering contractors. each comprising four diaphragm wall elements. for instance. 4.2. Where personal protection is concerned – and up to 600. were required to transmit the loads safely into natural foundation soil under the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. or when drilling holes. The integrity of the respective pile and diaphragm walls can be continuously monitored with the aid of such special methods as ultrasound. It is not uncommon for the freshly positioned reinforcing cage to be pulled upwards a short distance when the casing string 77 EARTHQUAKE IN KOBE.1) when erecting a high-rise building and above all if it is to be built on poor or damaged subsoil. but they are economically unacceptable and technically almost impossible on account of the high vertical loads to be applied. particularly at great depth.1 Foundations Particular attention must be paid to additional foundation measures (see Section 3. opened fissures or existing but undetected channels result in loss of the bentonite supporting slurry. special pipelines are integrated into the foundation structures to permit a certain degree of rework if defects arise.5. settlement and subsidence 4. the load-bearing capacity of the deep foundation is determined in addition to routine investigation of the drilling explorations (assessment of the soil strata encountered).


they still did not conform to the applicable regulations. The defective foundations can be reinforced with the aid of injections. Even when high-rise buildings are still under construction. The equilibrium of forces originally present in the ground is disturbed by excavation of the soil for the underground floors and by application of the structural loads. time-saving and generally better alternative for the principal. due to its immense overall weight. and the only alternative is usually to demolish the building. demolition of the shell will usually prove to be the more economical.2 Settlement and subsidence Settlement and subsidence are another risk. will usually be required on account of the simultaneous disturbance produced in the subsoil. Depending on the type of building. It may also occur after several years and may not only cause the building to collapse. . The piles buckled and some sheared off. that a certain degree of settlement will be unavoidable in all these projects. such as replacement piles. however. This can be achieved by a corresponding arrangement of joints in the building and other structural measures. settlement will occur immediately or at a later date. but can also result in devastating casualties. it is advisable to record prior damage on neighbouring buildings as evidence before starting the work. i. The required load-bearing capacity may likewise not be achieved if deviations from the vertical axis exceeding the theoretically permissible limit occur as a result of encountering obstacles or due to carelessness while drilling (sinking). subsequent changes in the subsoil or an incorrect appraisal of the load-bearing capacity lead to abrupt and extensive subsidence which may threaten the stability of the entire building. 4. undetected disturbances. Such subsidence can occur during the construction phase. The spectacular collapse of a high-rise building will in many cases be due to a combination of causes. such as the use of hydraulic jacks. inadequate workmanship and problematical soil conditions. bore diaphragms).5. limits or other restrictions when concluding the policy before construction starts. However. In one case. with the result that the high-rise apartment block literally tipped over and then collapsed. It must be pointed out. supplementary piles or root piles if necessary on account of the limited height available on the underground floors. pile bents or injections. however. This is not uncommon. This can impair the intended load-bearing capacity or even make it necessary to abandon the pile in question. reject railway tracks were used as the foundation element for a high-rise building instead of the usual steel or reinforced concrete piles. these piles were neither structurally nor theoretically in a position to absorb the additional active horizontal earth pressure. For this reason. the soil conditions and the foundation selected. the indemnification for such supplementary costs should be suitably limited by correspondingly worded clauses. In the latter case. In many cases. if defective work. such measures are almost impossible in a completed high-rise building. Problems only arise. It is very difficult to repair a high-rise building when its stability has been jeopardized by such severe subsidence. Simple repairs or reworking are rarely possible in such cases. These supplementary measures may prove considerably more expensive than the original foundation. this will also give rise to the question whether a mere defect is involved or whether it is a physical loss with corresponding consequences for indemnification under the policy. Depending on the method selected (diaphragm wall. such as a combination of design errors. The planning engineer is responsible for ensuring that such settlement is determined correctly and for ordering appropriate structural precautions so that the settlement remains within tolerable limits.Page 121 4 Risk potential is raised after completing the pile. When heavy rainfall subsequently caused a landslide on a nearby slope. Extensive supplementary measures. the retaining wall can also cause the ground to settle and result in damage to third-party property.e. Attention must be devoted to the horizontal forces in particular when designing the foundations for high-rise buildings on sloping ground. particularly in the case of long piles. Although the tracks were welded together to give them the requisite loadbearing capacity. thus resulting in a total loss. when the building has already reached a certain height and consequently also a certain weight. in a phase where repairs would still be possible on account of the lower dead weight.

heating water. DEVELOPMENT OF LOSSES The damage is due to the interplay between the nature of the media concerned (e. such as materials containing asbestos or materials with excessive formaldehyde concentrations. The problem can be minimized by providing additional piles. i. In the case of high-rise buildings.7. discoloration. Particular attention will have to be paid to settlement in this context. but also increases the risk for the insurer. Another problem associated with conversions is that the normally strict controls with regard to access and authorization are often suspended for the conversions: workers. the use of such flammable substances as adhesive and bituminous materials or naked lights.2 Rehabilitation Rehabilitation is an extreme form of conversion. Extremely stringent requirements must therefore be imposed on the fire-protection measures due to the incomparably greater risk potential. 4. Redecoration and modernization are the commonest conversions. it is precisely this separation that imposes limits on what is economically acceptable.g. Conclusion: all conversions. are all needed in order to distribute or discharge the drinking water. the fire brigade will have to be ready on site to take immediate action if an emergency arises. or – potentially dangerous structures. shrinkage or expansion and mould. for instance for soldering and welding. at the same time. installations and interior finishing commonly applied in the construction of modern high-rise buildings.7 Special structural measures Considerations on the conversion. In such a case. soiling. however. However.. heating water and effluent horizontally and vertically. heating or ventilation are relatively harmless phenomena. Even if technically feasible. this will prove fairly difficult as the working height of the drills is usually limited by the height of the various levels in the underground car parking.6 Water GENERAL Like other buildings. for example. conversions will almost always only affect the interior finishing and the installations.1 Conversions Conversions are constantly being made to any high-rise building with thousands of square metres of useful floor space. can have serious consequences if high standards of purity and hygiene must be met by those areas still in operation. on the other hand. conversions involving changes to the existing structural system. suppliers and the vehicles transporting materials and equipment need “open doors”. 4.7. depending on the duration of the leak and the amount of water involved. The range of possible conversions extends from simply relocating interior wall elements or fitting complete new false ceilings or laying new floor coverings to “gutting” the building completely. As a rule. to the supporting structures. corrosion. pressure reducers. This naturally also increases the risk of unauthorized persons exploiting the situation and simply marching into the building. however. all or part of the building is restored to the condition of a shell and then refinished with corresponding installations and interior finishing in line with its new use. these loads will have to be discharged via extended foundations in extreme cases. will usually be rendered impossible on account of the costs involved. The dust inevitably generated by such conversions. As in the case of “normal” building work. in addition to those necessitated by changes in operational procedures and use of the building. The considerably larger size of the installations in comparison to “normal” buildings is another risk factor: booster systems and pumps. etc. design and execution of the plants and the prevailing operating conditions. the risk is further aggravated by the fact that leaking water rapidly finds its way to floors below the actual leakage point. thus increasing the number of possible leaks. effluent). All the aspects already mentioned in the previous section also apply here in particular. rehabilitation and finally demolition of high-rise buildings have been subsumed under this heading. On the one hand. but is also one of the most difficult jobs for third-party liability insur- . Correct disposal of contaminated materials and substances not only poses a technical challenge. this damage will be due to soaking. installations or computer systems can also make conversions necessary. there is the problem of disposing of the physiologically harmful materials. the quality of the installation materials. The fact that conversions are often undertaken while operation continues without interruption in those parts of the building and on those floors not affected by the work not only makes the work more difficult. if these conversions result in considerably higher loads for the building.4 Risk potential Page 122 4.e. More stringent or additional requirements in respect of fire protection. high-rise buildings can also suffer damage due to water. with the result that several floors may be affected. must be thoroughly planned in advance and organized in detail with due consideration given to all eventualities. From a technical point of view. will be unavoidable when carrying out conversions. The nuisance due to noise and unpleasant odours or temporary failure of the sanitary installations. conversions and changes of use are facilitated by the separation of shell (= supporting structure). 4. drinking water. such as computer systems or doctors’ offices. For this reason. The two commonest reasons making rehabilitation measures necessary are – physiologically harmful materials. In particular cases. no matter how slight. In addition.

. have caused serious damage to the surrounding areas. experienced experts can make a building collapse in such a way that the surrounding structures remain undamaged. These presses are in continuous duty and maintain a constant compressive strain on the upper edge of the masonry. it will be impossible to continue normal operation of the building while the rehabilitation work is in progress.e. on the other hand. conversion and rehabilitation can no longer meet the more stringent requirements imposed on a building. Within only a few years. the roof structure links the inner skeleton with the outer wall via hydraulic presses. The building’s outer and inner columns were reanchored in the roof structure. 4.3 Demolition Demolition remains the method of last resort when even changes in use. the demolition of a building has ceased to be a low-tech job and become a highly specialized technical task. i. Either the building is then dismantled carefully and with as little noise and dust as possible. thus reducing the load in the columns. In the majority of cases. Ceilings in line with today’s state of the art were then installed. The new brick facade was then built up on its own foundations around the steel supporting structure. The facade was secured to the supporting structure by means of steel brackets for reinforcement. An alternative method was employed when Winterton House in London was rehabilitated in the 1960s. In this case. As spectacular explosions of high-rise buildings have proved. when all interior finishings and installations have been removed and duly disposed of (recycling) and when there are no further physiologically harmful materials in the remaining supporting structure. Less carefully planned explosions. or – if the circumstances permit – explosives experts apply their precisely primed charges to the predetermined points after analysing the drawings and inspecting the remaining building. such rehabilitation will usually also be associated with conversion and a completely new interior finish.Page 123 4 Risk potential ers on account of the possible environmental impact and health hazard. An active construction was required to compensate the differences in thermal expansion of the facade and supporting structure. For this reason. Experienced specialists are needed not only in order to meet environmental regulations requiring that all materials and parts accumulated in the course of the demolition work be carefully sorted.7. but also to judge how the complex supporting structures will react during the demolition. Specialists often take over when the building has finally been gutted. It is no longer standard practice today and in many countries even illegal simply to demolish a building – often with the help of unskilled labourers. the reinforced concrete literally being “nibbled away” by special machines. All false ceilings and facade linings were removed first.



