The Skyscraper
by VS '09


Throughout the history of architecture, there always was a continual quest for height. Before skyscrapers, there were towers made out of heavy stone. The towers had thick sturdy walls, but the rooms were to dark Dand cramped, and too many windows would have ruined its structure. Soon Gothic cathedrals joined the quest for height. Flying buttresses are long, stone arms that support the cathedral's heavy weight, allowing the walls to be filled with colorful glass windows. Sources-Thinking Big: Skyscraper Basics

During the early stages of urbanization, cities grew horizontally when they were overpopulated. Most buildings were only 4 or 5 stories high. As cities grew, taller buildings were needed to make better use of the land. In 1885 William Jenny invented the skyscraper. During the Industrial Revolution engineers began experimenting with iron and steel. Steel beam construction was created. The steel beams provided a skeleton for the building so that the walls wouldn't have to carry most of the building's weight. Skyscrapers have 2 main parts the foundation, which is the part below ground, and the superstructure, which is the part above ground. The first steel skyscraper was the Home Insurance Building in Chicago, Illinois supported by vertical columns and horizontal beams. Sources-Skyscrapers + Thinking Big: Skyscraper Basics + Encyclopedia Worldbook

Later on the elevator was invented allowing it possible to construct buildings more than 4 or 5 stories tall. Wind played a heavy role in the design of skyscrapers as they became higher and higher. Today's tallest skyscrapers, which are almost 1,500 feet tall, must be 50 times stronger against wind that the typical 200-foot buildings of 1940. Today's skyscrapers contain service areas which include corridors, stairs lobbies, elevators, and machine room. Plumbing systems have a water supply and drainage system. Air Conditioning systems run the temperatures in the skyscrapers. Electrical systems provide power and communication. The tallest skyscrapers in the world are the Petronas Towers located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with a height of 1,483 feet and 88 stories built in 1998. As time passes by we shall see new advances to the skyscrapers that we know today. Sources-Thinking Big: Skyscraper Basics + Encyclopedia Worldbook


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