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Jens Rendbk (Thierry) Mucunguzi rwagasore Hold 1 A421


We will be covering how skyscrapers have evolved since the early 1800s up until the modern age, and how the construction methods which are used, have been developed over the years.

What is a skyscraper?
A skyscraper is a tall, habitable building. There is no official definition or height above which a building may clearly be classified as a skyscraper. The word skyscrape was originally a nautical term referring to a small triangle sail set above the skysail on a sailing ship. The term was first applied to building of steel framed construction of at least 10 stores in the 19th century, a result of public amazement at the tall buildings being built in major cities like Chicago, New York , Detroit and St. Louis12

The first skyscrapers

Until the 19th century, buildings of over six stories were rare, as having great numbers of stairs to climb was impractical for inhabitants, and water pressure was usually insufficient to supply running water above 50m.12

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Jens Rendbk (Thierry) Mucunguzi rwagasore Hold 1 A421

The first steel frame skyscraper was the home insurance building built in Chicago in 1885, but some point to New Yorks Equitable Life Assurance Building, built in 1870, as an early skyscraper12 for its innovative use of a skeletal steel frame, but such designation depends largely on what factors are chosen.34 In 1864, the worlds first iron framed, glass curtain walled office building was Oriel Chambers in Liverpool and it was designed by the local architect Peter Ellis. In 1891, Louis Sullivans Wainwright building in St. Louis was the first steel framed building with soaring vertical brand to emphasize the height of the building and is therefore considered by some to be the first true skyscraper. Most early skyscrapers emerged in the land strapped areas of Chicago, London and New York toward the end of the 19 th century.34

Modern Skyscrapers
From the 1930s onwards, skyscrapers also began to appear in Latin America and in Asia. In the 1960s structural engineer Farlur Khan realized that the rigid steel frame structure that had dominated tall building design and construction for so long was not the only system fitting for tall buildings, marking the beginning of a new era of skyscraper revolution in terms of multiple structural systems.34

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Jens Rendbk (Thierry) Mucunguzi rwagasore Hold 1 A421

New York and Chicago were to become the focal point of the competition for the tallest building in the world. From the 1890s to the 1990s the development and construction of skyscrapers were primarily, located in either Europe or the United states. But in recent years, the construction of some of the worlds most innovative and tallest skyscrapers have been in either Dubai or Asia. This shift is mainly due to the fact that these countries were viewed as relatively poor during the 20th century, but in the last twenty years or so most of Asia become more wealthy, and therefore they wish to build skyscrapers, to show their economic power. Today skyscrapers are considered symbols of a citys economic power. Not only do they define the skyline, they help to define the citys identity 5

Construction methods
The construction of buildings which are tall enough to be called skyscrapers was impossible until the late 18th century due to both material, and mechanical limitations of the time. The main issue was developing a method which would allow buildings of a certain height to support their own weight, while still having a large amount of interior space. The first concept developed which would allow buildings to become taller was the steel frame, which basically is a giant box, with several smaller boxes inside it. The reason why this was the first durable concept, were because the design was simple and allowed more office space, and it56

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Jens Rendbk (Thierry) Mucunguzi rwagasore Hold 1 A421

had overall better support. This is because it is easier to place both horizontally and vertically supports though out the steel structure, compared to older techniques. Even as simple and clever this way of constructing skyscrapers is, it had drawbacks. One of the drawbacks were as the height of the building rises, the amount of supporting areas in the steel frame must be increased, forcing more material to be used in the lower parts of the building for support, which in turn will increase building costs, and decrease potential office space. Then In the 1960s another method was developed by a Fazlur Khan as stated earlier. This construction method was called the Tube Frame. The Tube Frame is basically a modified steel frame design, but instead of having one coherent steel structure, the tube frame consists of several smaller frames which are joined at their respective edges, to form one larger structure called a tube. The benefits of this method is the individual frames put together have the ability to handle much larger horizontal forces, like wind and vibrations then a normal steel frame. Due to this engineers can limit the amount of support needed for the whole building by not having to worry about horizontal support. This term means that less support columns are needed, which both mean less building material is needed and more office space become available. The Tube Frame has been used in most tall skyscrapers since the 1960s, simply because it is more cost-effective and creates more office space than Steel Frame designs.789

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Jens Rendbk (Thierry) Mucunguzi rwagasore Hold 1 A421

We have only covered a very small part of the history about skyscrapers, and were forced to limit it to only the most important events such as the first skyscraper and the development of the most common techniques used in construction. Overall we would have liked to go further into detail with this theme but due to time limitations it was not possible.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. What was the name of the engineer who developed the tube frame? What are the main differences between a Steel frame structure and a Tube frame structure? Around which year was the Tube Frame introduced to skyscraper design? When and where was the first skyscraper built? What was the highest building in the world in 1885? Why was building above six stories impractical before the 19th century? Around which decade did skyscrapers begin to appear in Latin America and Asia? Why are the biggest skyscrapers today built in Asia and Dubai?