WORLD TRADE CENTER IN NEW YORK The consequences of a car-bomb explosion in the underground car park of New York’s famous World Trade Center on 26th February 1993 were even more devastating.000 visitors are additionally recorded every day. 10th April 1992. Specific reuse of the materials will be unavoidable as contaminated materials must be dumped on special landfills in some regions and landfill space for construction rubble becomes scarcer and increasingly more expensive. Separating and sorting the contaminated materials often entails a great deal of work. such as terrorism.m. target for terrorist attacks.4 Disposal As already mentioned in the preceding section. etc.7. plus the loss of rental income during the tower’s restoration. The resultant materials (crushed stone. the dominant presence of a highrise building will suffice to obstruct the devastating shock waves of an explosion somewhere else. The problem of such business interruptions will be discussed in the next section. Contrary to the recommendations of experts. In many cases.8 Other risks For the sake of completeness. suitability for disposal and reusability. The bomb fortunately exploded around lunchtime when many of the offices were empty. – dust. – contamination. The physical damage sustained by the building amounted to more than £40m.000 people normally work in the skyscraper and over 80.) can then be used in the construction of a new high-rise building. steel and PVC are sorted. The emergency power generators and central water supply were located on the uppermost of the six underground floors immediately above the parking decks and therefore . Six people were killed in the explosion and more than 1. this can also be done on site using mobile plants. particular attention must be paid to disposal of the materials accumulated in conjunction with conversions. delivered to recycling plants and reprocessed. sometimes inadvertent.4 Risk potential Page 126 In addition to taking into account the existing supporting structure. The most appropriate methods are then selected on the basis of such influencing factors as – vibrations. but unfortunately also become a popular. After corresponding reports in the national press and thanks to availability of the complete data in Croydon. the material must be dumped on special landfills. If this is not possible. such as the consequential costs due to physical damage. on the following Monday. 4. A skyscraper’s famous name is enough to assure the terrorists of the desired media attention following an attack. The work is preceded by detailed analyses of the existing structures. 4. Although there is no effective protection against such indirect effects of terrorist attacks. – site traffic. the crisis management set up by CU for such events passed its first test with flying colours and saved the company from potentially ruinous loss of business. however. thus also reducing the volume of traffic on site. Such reusable materials as concrete. neighbouring buildings and the site environment. either occur very rarely. 4. are unavoidable. rehabilitation measures and demolition jobs.8. it is also important to investigate the effect of conversions. The materials must be analysed before starting the work and classified according to their contamination.000 were injured. for instance by washing the soil. mention must also be made of a few other risks which. or are often underestimated. such as wear.1 Terrorism High-rise buildings with their characteristic silhouette in a city’s skyline not only represent a magnet for tenants. in the immediate vicinity of this newly renovated tower with its completely new facade. In the case of concrete or masonry. Around 50. – noise. OFFICE TOWER OF COMMERCIAL UNION INSURANCE IN LONDON Precisely that was the fate of the office tower of Commercial Union in London when a bomb exploded on the evening of Friday. as the 1998 bombing attacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam show. The degree to which the materials can ultimately be sorted depends on the local regulations and on the landfill capabilities and costs. there were no special precautions against such terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center with its 417-m and 415-m-tall twin towers and the 22-storey Vista Hotel between them. rehabilitation and demolition work on the existing supporting structure. The primary objective is to reduce the volume of contaminated rubble so that it can be decontaminated (if possible). although closely associated with high-rise buildings. customers and guests. the company was able to resume its business at 9 a. the explosion caused immense physical damage estimated at around US$ 500m.

the bomber crossed the East River and Manhattan above 42nd Street. for example. Thanks to the attentiveness of the security personnel.m. New Jersey.2 Impact The risk of an “impact or crash of a manned flying object or parts thereof or its cargo” which is normally included in the insurance cover for buildings. it is extremely important that the emergency plans and fire-fighting measures already discussed in the preceding sections be applied and function smoothly. When an accident of this type does occur. is considered a necessary but rarely claimed insurance element. blocking this escape route.m. many of them from other federal states. but the damaged building itself was not insured. FEDERAL BUILDING IN OKLAHOMA most always a genuine catastrophe. The 800 gallons of kerosene in the tanks exploded and totally destroyed the western half of the two floors concerned. Altogether 43 fire brigades and auxiliary organizations. 4.Page 127 4 Risk potential highly vulnerable. as this underground car park was open to all users. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. while 14 people were killed in the offices directly affected by the explosion on the 79th floor. The 78th floor was fortunately only used as a store and there were no further fatalities there. The other engine made its way through an elevator shaft and ultimately came to rest in a stairwell. Many people were recovered alive from the rubble. The nine-storey office building accommodated not only several federal authorities. from where it dropped onto the roof of a 12-storey building which also caught fire. two people in the lifts survived the crash with serious injuries. it blasted a hole in the concrete floors of the decks above and below and left a crater roughly 30 m deep. Witnesses saw the aircraft heading directly towards a high-rise building on Park Avenue at a height of roughly 2. Most of the witnesses subsequently said that it seemed as if the pilot was having technical problems. What insights and conclusions can be drawn from these occurrences? There is naturally no such thing as complete protection against the inventiveness and fanatical destructive urge of terrorist attackers.52 a. The people inside the building were buried under the rubble. Shortly before 10 a. When the bomb concealed in a delivery van detonated. a B25 bomber of the US Air Force with a crew of three approached Newark airport.000 ft. the aircraft could not be pulled up in good time and drilled its way into the 78th and 79th floors of the Empire State Building at precisely 9. . The blast killed 168 people and injured 475. but also a daycare centre for young children. The suspensions on several elevators were destroyed and two cabins crashed 300 m to the bottom basement floor. The 12-ton aircraft was scheduled to land at Newark a few minutes later. It had to be completely demolished on account of the major damage suffered. Three underground railway lines also have their own stations on two of these parking decks. it was possible to defuse the bomb placed by a terrorist organization in a delivery van outside the new office tower on London’s Canary Wharf. All in all.8. for whatever reason. Several nearby buildings also suffered considerable damage and numerous cars caught fire. What is known is that. appropriate security and fire-protection measures should make it more difficult for them to achieve their objectives. Windows shattered even at a distance of several kilometres. Two of the most spectacular cases in which an aircraft collided with a high-rise building occurred in New York and near Amsterdam. Pedestrians and shoppers saw how the aircraft just managed to evade this building at roughly the level of the 22nd floor and then avoided colliding with another skyscraper on Fifth Avenue. although the media frequently feature such “near misses”. Visibility was no more than 2 miles. The bomb with almost two tonnes of explosive had been concealed in a small closed pick-up truck parked near the main entrance to the building. One engine continued right through the 79th floor and emerged through the outer wall on the southern side of the building. The bomber’s wings broke off first. the cloud ceiling had dropped to roughly 500 m. Hundreds of people would probably have been killed in the offices and on the surrounding streets on a normal working day. Fire broke out immediately in the building. Numerous fires broke out on the three levels affected. The number of losses of this type reported to date is admittedly small. The fuselage ripped a 6-m hole into the facade and penetrated more than 25 m into the building. took part in the rescue operation which commenced immediately. however. Nevertheless. One such measure would be total control of all incoming and outgoing people and vehicles. At a cruising speed of roughly 320 km/h. The building was positively “lifted” by the shock wave from the detonation and the supporting structure so severely damaged that almost one-half of every floor collapsed and the glass facade was sheared off. EMPIRE STATE BUILDING. Caustic smoke rapidly spread through service and elevator shafts in the two towers and in the hotel. just a few miles from the centre of Manhattan. possibly with numerous fatalities and enormous losses. NEW YORK CITY The world was even more deeply shocked by the explosion of a car bomb outside the Alfred P. however. 28th July 1945. The complete loss was estimated at more than US$ 300m. USA. By a miracle. on the morning of 19th April 1995. Whether that was indeed the case is still unknown today. The physical loss totalled around US$ 1m – an immense sum in those days and the equivalent of 4% of the contract price – and it took over a year to repair the building. it is al- A light fog lay over the city on the morning of Saturday. the catastrophe could have been even worse. If such an attack cannot be prevented.





but it has still not collapsed. CONSTRUCTION PHASE As already mentioned.3 Collapse The collapse of a building could be considered the “worst case” for everyone involved in its planning and realization. . but also in order to make a profit. since these flats were inhabited by numerous immigrants and asylum seekers. not only on account of the considerable borrowed capital and higher resultant interest burden. highrise buildings will always constitute a certain impact risk if only on account of their height. Every major loss during the construction phase will consequently thwart his efforts to achieve this aim and can even jeopardize his financial survival. however. etc. while the considerable consequential losses following such an occurrence have only been mentioned in passing. the realization of high-rise construction projects requires considerable financial resources and investments.) – Defective work (stripping times. 43 people were killed in addition to the crew. The leaning tower of Pisa.4 Risk potential Page 132 BIJLMERMEER NEAR AMSTERDAM A Boeing 747-200 F operated by the Israeli airline El Al with a crew of four and 320 tonnes of freight on board was on its way from New York to Tel Aviv via Amsterdam on 4th October 1992. UV radiation. According to official figures. concentrated storage of materials on floors not structurally dimensioned for this purpose) During the occupancy phase. They play an important part in conjunction with plastics and rubber materials and differ from the corrosion processes primarily affecting metallic materials. experts at Schipol airport had considered the risk of an aircraft crashing into this residential area to be “negligible” – a disastrously false assessment. such as pumps. inclusion in flight maps and designation of air corridors with sufficient distance. the moving parts of which are subject to wear in accordance with their operating conditions.g.g. for which interest and repayment instalments are often already due during the planning phase or at the latest when the land is purchased. This problem will now be discussed in more detail here. 233 flats were destroyed. the tower has leaned over further and further over the centuries. joints and seals are influenced in particular by temperature. elevators and garage doors. The possible causes are often complex and difficult to ascertain retrospectively. the investor will also seek to conclude a large number of contracts with future tenants or lessees during the construction phase. such intentions do not always function as smoothly as with motor vehicles. Ten minutes after taking off from Schipol Airport. wind. The owner’s primary aim will be to ensure that the high-rise building is completed as quickly as possible. dust and gaseous emissions. 4. corrosion of metallic materials on facades and roofs does not constitute any form of wear – assuming that mistakes have not been made in the planning. Cracks in the tension zone of the concrete or plastic deformation of the steel structure could be detected if the building is properly serviced. but also the approval for often expensive interior finishings tailored specifically to the tenant’s requirements. It would then have to be closed due to the risk of collapsing. on the other hand.) – Incorrect use of the building during the construction phase (e. Inside the building itself there are numerous installations. Due to poor soil conditions. inspection and repair) must be drawn up and observed in order to minimize the probability of losses occurring due to component wear. by adding floors or removing supporting structures) – Poor maintenance Evacuation of the people in the building depends very strongly on the manner in which it collapses. Both buildings caught fire within seconds of the crash as a result of the full tanks. moisture. Particularly in the case of high-rise buildings. In the majority of cases. execution and choice of materials – but is instead a desired process covering the metals with a protective layer. Not long before the accident. wrong quality of materials. shows just how long it can take for an impending collapse actually to take place. No precautions can be taken against a sudden failure of the supporting structure.9 Loss of profit The risk potential and examples of losses discussed in the preceding sections have focused above all on the physical damage to the building as such. machines and units. Ageing processes on such building parts as windows. Such contracts usually not only govern the tenancy as such. the fully laden aircraft had evidently not gained sufficient height and crashed into the two high-rise buildings “Groenevenen” and “Kruitberg” in a modern satellite town near Amsterdam. The financial consequences for its owner and the exposure risk for the people inside the building and in its vicinity when it collapses are devastating. The following risks are a potential source of errors during the planning and construction phases: – Flawed analysis of the subsoil – Flawed structural analyses – Lack of coordination between the parties involved in the planning and realization (changes which are not taken into account. as it turned out.8. fans.4 Wear A high-rise building is exposed to time-dependent influences during its occupancy period. 4. compressors. Unfortunately. but risk potential can be identified and corresponding precautions taken. Insiders assume. that many more people were actually killed. Maintenance schedules (for maintenance. Despite adequate lighting. etc. 4. and not all residents may have been officially registered. a building may collapse for the following reasons: – Structural changes which have not been taken into account in the structural analysis of the building (e.8.




two vehicle tunnels and the stations for three underground railway lines carrying the roughly 50. Since these are consequential losses. The World Trade Center (WTC) in New York (see Section 4. It was mentioned in Section 3. The second tower additionally accommodates a switchboard for New York’s telephone system with. such as investment companies. The following risk potential and other aspects must also be weighed up by the tenants renting offices and business space in what is no doubt an attractively located high-rise building from a strategic business point of view: – If the tenants have obtained very favourable long-term leases in the past which. the least of which will be media advertisements publicizing the forthcoming opening of new premises. and are linked by a 22-storey hotel complex. the owner will therefore seek to attract solvent tenants guaranteeing a profit in line with his cost calculations within the framework of a long-term lease. these tenants must expect to pay considerably more when renting comparable business premises if rents have risen substantially in the meantime. raw commodity markets. Innumerable other consequential costs are also possible. A 100-m television mast with various antennas is mounted atop one of the towers.200 businesses on an area of 7 hectares. however. the investor will expect a guaranteed return on his investment. however. appraise and control their associated risks before considering a well-conceived insurance. brokers. The two office towers are 415 and 417 m high. OPERATING PHASE The main financing aspects concerning the construction phase also apply equally to the operating phase. i.8. the telecommunications for air traffic control at New York’s three largest airports.2. The possibility of covering some of these consequential losses through corresponding insurance products will be discussed later. as well as on the dates agreed between the tenant on the one hand and tradesmen. Underneath the extensive open-air plaza are the largest covered shopping promenade in Manhattan. six department stores and shops.000 visitors recorded every day. organizations and a complex infrastructure are consequently dependent on the smooth functioning of the two towers. With 110 floors.e. the tenants concerned will possibly also have to reckon with considerable additional costs for all the special measures required in order (preferably within the scope of contingency plans) to avoid or at least minimize any negative effects on the company’s operating and earnings situation. This is particularly true if the owner has during the construction phase already provided advance financing for complex interior finishing meeting the tenant’s wishes. In spite of this. whose fate largely depends on the profitability of a highrise building and who must precisely identify.4 Risk potential Page 136 Delayed completion of the building can therefore also have negative effects on the contracts already concluded.000 parking spaces.000 people working in the two towers and the roughly 80. respectively. it will probably be impossible to prevent all loss of gross profit between occurrence of the physical loss and restoration of normal operating conditions. The economic environment of the high-rise construction project must also be taken into account – depending on the order of magnitude in each instance. suppliers or service-providers on the other. customs authorities and television companies.4. . among other things. The WTC is made up of seven buildings accommodating some 1. These statements thus merely serve to underline the measures already outlined in the preceding sections with regard to loss prevention. for example. Numerous businesses. The owner of a high-rise building will therefore wish to know what impact a maximum foreseeable physical loss due to the aforementioned risk potential could have on his calculated revenues and expenditures: – How long will it take for the property (offices and business premises) to be restored and when can they be relet? – Can the property be relet immediately and generate the calculated revenues or must rents be expected to decline due to the growing supply in the neighbourhood of the property? – What is the term of the individually concluded leases? – What revenues are guaranteed by these leases over their entire term? Under what conditions could a tenant rescind the contract completely or insist on a pro rata reduction in rent due. the best precaution is to avoid the physical losses leading to such delays in completion of the construction work. 2.1) is an example of this economic aspect underlining the loss-of-profit risk. – Quite apart from the additional rent to be paid for temporary or definitive removal to alternative premises. can be terminated prematurely on account of material physical damage to the building or to the rented furnishings. to a physical loss of the aforementioned type? – What is the maximum term to be foreseen by the owner of a high-rise building. they provide roughly one million m2 of useful floor space for various offices. and what losses will he in all probability have to include in his calculations during this period? Investors and owners are not the only people.4 that high-rise buildings could be compared to a “town under one roof”. from occurrence of the physical loss until the calculated rent revenues are obtained again. Even as the property is being let. Regardless of whether own or borrowed capital has been invested. however.

the tenants in the towers had to find alternative premises at considerable expense and had to finance the temporary furnishings. the towers’ owner – the Port Authority Risk Management – was naturally anxious to do everything possible as quickly as possible in order not to lose tenants. Due to the surplus of offices available in New York City in 1993. Perfect contingency plans meant that 220 floors were cleaned up within only 21 days and the towers reopened for use as offices on 19th and 26th March. which separates New York from New Jersey. Both office towers were closed by official order until further notice. . while another cited a figure of US$ 20m daily. This was not always an easy matter in view of the special technical equipment required in various cases. particularly the transport corporations and the toll bridges and tunnels over and under the Hudson River. During this one-month break. it is important always to remember that “if anything can go wrong. Particularly when assessing the loss of profit risk.Page 137 4 Risk potential The magnitude of the direct losses caused by the car bomb on 23rd February 1993 has already been described in detail. In this way. an economic loss of roughly US$ 1bn was incurred in a onemonth period. it will – at the worst conceivable moment – and everything always takes longer than expected“. The absence of the people working in the office towers inevitably also led to loss of profit for the other businesses and organizations in the area and surrounding districts. respectively. One Japanese institute quoted lost revenues in the order of US$ 12m per day.

4 Underwriting considerations 5.3 Problem of maximum loss 5.2 Third-party liability insurance 5.1 Property insurance 5.5 Insurance 5 5.5 Reinsurance .

possibly including cover for construction and erection equipment. including installations for air-conditioning. complete or partial collapse (decennial liability) and various additional perils (natural hazards. Such early and precise demarcation of risk between the principal and the contractors is of great importance. water damage. requires a series of policies covering such risks as fire. such as facades or special foundations. the respective risk potential during the construction phase must also be weighed up and valued by the insurer. The effects of such semi-prototypes for contractors’ all risks insurance must be investigated separately. with divergent risks which consequently can be considered a kind of prototype. This must already be specified in the tenders.1. by contractors’ all risks insurance. at least in part. however. Almost every blueprint of a high-rise building also includes a series of tailor-made elements. If coverage in accordance with an erection all risks (EAR) policy is required in certain cases for the interior finishing. glass breakage. this can be included in the CAR policy through corresponding extensions of cover without making it necessary to issue two separate policies. electric and telecommunications systems.1 Property insurance A distinction must first be made between construction of a high-rise building (construction or erection) and the subsequent occupancy phase. 5. The first phase will be covered Unless explicitly stated otherwise. At the end of the planning phase. etc. if not before. care must be taken in this specific case to ensure that the scope of cover is precisely defined in relation to the concurrent CAR policy. there are a number of additional risks associated with the construction and subsequent occupancy of highrise buildings which can only be appraised by an experienced insurer. A separate EAR policy is only meaningful if a strict distinction is to be made between the structural works and the interior finishing on account of different insurance interests (principal/tenant). Since different methods are often employed for the construction work. the following comments apply equally to the cover granted under a CAR and . but also for subsequent loss events. GENERAL 5. The second phase.1 Contractors’ and erection all risks insurance Construction work on a high-rise building is normally covered by contractors’ all risks (CAR) insurance. not only for determination of the premium.Page 139 5 Insurance Compared with normal building construction. however. 5 Insurance GENERAL The project documents usually only provide information on the finished building and how it is integrated into the townscape.). The project documents provide an initial overview of these risks. the principal must decide how the risks during the construction work are to be spread between himself and the contractors. Since. it is impossible both physically and chronologically to separate the structural works from the interior finishing.

erection of the retaining walls. a clear distinction must be made between the cover defined for the CAR policy and that of the subsequent insurance for the building. Under these agreements. A so-called maintenance agreement is often concluded between the principal and the contractor for the period after completion of the construction work. FORM OF COVER It concerns all-risks coverage. As a rule. The sum insured can also be increased by a safety margin in order to avoid the danger of underinsurance. It is therefore essential to obtain full information on the work of these specialized companies as well. although all subcontractors are also covered. they will be indemnified in full. of the risks from ground and soil and the exposure due to natural hazards. who can then decide on . as experience has shown that the policyholder’s interest in In cases of physical damage to the insured contract works. PERIOD OF COVER The interests of all parties involved in the construction work are normally insured by the principal. On the other hand.5 Insurance Page 140 an EAR policy. Extensive preparatory work (routing of supply lines. it may be necessary to introduce a limit of indemnity for losses due to natural hazards. In spite of all efforts to boost efficiency.g. the contract value must be regularly reviewed by the insured to take account of inflationary price rises or higher sums due to supplementary contracts during the construction period. the contractor is obliged to remedy any defects occurring in the building during the term of the maintenance agreement (usually 12 months). removing damaged parts in order to carry out repairs). if the cost types are the same as those included in the sum insured. and this sum insured must then be adjusted correspondingly in the policy. particularly in this context and especially if completed floors are let earlier in order to earn income from rentals or sales proceeds as soon as possible. This procedure should be applied above all to cleanup costs (removal of debris) and loss-locating costs. In both cases. the duty to indemnify depends on whether or not expenditure was incurred in conjunction with an indemnifiable loss. construction work usually continues over several years. The terms of insurance must be clear. in order to appraise the physical and moral hazard. however.e. We believe that this procedure allows insurers to assess their liabilities more accurately. This naturally means that the insurer must take account. there are exceptions. In very rare cases. excavation and water management) is necessary before work on the high-rise building actually starts. the total sum insured is equal to the maximum indemnification for all claims payments. Here. the insured is granted a corresponding premium refund. However. every cause of loss is covered unless explicitly excluded. in particular. The group of insured persons or companies is therefore very large. LOSS ADJUSTMENT Particular expertise is required of the insurer when determining the sum insured. then the contractual agreements reached between principal and contractor must be reviewed in order to assess the risk to be borne by the insurer. such as earthquakes. And it is also in the interests of the policyholder. or – In addition to the aforementioned cover. In all cases. especially windstorm and flooding. In such cases. The repair costs will sometimes be higher than the original expenditure up to occurrence of the loss. However. This explains why the general contractor is not the only party of interest to the insurer. insurance of physical losses occurring during the maintenance period but caused by an event originating in the construction phase (Clause 004: Extended maintenance). such as monsoon rains or autumn gales. POLICYHOLDER exact documentation of the final sum insured declines after conclusion of the construction work. The policies recommended by Munich Re include such costs only if this has been specifically agreed and a first-loss sum provided for this purpose. This reduces the risk to the contractor’s insurer. Two types of insurance cover can be granted for property losses in this period: – Insurance of physical losses following maintenance work (Clause 003: Maintenance visits). However. the insurer will indemnify the necessary costs incurred for restoring or replacing the damaged contract works. Insurance cover is also required for this preparatory work. i. If this margin exceeds the actual sum insured upon completion of the construction work. it is not advisable to wait until the end of the construction phase before adjusting the sum insured. the approximate contract value at the beginning of the insurance term can serve as a provisional sum insured and is used as the basis for calculation of the premium. for the special jobs undertaken by subcontractors can frequently represent a greater risk. with the result that during risk assessment the construction schedule should be consulted in order to include seasonal hazards. This may be necessitated by inadequate capacities or uncertainties when estimating the possible maximum loss. SUM INSURED Insurance cover is provided until the policy expires or until the construction work is finally accepted by the principal or until the building is taken into service or used. since losses can arise even in this phase of construction. too. These are often specialists. both the principal and the general contractor are policyholders in a CAR/EAR policy. If – in deviation of the norm – only the contractor takes out CAR/EAR insurance to safeguard his own interests. The risk for losses due to force majeure will normally pass partly or entirely to the principal. the general contractor is liable as contractor to the principal. particularly in highrise construction. if this occurs before expiry of the policy. Both policies cover the construction or erection work specified in the Schedule against unforeseen and sudden physical losses of every kind. This is not the case with costs which are first incurred during repairs (e.

Assessment of the moral hazard always begins with the planning process. The same also applies to indemnification of additional planning costs which may be incurred due to repairs if the original planning costs were not included in the stipulated sum insured or if new plans are required on account of the circumstances surrounding the loss. airfreight (007). POLICYHOLDER The CAR policy can be suitably extended with the aid of various other standard clauses. The purpose of this extension of cover is to insure the principal’s financial losses due to delayed commissioning or occupancy following an indemnifiable CAR loss during the construction phase. the latter should be the sole beneficiary. Only those costs will be indemnified which are necessarily incurred in order to restore the building to the same technical condition as immediately before occurrence of the loss. In order to ensure that they are able to exert their full influence in the event of a loss. Even such additional agreements as contractual penalties or liquidated damages provide only inadequate relief here.Page 141 5 Insurance the amount of cover required in view of the potentially very high “additional loss costs”. The following most commonly used clauses provide extended cover for political risks (Clause 001). FORM OF COVER Assessment of the physical hazard by insurers should be based on the same considerations as those underlying the choice of a certain construction method. this may have to be reduced to take account of the ALOP cover. Last but not least. interest due on withheld warranty sums and other “soft costs”. however. extended maintenance (004). can also be of great importance when assessing the moral hazard. in order to provide sufficiently comprehensive cover for the erection work concerned. too. whether a certain method or material was perhaps only selected in order to save time or money. RISK ASSESSMENT 5. If the property policy provides for a very large scope of cover. For this reason. The same applies if other. when it comes to adjusting property losses. Stand-alone ALOP covers without property insurance should as a rule be declined because. independent of the terms and conditions of insurance. but not the loss of operating profit or standing charges due to delayed commissioning or occupancy following a loss. fire-fighting facilities (112) and designer’s risk (115). both the principal and the contractor should be named as policyholders in the basic policy cover. and particularly the quality of the contractors’ construction or erection personnel. including those applicable to EAR insurance. more complex methods are used for the repairs. since their interests should be regulated in the financing agreements concluded with the principal. the necessary information is lacking and there is no way to influence the adjustment process.2 Advance loss of profit insurance The large proportion of borrowed capital required to finance high-rise construction projects has made principals increasingly aware that conventional property policies will only cover a limited part of the overall loss. to determine whether principals assign the planning and supervision of the construction work to their own office or whether they retain various engineering offices for this purpose. Contractors on the other hand cannot obtain ALOP cover to insure their consequential losses – above and beyond the property losses covered by Section I of the CAR policy – such as penalties. In addition. EXTENDED COVERS ALOP risks are written in line with Section III in the Schedule to the standard policy for property cover. for example. The agreed deductible must in all cases be taken into consideration in the calculated amount of indemnity. are only indemnifiable to the extent that they were included in the original sum insured.1. The insurers must then determine whether. they must also consider. The question whether planning and execution were done under time pressure and whether the schedule allowed for adequate time buffers can also be of decisive importance. they. a higher risk of physical damage was knowingly accepted by the principal or contractor as a result of this choice. this also means that any costs associated with such improvement or change will not be indemnifiable. Banks should also be excluded as policyholders. but with due regard to the possibility of a higher moral hazard. This applies particularly to the exclusion of losses following delayed completion of the construction work as a result of earthquakes. however. they are both named policyholders under the ALOP cover. . for instance. the existing CAR (EAR) policy can be extended by means of an ALOP cover. if the original condition is improved or changed as a result of the repair. in the light of known risk factors. The manner in which the planning has been organized must be reviewed. However. overtime (006). In such a case. A special situation only arises in conjunction with the increasingly widespread “build-operate-transfer” (BOT) projects where principal and contractor act together and therefore are joint usufructuaries of the building following its completion. cross liability (002). Since ALOP covers exclusively protect interests of the principal. the contractors’ experience on similar high-rise construction projects.

so that loss-related delays can be distinguished from those unrelated to losses and so that their impact on the original completion date can be traced. lost orders and licences. the insurance does not cover losses due to internal mechanical or electrical problems. while at the same time creating an incentive for the policyholder to prevent losses and ensure the orderly organization of construction work. CLAIMS HANDLING The handling of claims. seasonal business. So-called one-off costs cannot be insured. this results in a highly desirable time excess of several months. Due to the difficulties often encountered in removing rubble and in obtaining new licences. since this is the only value that can be objectively determined. water. foundation structures and excavation.e. EXCESS Time excess is always preferable to monetary excess with this form of cover and should be equal to at least four weeks per twelve months of construction time. i. such machinery and plant is required above all for the retaining walls. since numerous cases of physical damage during the construction period will ultimately delay commissioning of the high-rise building. personnel). The maximum period of indemnity to be specified in the policy should be sufficient to allow damaged or destroyed parts of the building to be repaired or replaced. The sum insured should correspond to the replacement value of the insured machinery and plant. For this reason. this concerns machinery insurance for contractors and is limited to external causes of loss.3 Insurance of contractors’ plant and machinery Construction plant and machinery can be insured under the CAR policy. – “Ongoing interest charges” incurred by the principal if he cannot sell the building at the planned time and must repay the loans taken out to finance construction of the building or if the interest due cannot be paid at the planned time out of income from rental or leasing. Insurance is not required for these variable costs (e. Basically. Experience has shown that numerous individual losses must be expected in particular when insuring contractors’ plant and machinery. It is only with the much less common total losses that the amount of indemnity is limited to the current value. projected fixed costs and operating profit for the high-rise building. but also claimshandling costs. this can easily result in indemnity periods considerably longer than the originally planned construction period. However. determination of the indemnifiable period of delay in completing the building and the resultant loss of profit is normally complex and time-consuming. since they are not yet incurred when the delay occurs. sums which are due for payment or which are lost in full on a fixed date. for instance by purchasing outside electricity.5 Insurance Page 142 SUM INSURED The sum insured is normally equal to the gross annual profit. in the case of partial losses – which make up the bulk of all losses – the repair costs can then be indemnified newfor-old without deduction. This gross profit is determined by deducting the variable costs from the sales or profit. through Clause 202 in the EAR policy or in a completely separate contractors’ plant and machinery insurance. i. renting flats. – “Additional costs” if the loss of profit can be avoided or reduced in this way. progress should be verified at regular intervals during the construction phase. If the agreed period of indemnity exceeds one year.g. Appropriate deductibles can therefore reduce not only the claims burden. thus resulting in only one ALOP loss during the agreed indemnity period. such as tax benefits. The following can therefore also be insured: – “Ongoing rent costs” if the policyholder must pay rent for continued occupancy of other business premises when completion of the new high-rise building is delayed. The scope of cover is the same in all three cases. 5. PERIOD OF INDEMNITY The policy recommended by Munich Re for this cover provides for a one-off application of the time excess. Cranes are used for construction of the high-rise building as such. Loss-minimization expenditure will also be indemnified up to the value of the indemnifiable loss of profit which has been avoided in this way. cost of electricity.e. the projected sum insured for the entire indemnity period must also be specified in addition to the one-year sum insured.e. In high-rise construction. office or computer capacities. However. In view of the long time required for the construction of high-rise buildings. i. In other words.1. since he or his tenants cannot move into the new premises on schedule. 86 HEAVY PLANT IN USE DURING FOUNDATION WORK . the principal’s possible losses are not limited solely to the lost profit from letting or leasing the high-rise building. care should be taken to ensure that all the plant and machinery is insured and not just such highly exposed plant as cranes and scaffolding.

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5.1.4 Decennial liability insurance This special form of cover for buildings originated in France. In accordance with the Napoleonic Code, all buildings are insured against total or partial collapse for a period of ten years (hence the term “decennial”) following their completion, provided that the loss is attributable to a defect or fault in the performance of one of the parties involved in construction during the construction phase. This form of long-term cover has only become established in a few markets and is normally limited to buildings, including high-rise buildings. The scope of cover varies. The commonest extended cover includes leaks in underground levels, facades and the roof, which can prove problematical due to the frequently unknown long-term performance of seals and the highly complex, cost-intensive repairs. A distinction is made between countries, such as France, in which this cover is obligatory and markets which only offer this form of cover in isolated cases. Technical inspection of the construction work by an independent inspection agency or engineering office is normally essential before decennial liability cover can be granted. The availability of such cover is dependent on this agency or office having submitted a satisfactory final report stating that it has no reservations as regards the stability of the high-rise building. The principal is the insured party and also beneficiary in the event of a loss. However, the insurer can also seek recourse from contractors, subcontractors and suppliers if they can be held liable for the loss. Due to the long period of liability, insurers must make adequate provisions with regard to administration and when carrying forward reserves. 5.1.5 Insurance of buildings, fire insurance For property insurers, insurance of high-rise buildings is nothing unusual in terms of designing the policy. As in the case of “normal” buildings, the policy is designed along the lines of industrial or commercial insurance for buildings and sometimes also of insurance for residential buildings. A distinction is merely made between two essential forms of cover:

This basic cover is normally extended accordingly with additional inclusions in line with individual requirements, such as – natural hazards: earthquakes, floods, windstorm, landslides, hail, volcanic activity, snow pressure, avalanches; – political risks: strikes, riots and civil commotion, sabotage, possibly terrorism; – other perils: impact of vehicles, water damage, sprinkler leaks, glass breakage, malicious damage, graffiti.

Policyholders in a number of markets are increasingly demanding all-risks policies for high-rise buildings as well. This form of cover includes all of the risks under one policy which are not explicitly excluded. Although these policies offer the policyholder extensive insurance cover, they must be examined with particular care by the underwriter. Calculation of the premiums is no longer transparent in these cases, since the extensive scope of cover may tend to “veil” the insured perils. A distinction must also be made from one country to the next with regard to the scope of liability. Such political risks as terrorism and sabotage, for instance, may be included in an all-risks policy without additional premium in some countries, but excluded from the standard cover in others on account of local claims experience. Inclusions from non-property classes, such as third-party liability and machinery breakdown insurance, are also increasingly to be found in all-risks covers. The owner of a high-rise building and its users or tenants are frequently separate and distinct legal entities with different policyholders, i.e. the owner for the building as such and the tenant for its contents and furnishings. For the insurer, this may result in exposure to accumulation, which must be taken into account accordingly. Depending on the purpose for which the building is used by its tenants, e.g. offices, computer centre, flats, hotels, possibly also commercial businesses (multi-occupancy building), the loss exposure can be quite substantial. In conclusion, from the insurer’s point of view high-rise buildings are exposed to the same risks as other residential and/or office buildings as far as the scope of cover is concerned; for this reason, they are not different from other risk groups with regard to insurability. Only the special characteristics of certain risk situations have a limited influence on pricing (see PML, loss prevention). The possibility of accumulation must be taken into account, however, when the building and its contents are insured separately. The policyholder’s primary interest is to obtain the most extensive insurance cover possible in return for a premium commensurate with the risk.

The model of named-perils cover is derived from the basic perils of fire, lightning strikes, explosions and crashes by manned flying objects or parts thereof or of their cargo. This form of cover allows the insurer a very good overview of the perils to be covered and ensures the transparency necessary for fixing prices.

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5.1.6 Loss of profit insurance Standard covers or customized insurance (on request) are offered for the loss of profit risks mentioned in Section 4.9. Loss of rent The high-rise building owner’s interest in steady income from rent is normally protected through loss-of-rent insurance. In accordance with the applicable General Terms and Conditions of Insurance (ABM 89), insurers in Germany will indemnify the insured loss of rent for the building specified in the insurance contract, as well as for other parts of the property which have been destroyed or damaged by specified perils. Where rented property has been destroyed or damaged, tenants are entitled by law or under the lease to refuse payment of part or all of the rent. The value insured is normally equal to the value of one year’s rent and the sum of ongoing ancillary costs for a period of one year. The loss of rent will be indemnified, at most, until the premises are reusable, regardless of official restrictions on restoration. If the tenancy ends on account of the damage and if the premises cannot be relet when restored even if due care and diligence have been exercised, then the loss of rent will be indemnified after this time until the premises have been relet, but at most for three months. Unless otherwise agreed, loss of rent is indemnified for a maximum of twelve months as from occurrence of the insured event. On Anglo-Saxon markets loss of rent can generally be covered as a supplementary item under insurance of buildings. However, coverage ends when the rooms are finally restored, i.e. reusable, regardless of any further loss of rent until a new tenant can be found. In such cases, the owners of high-rise buildings of the type described here are advised to take out loss of profit insurance corresponding precisely with the terms of the lease. This applies in particular to the period of indemnity until the entire establishment has been economically rehabilitated; agreements with terms of up to ten years are therefore entirely possible. Another advantage of loss of profit insurance is that it covers all additional costs, insofar as they actually reduce the threatened loss of rent. Such costs include, for example, additional expenditure for short-term emergency repairs, overtime for contractors’ employees and other trades, as well as special advertising measures taken to find new tenants. Additional costs On the other hand, it is also perfectly possible that if a business is favourably and strategically located in the high-rise building, the tenants may have decided on a long-term investment by concluding a lease over several years in order to protect their interests. The following circumstances may have to be taken into account: – The rental value of the premises at the time of the loss, and probably throughout the remaining term of the lease, is appreciably higher than the rent actually paid, with the result that the tenant must expect to pay more in order to rent comparable premises elsewhere. – Advance payments of the rent which have not yet been amortized and which, under the terms of the lease, need not be refunded in the event of a loss. – Improvements in the value of permanent fixtures and fittings which have been financed by the tenant, but which have not yet been amortized and which, according to statutory regulations, he cannot remove when vacating the premises following a loss. – Under the terms of the lease, the tenant is obliged to continue payment of all or part of the rent although the premises cannot be used on account of the loss. American insurers offer “leasehold interest coverage” to cover such eventualities. European insurers offering loss of profit insurance will indemnify the additional costs incurred to minimize the impending insured loss. Contingency planning The more exposed a skyscraper’s position as a regional attraction and the more special the fixtures and fittings in the rented premises, the greater the business-interruption risk, for it will probably be very difficult and exceedingly expensive to relocate business operations to suitable alternative premises. The survival of a company may often depend on detailed and regular reviews to assess the feasibility of such contingency plans which would be triggered by a potentially catastrophic loss. Although loss of profit insurance can indemnify financial expenditure for a calculated period of time, it cannot compensate for the loss of contact with key customers, a situation which could easily be averted by adequate contingency planning. The results of such perfect planning were demonstrated following the bomb attacks on the Commercial Union building in London on 10th April 1992 and the World Trade Center in New York in February 1993. Prevention of access Loss of profit insurance (business interruption, additional costs, etc.) can be extended to cover other risks, including the risk of a company being dependent on external operations, institutions and special circumstances. Physical damage on the underground levels (garages) or approach roads to a high-rise building due to fire, explosion, earthquake or flooding can lead to at least temporary closure of the entire building complex. Although the


intended use. In such cases. they can expect profits to be affected in different ways – unless they have appropriate insurance (prevention-of-access insurance).e. Particularly high standards are therefore imposed with regard to the skill and experience of the planning engineer. The high technical requirements to which engineers and contractors are subject in the construction of a high-rise building naturally also pose a special challenge for the liability insurer in terms of recording.Page 147 5 Insurance offices. The geological conditions on site play an important part on account of the considerable load concentrations. by engineering offices which act as general contractor. erection and execution of the work. loss or damage to the high-rise building as such. a customized property policy is advisable with correspondingly higher limits of indemnity which should also be available separately. SCOPE OF COVER losses should only be included if the designer and site manager have no interests in the widest possible sense in the delivery. American standard policies permit claims for damages for up to two weeks in such cases. assessing and underwriting such risks. If soil analyses are performed by the designing engineer himself or if he is contractually responsible for selecting. etc.g. 87 DANGEROUS WORKPLACE . then he may be liable for the consequences of inadequate soil analyses as well as for incorrect soil analyses during the planning phase. possibly floods) – Surrounding area (e. public roads: damage due to falling parts) – Planning period – Particular circumstances aggravating the risk (e.2. which is not covered by the liability policy. RISK ASSESSMENT The scope of cover under professional indemnity insurance for civil engineers basically corresponds to the generally applicable professional indemnity insurance for architects and construction engineers. the number of casualties and fatalities is likely to be very high. the liability policy should be limited to the second essential scope of cover. instead of an annual policy for twelve consecutive months. Only then is it possible to distinguish between a claim for damages based on fault on the one hand and a claim for performance and warranty. object Every high-rise building could be considered a prototype on account of such different parameters as location. height.g. closely built-up city centres. noise) 5. The most important scope of cover relates to the so-called object loss. employing and possibly supervising a geologist. Technical know-how is also required of the liability insurer so that these difficult planning risks can be assessed and rated. facade elements) – Effect of construction work on the neighbourhood (shadows. third-party liability risks are also to be expected during the construction of high-rise buildings. In the case of larger projects. insofar as such loss or damage is attributable to an error for which the planner is responsible.2. poor television reception. wind. groundwater conditions and natural hazards to be taken into account in the planning (earthquakes. The product liability risk of the manufacturers of the individual construction elements will not be discussed further here. The term of the object policy generally covers the planning and construction phase up to final acceptance of the construction work with a period of secondary liability of between two and five years as agreed. namely third-party losses (bodily injury and physical losses).1 Insurance of the designer’s risk A planning engineer or office can obtain professional indemnity insurance to cover the liability risks associated with planning and site management. i. This particular risk of bodily injury is due to the fact that the workers often have to work at dizzying heights and if a fire breaks out in the high-rise building. use of new materials. have not suffered any property loss as such. However. Insurance cover is provided for all statutory claims for damages from errors and omissions by the insured in the discharge of his precisely defined responsibilities. A distinction must be made between liability risks during planning and construction and those during occupancy of the high-rise building. The following criteria in particular must be taken into account when assessing the risk: – Qualifications and experience of the policyholder – Number of partners and number of engineers involved in the project – Total fees – Contract price – Responsibilities and liabilities accepted – Construction method applied (Does it reflect the latest scientific and technical findings? Have any comparable projects already been completed?) – Particular geological conditions. on the other. This condition is not met..2 Third-party liability insurance As can be seen from what has been said so far. for example. Such independence is only feasible with freelance engineering offices which have no financial or personnel links to the contracting companies and suppliers. 5.2 Insurance of the construction risk The specific liability risk of the contractor responsible for construction of a high-rise building lies firstly in the risk of injury to his own employees (employers’ liability). choice of materials and natural hazards. 5. shops.

with dense traffic and narrow streets. it is standard practice for all companies to agree on a single policy with a uniform limit of indemnity. as may be assumed for highrise construction. analogous to the procedure outlined above for the contracting companies. An additional third-party liability policy known as the contractors’ excess liability (CEL) policy can be concluded if higher indemnity limits are desired. From the insurance point of view. blasting.5 Insurance Page 148 Secondly. they are treated as if they each had their own policy. but also numerous other contractors (main and ancillary construction trades). What are the problems associated with an insurance solution employing a common project policy for all contractors involved in the construction work? Since the principal is the policyholder and some of the principal’s claims against contractors/designers are also included in the insurance. Two alternatives can be chosen in such cases: either the limit of indemnity in the annual policy is increased for the particular object in return for a correspondingly higher premium or separate liability insurance is concluded. it may also be necessary to lower the groundwater table. tramways. there is also another possible variation: high-rise construction involves not only the general contractor. Interruptions to traffic can lead to consequential financial losses. the extensive foundation work and construction of the underground levels make it necessary to excavate deep pits. only subsidiary to higherranking basic covers. which often reach below the groundwater table. however. driving underpasses – Contractor’s experience – Construction period. However. it is important to appraise the potential degree of bodily injury losses within the framework of employers’ liability and particularly the possible third-party losses to the direct surrounding area as a result of falling parts. as well as bodily injury to road/rail users and local residents. for instance on account of the particularly exposed nature of the risk. albeit usually with considerably lower indemnity limits and. where justified. Falling parts or crashing scaffolding and cranes can cause physical damage to nearby main traffic arteries (urban motorway. large or small. Cover is occasionally also extended to include the risk of independent planners (property loss and third-party liability). the indemnity limits of the third-party liability insurance section are subject to certain limitations. In both policies. tools or even partial collapse of the high-rise building. The following aspects must be taken into account in particular: – Contract price – Number of site employees and total payroll – Responsibilities and liability accepted – Construction methods and schedule – Location. neighbourhood – Particular geological conditions – Lowering of the groundwater table. The risk of subsidence.3 Insurance of the operational risk When the construction work is complete and the high-rise building has finally been taken into service. the latter are then deemed to be insured persons. it is also standard practice to agree that the individual companies must take out their own liability insurance with certain minimum limits and that this liability insurance takes precedence over the joint project policy. maintenance period. However. railway lines) or to adjacent buildings. the risks depend on the location of the high-rise building. Depending on the type of retaining wall used.2. tailored to the individual project in question. The policyholder is frequently the principal who takes out the policy on behalf of the contractors (third-party account). as it will normally be located in a city centre. surrounding area. the problem is mitigated by the surplus function in that claims for damages are first examined and. In practice. underpinning. CAR or EAR policies include the possibility of insuring the third-party liability risk of all contractors involved in the construction work under Section II. underpinning and driving underpasses can often prove more expensive. SCOPE OF COVER The normal limits of indemnity are usually insufficient for such major projects or particularly exposed risks. RISK ASSESSMENT When assessing the risk. ground motion and even shear failures resulting from such work must be assessed with particular care due to the risk of major losses. . The principal’s risk can also be included from the outset. the latter alternative has the advantage that this limit of indemnity is available exclusively for this one project. Indemnity under the project policy would only kick in thereafter. it is taken over by the operator or principal. however. who is consequently responsible for all losses suffered by third parties through the operation of the high-rise building. For the insured. Moreover. also settled by the insurers of the mutually independent basic covers. This operational risk would be covered by the usual insurance for homeowners and property owners: it protects the owner in his capacity as owner and lessor of the high-rise building. this means that there is – at least formally – a certain degree of cover for first-party losses. Damage to adjacent buildings as a result of lowering the groundwater table or damage due to ground motion as a result of piledriving. This highlights the particular risk of a major loss during the construction phase of a high-rise building. In order to obtain uniform and adequate insurance cover for all contractors. thus eliminating the risk of limits in the annual policy being exhausted by losses on other projects. The project policy thus takes the form of a surplus cover. period of secondary liability 5.

such as fire-resistant construction practice. . When estimating the PML of “normal” risks. fire protection). we base our assessments on complexes. safety and fire-protection schedules. Depending on local conditions.2 Decennial liability insurance The same considerations basically also apply to decennial liability insurance. On the other hand. The measures required for active and passive fire protection should not lead to any reduction in the PML. The most commonly occurring losses will be personal accidents on improperly serviced stairs or elevators and bodily injury due to falling objects. as they usually comprise only one complex. 5. particularly if it is open to the public. except that here fire is replaced by the fairly rare risk of collapse. we do not believe that it is right to specify flat-rate percentages of the sum insured as the PML for high-rise buildings. These include regular servicing and maintenance of elevators. 5. Three forms of building must be taken into account here: – small dot-like layout/towering building. CO2 or inert-gas fire-extinguishing equipment – Efficiency of the fire brigade These points are not considered to be factors which reduce the PML because they occasionally fail when the insured event occurs. this was essentially due to other reasons and not primarily to the impossibility of repair.g.2. The premium is normally calculated on the basis of the gross annual rent value. a deduction for the often extensive and expensive foundation measures can be justified when assessing the parts at risk. the fire PML is the most important element during operation of a high-rise building.e. as well as fire procedures should be inspected by the insurer when underwriting a third-party liability policy for the owner and lessor of a high-rise building. such as wall hydrants. Experience has shown that the total loss of a high-rise building is highly improbable. the owner is only liable for causes within his sphere of responsibility. since these foundation measures are not exposed to fire. is that we – unlike many other companies – do not take account of the existing fire-protection facilities and precautions in our PML estimate. since some of these measures only become fully effective when the building is finished. We believe that an individual approach is required which takes into account the following criteria: – Form of the building – Construction practice – Internal layout – Facade design High-rise buildings are frequently erected on a podium with one or more levels. also in the case of a high-rise building. What is important.Page 149 5 Insurance The main risk lies inside the building. 5.4.3). it is important to establish whether a fire breaking out in the podium can spread to the rest of building or whether this is prevented by protected fire-resistant separations. the relevant maintenance. However. Structural fire-protection measures. however. – flat slice-like building (length of the building equals at least three times its width).1 Construction phase As is usual for all major projects. fire-resistant sealing and fire compartments (see Section 4. sprinkler systems. With major projects. the probable maximum loss (PML) must be estimated separately for each of the risk phases. 5.3. fire will normally be considered a peril relevant to the risk and therefore form the basis for the PML estimate. the PML estimate should be based on a separate assessment of the risk. at best.3. safety and control facilities. – large sprawling layout (base area in square metres equals at least 50 times the height of the building in metres). the total income from rent. When estimating the PML. with due regard to the conditions surrounding the risk and based on conservative estimates. on the other hand. the total sum insured was not paid as indemnification in these cases. as well as compliance with statutory regulations or official requirements (e. The following are disregarded in particular: – Manual and automatic fire detection systems – Fire-extinguishing equipment.2.2). Although fires resulting in total demolition of the high-rise building are known to have occurred (see Section 4. exposure to windstorm. nor to define a certain number of floors as determining the PML. This explains why fixed percentages are not specified here. Moreover. but this is not possible in the case of high-rise buildings.3 Operating phase From an underwriting point of view. can be considered as PML-reducing factors. as is sometimes done. i.3. earthquakes and natural hazards may also be of relevance for the PML estimate during the construction phase. For this reason. so that an assumed PML of 100% should remain the exception. The PML for a given risk refers to the probable maximum loss which must be expected if the event occurs.3 Problem of maximum loss Due to the high concentration of values. In the case of high-rise buildings. it may also be advisable in view of the limited capacity available worldwide to introduce a limit of indemnity in order to facilitate placement of the risk.



but this ratio has now changed to 30:70 on account of the more complex building services and more extensive wiring in modern buildings. It is perfectly conceivable that trained experts. particularly as regards its fire resistance. A fire must be expected to spread from one floor to the next if the window glazing is not fire-resistant and if the flashover distance between the windows on consecutive floors is too short. the loss must be expected to be in the region of 40–100% due. is that a car bomb containing a large charge of explosives will be detonated in an underground car park or in the immediate vicinity of the high-rise building. The finishing work must be taken to include all nonbearing inner and outer walls including panelling. The extent of the destruction is consequently a matter of chance and therefore hard to estimate. if only on account of statutory requirements with regard to the length of rescue routes. it is useful to consider the building’s supporting structure and its finishings separately. on the other hand. In the past. 5. If these construction codes are known to have been violated or if there are any doubts in respect of compliance. If the partition walls have been correctly designed and dimensioned. In the case of the finishings. however. all doors. the percentage PML must be highest in the first and lowest in the third group. The major earthquakes experienced in recent years caused such extensive damage to high-rise buildings as to make repair impossible (Mexico City. Older buildings and particularly buildings with “soft storeys” (see Section 4. the combustibility of the materials used and the fire-resistance period of the parts must also be considered. increased costs of working due to conditions imposed by the authorities and price rises during the restoration period. there is little point in specifying such a PML. the PML for the contents must be taken as a cumulative figure when estimating the PML. such covered items as cleanup and demolition costs. subdivision into fire compartments is more likely.4 Accumulation control This problem must be considered above all in conjunction with the perils windstorm. A bomb attack is the most effective terrorist attack. earthquake and fire primarily in respect of buildings covered by CAR. The same applies to windstorm. could be used for the “most effective” result. among other things. The risk of fire spreading is even more serious if the building includes an atrium. it was common to do a 50:50 split on supporting structure and finishings. EAR or fire policies.3. What is more likely. What has been said above must be considered one possible approach for estimating the PML and not as an algorithm. volcanic activity and other natural hazards in regions exposed to these particular risks. special attention must be paid to “multi-occupancy buildings” (see Section 5.4) were worst affected. An office block in an industrial complex will undoubtedly be a less likely target for terrorists than a city-centre office tower. Kobe). Contents require similar consideration to interior finishings. depending on its type. then a PML of 100% should also be assumed for earthquakes. Experience has shown that considerably less than 50% of the supporting structure of a high-rise building will be damaged by fire. the policyholders usually being the building’s users or tenants.5 Insurance Page 152 The probability that entire floors will be gutted by fire is highest in the case of the first group of buildings. since numerous different criteria must be taken into account separately in each case. and this should reduce the loss per floor still further. since the resultant chimney effect also has to be considered. it is therefore important to establish whether modern anti-seismic construction codes exist and whether they were also applied to the high-rise building under consideration. After surveying the building. such as specialists in the use of explosives. as we would not like to consider terrorism a “probable” event. When estimating the PML. If cover for terrorism cannot be excluded for reasons of market policy in a country with high exposure to terrorism. It is necessary to adopt a country-specific approach to this issue. it is impossible to give any precise estimate of a loss due to terrorism and the PML would always have to be set at 100%. must be added to the PML. . How appropriate is it to specify a terrorism PML for highrise buildings? In our point of view. Earthquake exposure must also be taken into account for the PML during the operational phase. The facade design is a very important factor for vertical propagation of the fire and consequently for the PML.5). If the building is insured together with its contents. Regardless of the form of the building. such specialists can easily position their bomb or bombs in such a way that it will cause the entire building to collapse. a lower percentage loss may therefore be assumed per floor.1. floor coverings and ceilings. Once again. An even larger number of fire compartments is to be expected with the third group of buildings. So far. to damage caused by smoke and fire-fighting water. Its contents are normally insured separately. The characteristics of the supporting structure and of floors as well as the fire-resistant elements protecting the openings to stairwells and elevator or service shafts are important in this respect. then it is perfectly appropriate to assess the PML at 100% of the sum insured. With the second group. also taking account of the building’s location and occupancy. When estimating the earthquake PML in regions exposed to this risk. Going purely by the form of the building. The highest percentage losses are suffered by the supporting structure and finishings in the first group of buildings and the lowest by those of the third group. all building service installations and elevators. we have only considered the building as such. windows. In addition. There have been sufficient examples of such cases in the recent past. Moreover. These are normally first-loss risk items which should be included 100%.

4 Underwriting considerations Different construction methods. only approximate rates can be specified for insuring the construction and operational phases of high-rise buildings. highly commercial influences prevailing in the various markets. with “named perils” and “all risks” as the two main forms of cover. This applies particularly to high-rise buildings over 500 m. It therefore follows that the construction practice and standard of protection must be considered individually. since they are firmly connected to the shell on the outside or are located inside the high-rise building. possible lowering of the groundwater table – Layouts. finishing) – Schedule of construction work. The waiver of a deductible is prescribed by law in some markets. despite the availability of statistical analyses extending over many years.4. limits of indemnity or exclusions. it has also drawn attention to the need for accumulation control and issued corresponding explanations. the terms. In addition to the premium. longitudinal and transverse sections of the building in different planes. the premium rate can range between 5‰ and 15‰ for the ten-year period. the standard of protection applying when the highrise building was erected may well be far below the standards required today. All the criteria listed in Section 4. as their exposure to windstorm has not yet been sufficiently investigated. the principal must also bear the costs of technical inspections. 5. The following documentation should normally be available: – General drawing and layout plan of the site with an overview of the immediate surroundings – Technical details concerning the construction method. the number and period in use of the highly exposed cranes must be taken into account in addition to the scope of cover. As far as the natural hazards windstorm.1 Contractors’ and erection all risks insurance When determining the premium rate. facade connections).g. specified here on account of the considerable scope for variation and additional. As the cases outlined in Section 4. the market situation and scope of cover. fire insurance As with all risks. The respective loss accumulation zones and corresponding loss potential are then determined for these catastrophes.3 Decennial liability insurance The level of premium rates for this cover is also largely dependent on the specific market. the long term of this cover should be taken into account when determining the amount of excess. We will gladly answer any queries from our clients on such issues.Page 153 5 Insurance This naturally only applies to areas or cities with a corresponding concentration of values in the property insurers’ portfolios. Where the deductible is concerned.4. structural works. For this reason.4 Insurance of buildings. Elevators for transporting materials to great heights are less exposed to loss. earthquake and flooding are concerned. as a rule. 5.5 apply.2. and when using inadequately tested materials and construction methods. 5.3 have shown. finishing) must be taken into account in the same way as the proportion of temporary auxiliary structures (e. quality of the risk and price are components which must be taken into account when underwriting high-rise buildings. the statements made in Section 5. Premium rates are not .4.2.2 Contractors’ plant and machinery When determining the premium rate. Munich Re has already stated its views on this subject in a number of publications.4 must be considered in order to determine the quality of the risk. Under no circumstances should the underwriter assume that all statutory measures have been taken or that the quality of the risk is satisfactory simply because of compliance with the regulations. Where the terms are concerned and particularly in conjunction with the scope of cover. the values currently at risk in the respective exposure zones or specific catastrophe scenarios are determined using computer-aided data analyses. Particular attention must be paid to 5.g. it must be possible to calculate the risk by including suitable special terms.g. particularly in conjunction with regularly recurring natural phenomena (e. retaining walls) and their exposure during use. progress made and materials used – Breakdown of the contract price according to the most important parts (foundations. different finishings and the exposure to external influences demand careful analysis of the resultant risks. details of the most important structural parts (e. different degrees of exposure during construction of the high-rise building (foundations. however.1. For this reason. If necessary. The premium rates required for underwriting are determined on the basis of an assessment of these documents and of the structural analyses. structural works at underground levels/floors above ground. monsoon) – Expert report on soil conditions – Description of the foundation method. difficult soil conditions and the exposure to windstorm due to structural reasons or progress in construction must also be taken into account in addition to the long time frequently required for the construction work. these costs vary in line with the size and complexity of the project. 5. retaining wall.4.


insurance of the building. i. The lead it has built up globally over the decades in terms of experience and information is based on extensive databases. professional competence. Munich Re is optimally positioned to meet these challenges.e. liability accumulations can be determined and updated more easily and precisely.1. our specialists can actively participate in inspections.g. This is indeed the case with skyscrapers of record-breaking heights and sums insured due to the high fire PML or the risk of earthquakes or windstorm in areas particularly prone to such hazards. Claims experience and local exposure play a vital role in pricing. The same also applies to all-risks covers. flooding. During the period of cover. 89 EXTERIOR HOIST . such as Japan or California. loss prevention or settlement of complex losses. On account of the different forms of cover. all of which are linked online to the head office. Above all. earthquake. provided that the necessary conditions have been met for the individual classes (contractors’ all risks. The type of limits to be speci- fied in the classes concerned should be decided in accordance with individual requirements. The quality of the risk is naturally also reflected in the price. provide further information or outline possible solutions in connection with reinsurance and our range of services. This enables us to advise prospective clients on assessing risk. General statements cannot be made here with regard to the price. e. appropriate protective measures or generally “good” quality of the risk will result in a correspondingly lower premium rate. With the help of modern computer-based tools. This is particularly true of insurance markets marked by high investment and growth. however. as well as sprinkler protection commensurate with the risk. decennial liability insurance. Comprehensive geo-scientific and underwriting analyses of these data by experts at Munich Re’s head office and in the engineering offices around the world ensure that natural hazards and loss potential can be reliably assessed.Page 155 5 Insurance structural fire protection. We will gladly answer any queries by our clients. third-party liability insurance and fire insurance (as described in detail in the preceding sections) and that the risk is properly assessed in line with the respective policy. as do commercial considerations. special attention being devoted to the exclusions (see Section 5. Even in these extreme cases. the main thing is to ensure that the policies in question are allocated to the appropriate classes. windstorm. erection all risks.g. it will therefore be necessary to introduce a limit of liability which makes the risk more manageable and easier to calculate. hail. the risks due to supplementary perils. and determining and providing the required reinsurance capacity. Higher shares can therefore be written in the case of “good” risks. the latest data can be rapidly made available to the insurers. Although quantitative statements cannot be made. This is particularly important in countries or regions which are constantly exposed to natural hazards. In the case of extended basic cover. However. where comprehensive insurance cover is provided for a large number of high-rise buildings in an area of intense seismic activity and where there is consequently a substantial accumulation risk. the premium calculation also has to take into account supplementary perils such as natural hazards and political risks on the basis of individual loss exposure. Special need for reinsurance may arise. innovativeness and ultimately also adequate capacity combined with long-term financial strength. fire insurance.5). in other words. must naturally also be taken into account in the underwriting. 5. The benchmark has been raised in terms of what insurers require and expect of reinsurers. limits of liability also facilitate matters for insurers and reinsurers. premium rate. this will also ensure that the available underwriting capacity can be fully utilized. Extensive know-how and the courage to take innovative steps make it possible for our specialists to provide our clients with professional support in developing new concepts for cover or new insurance products. the demand for adequate insurance cover is and was satisfied by insurers and reinsurers working together as partners. In some cases. market experience. Experienced underwriters are available to our clients at more than 45 business units and subsidiaries in our international organization. even reinsurers with the soundest financial backing cannot accept unlimited liability. engineering insurance. third-party liability insurance). In addition. especially with regard to know-how. defining the terms of insurance. The same also applies with regard to decennial cover for such risks. there should be no particular problems in reinsuring individual high-rise buildings. The need to insure these risks will normally exceed the capacity of the local insurance market. water damage and glass breakage. in the case of individual major high-rise-building risks and extensive accumulation risks resulting from the concentration of numerous high-rise buildings within a small area. the probability and frequency of a loss occurring and the amount of loss to be expected will be lower if the quality of the risk is “good” than in the case of inadequately protected buildings. however.5 Reinsurance In the majority of cases. e.

6 Summary and outlook 6 .

however. ohne den Aushubvorgang zu beeinträchtigen. thanks to our worldwide know-how and long-standing experience. daß die Gesamtfläche aller Geschosse über Straßenniveau maximal das Zwölffache der Grundstücksfläche betragen darf. wodurch dieser gegen Materialeinbruch stabilisiert wird. das das Mehrfache seines Gewichts an Wasser absorbieren kann und dabei auf das 8–15fache seines Volumens anschwillt. Most of the statements made here. Das zweitgrößte Bauwerk ist der Fernsehturm von Moskau mit 537 m. 1 Die Bezeichnung höchstes Bauwerk der Welt beansprucht zur Zeit der Fernsehturm von Toronto. will continue to apply to future high-rise buildings. Advance loss of profit. Es bildet an den Wänden des Schlitzes eine Schicht. and therefore by the time this publication appears in print some of the technical details described here may already have been superseded by research. 2 3 4 5 . . der neben dem Ontariosee 553 m in den Himmel ragt. Weitere Details sind in unserer Brandschutztafel nachzulesen. we as insurers and reinsurers will continue to devote our attention to these projects in the new millennium.Page 157 6 Summary and outlook The historical and technical development of high-rise buildings as seen from the point of view of insurers and reinsurers has been outlined in the individual sections of this publication. development does not stand still. progress and the pressure of costs. particularly in Asia. we will be able to offer our clients solutions in line with the specific risks involved. We are also confident that. Needless to say. Eine Geschoßflächenzahl von 12 bedeutet. Bentonit ist ein spezielles Tonmineral. Despite certain reservations and all economic bottlenecks. For this reason. the quest to reach for the sky and erect higher and higher buildings goes on.

Chicago Empire State Building. Visum. J. Becker. New York San Gimignano Monadnock Building The Tower of Babel Equitable Life Building Home Insurance Building New York panorama HongkongBank Headquarters Building. Bressard Top: Werkfoto BASF Bottom: Bauer Spezialtiefbau Munich Re Büro X Forster and Partners. Schrobenhausen Munich Re Bauer Spezialtiefbau. Hong Kong Messeturm. Essen Munich Re Pacific Century. Wolf action press. A. Berlin Museum City of New York Philipp Holzmann. Bangkok Meridien President Tower. C. A. G. SABA-Laif. Malaysia Sears Tower. Guangzhou New York New York: view from the World Trade Center New York Fire in the Broadgate Building. in Munich Facade assembly Ceiling installation Double flooring Elevator in the World Trade Center. fire in the Garley Building Towering inferno Picture credits Image Bank. Riedmüller Library of Congress AKG. Frankfurt am Main Petronas Towers. M. Wolf Munich Re. New York La Grande Arche. London Munich Re Anzenberger./Pacific Century Publishers Ltd. Hong Kong Photonica. Paris Canary Wharf. Eber Bilfinger & Berger Bauer Spezialtiefbau. Becker Visum. Eber Munich Re Munich Re Munich Re Munich Re Munich Re Bangkok Post Munich Re Bangkok Post South China Morning Post Munich Re .. Würzburg Visum. New York Messeturm in Frankfurt am Main Additional heat recovery via piling foundations in the Commerzbank high-rise building Fully automated building site Jin Mao Building Shanghai Pudong New York China. Becker HongkongBank Werkfoto HOCHTIEF. Image Bank. Anzenberger. G. 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 Title Manhattan. Kleiner Munich Re Minimax Munich Re Munich Re Munich Re Munich Re Büro X Pressestelle BMW A. New York Details from planning documents Extract from a technical report Opening in an apartment complex Large-bore pile foundation process Various stages in the diaphragm wall process Diaphragm wall rotary cutter Retaining wall to protect neighbouring buildings View of a building pit with completed retaining wall Examples of high-rise buildings with steel skeletons Deformation and bending momentum due to wind with the core construction method Background: Commerzbank Building Deformation and bending momentum due to wind with the outrigger truss method Examples of core construction methods and bundled tubes Varying load distribution with tubes and bundled tubes Example of the arrangement of bundled tubes Steel skeleton View from the headquarters building/Headquarters of BMW A. M.Picture credits Page 158 Page Cover 6 7 9 10 10 10/11 12 12 13 15 16 18 19 20 23 27 28 29 30 30 32/33 34 34 36/37 38 38 39 39 40 41 41 43 44 47 47 50 51 51 52 52 55 56/57 58/59 60/61 62/63 64/65 66/67 69 71 72/73 74/75 76/77 76/77 78/79 80/81 82/83 87 88 90/91 92/93 94/95 96/97 98 100 101 102 Picture No. London Traditional and modern buildings in peaceful co-existence Chrysler Building. Sioen Visum. Mero. A. P. New York Elevator demonstration by Otis Maintenance Renovation of a high-rise building Pile-driving machinery for working in basement floors Petronas Tower Trend towards ever-taller modern high-rise buildings The Millennium Tower – a vision for the 3rd millennium Petronas Towers. J. B. Arthur Selbach Image Bank. REA/Sinopix Image Bank. G. Frommer Munich Re Munich Re Munich Re. Kuala Lumpur Hong Kong skyline Flatiron Building. Langrock Minimax Obayashi Corporation. increased risk of fire during the final fit-out phase Difficult fire-fighting conditions in the Meridien President Tower Combustible waste increases risk of fire Limited evacuation routes through smoke-filled stairways Hong Kong. Kuala Lumpur. Schrobenhausen Munich Re. Frankfurt a. Loccisano Picture Press. REA/P. Schrobenhausen Bauer Spezialtiefbau. Japan Shanghai Educational Publishing House Airphoto International Ltd. Röttger Laif. A. M. Munich Munich Re Top: Munich Re Bottom: Fa. Michael Wolf Left: Otis Right: Laif. B. London: sunken roof support beams Fire-protection information Escalator destroyed by fire Fire in the Meridien President Tower. Hubert Munich Re Munich Re Laif. Emmler. J.

v.com E-mail: info@munichre. W. Seidlein J. J. A. New York Universität Stuttgart Technik am Bau (Periodical) Schriften zur Architektur der Gegenwart Prestelverlag Strakosch Geo 3/96 Bertelsmann Verlag Author Gossel/Leuthäuser Lampugnani Goldberger (1984) DVA Stuttgart Issue 8/86. Part 4 Elevators and Escalators Erdbebenprognose Facility Management 1/95 Fassadengestaltung Fire Letter No. USA Heavy plant in use during foundation work Dangerous workplace World Trade Center. Kleiner Bottom: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. Hamburg Order number 2840-V-e The paper used for this brochure was produced without chlorine bleaching. La Grande Arche Marvels of Engineering Massivbau Vertiefungsvorlesungen Messeturm Frankfurt a. Messeturm Frankfurt a. Eissing-Kister Bottom: HOCHTIEF/Landis & Gyr HongkongBank Top: Munich Re. Kleiner Top: Munich Re. Minimax. SABA Bauer Spezialtiefbau. G.com Design: Büro X. A. Evans Associated Press action press. MR Handbook “Water Damage Insurance” Preliminary Report on the Northridge Earthquake Schadenspiegel 1/84 Schadenspiegel 1/95 Schadenspiegel. Munich Re Munich Re. Crowell. Gebhard Munich Re Picture credits References Title Architektur des 20. New York Charles Scribner's Sons. Schmidt Dumont Verlag Harper & Row. New York Exterior hoist Munich Re Top: HongkongBank. Jahrhunderts Architektur und Städtebau des 20. F.Page 159 Wooden panels on a glass facade destroyed by a car-bomb attack/Interior view of one floor 103 106 106 109 112 112 113 116 116 117 119 120 120 124/125 128/129 130/131 133 134 135 143 146 150/151 154 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 Difficult fire-fighting conditions Special coating on the steel skeleton guaranteeing adequate fire resistance Fire-detection system in the Messeturm in Frankfurt Atrium in a bank building Dynamic-pressure approaches: effects from friction impact wind speed Typhoon tracks for Japan and California Representation of wind impact on a building’s ground-bearing pressure Impact of earthquake loads on the centre of gravity 50 t and/or 90 t heavy dampers Effective arrangement of dampers in high-rise buildings Earthquake in Kobe. A. REA/Sinopix Laif. New York T. Architekturmuseum Frankfurt a. P. Schromm Munich Re. Gartner Munich Re Exhibition catalogue (1993–94) Tˆ ete Défense (1990) National Geographic J. Japan Corroded supply lines Tension crack in a crosslinked polyethylene pipe Blasting of a high-rise office building Interior of a high-rise building following a bomb attack Wooden panels on a glass facade destroyed by a car-bomb attack/Interior view of one floor Aircraft debris after a plane ploughed into the Empire State Building Aircraft crash onto a block of flats in Amsterdam Bomb attack on a federal government building in Oklahoma. . Jahrhunderts Das Hochhaus in Gegenwart und Geschichte DIN 1055. Jr. M. Special issue 1994 Skyscrapers Special publication “Earthquake Mexico ’85” Special publication “Windstorm” The Empire State Building The Skyscraper Book Tuned Active Dampers Wie man Wolken kratzt Wolkenkratzer – Ästhetik und Konstruktion Dr. Schlaich Kolodziejczyk J. Bründel action press. W. M. Giblin Mitsubishi Heavy Industries P. 24 Hongkong. Murphy Munich Re WSSI Munich Re Munich Re Munich Re Starrett Munich Re (1985) Munich Re (1990) Theodore James. M. Eber Commercial Union. New York Publisher Special publication “Earthquakes of the Caribbean Plate” Munich Re (1976) A publication of the Munich Reinsurance Company © 2000 Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft Address for letters: D-80791 München Germany http://www. Schromm Iduna Versicherung Munich Re. 5/89 John Wiley & Sons. Schrobenhausen Laif.munichre. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. Kleiner Bottom: Munich Re Munich Re. Y.

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