One of the most distinct qualities of an urban city is skyscrapers. Seeing a skyscraper instantly reminds you of business and success. As such, an abundance of skyscrapers can indicate that a city is thriving economically.
Skyscrapers may look modern, but they date as far back as the Victorian Era. It was in 1884 when the first skyscraper was built in Chicago, Illinois. The tall building served as the headquarters for Chicago's Home Insurance. The booming insurance business was among the first to exploit the technology that made the construction of tall buildings possible.
But tall buildings, in general, have been around since the prehistoric period. The Great Pyramid of Giza, which was built around 2550 to 2490 B.C., stood at 145 meters high. Of course, that is no match to the height of towering skyscrapers today. But back then, a 145-meter tall structure was a marvel.
Today, the tallest building stands at 828 meters. It is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Shanghai Tower in China ranks second-tallest at 632 meters, and Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotels in Mecca follows at 601 meters.
Why Did We Build Skyscrapers?
The American technological revolution was in full swing from the 1880s through the 1890s. It triggered a burst of creativity among architects, helping them produce inventions after inventions. One of the most notable inventions in that period was Bessemer steel. It was formed into I-sections that enabled taller and more flexible frame designs than the cast iron.
As time went on, changes in urban life prompted the construction of more skyscrapers, called "tall office buildings" back then. Transportation also evolved from horse-drawn carriages to street trams, subways, and elevated rail systems. They helped transport hundreds of workers to a single urban location before private cars were invented.
Today, cities usually build skyscrapers as condominiums aside from offices. They help companies develop larger spaces without occupying as much land. But with all the earthquakes the world has gone through since the beginning of time, is it still necessary to build skyscrapers?
Should We Build Skyscrapers?
- Skyscraper Construction Is Demand-driven
If people didn't need tall buildings, companies would've stopped constructing them a long time ago. But the demand for skyscrapers persists. Skyscrapers fulfill our need to be close together in dense, urban areas. They allow industries to work closer together, too. Finance, business services, information technology, and others should be clustered to make their products efficient.
In addition, skyscrapers generate wealth that fuels the growth of a consumer-oriented city. They serve as avenues for cultural, entertainment, and social-based amenities. Hence, people associate them with a better life, making them look for more skyscrapers even if more than enough already exists.
- Skyscrapers Are Expensive to Build
The only factor that can hinder a company from building a skyscraper is the cost. In the U.S., the average skyscraper costs $550 million to build. It can go as high as $1 billion depending on the height, design, location, and engineering feats.
The average costs may or may not include site prep, equipment, and building permits yet. Excavating the site for the building's foundation can easily cost $100,000 to $450,000 per acre. Building permits can cost $1,000 to $5,000 per permit. The equipment costs vary depending on the type you need and the kind of building you'd make. Generally speaking, skyscrapers require the services of a crane rental company and other types of loaders and truckers. That could cost them a few hundred dollars more, though renting equipment can generate tax savings.
- Skyscrapers Have Safety Constraints
During an earthquake or fire, it's impossible to get out of a skyscraper quickly. But safety experts have been developing technologies to solve that problem. Moreover, engineering techniques now take disasters into account.
But not all builders abide by the latest safety standards, sadly. A skyscraper in China had to be stopped from building due to reports of unexplained wobbling and other safety issues. Thankfully, you wouldn't normally experience safety issues while inside a skyscraper. But the building's height can still warrant concerns. If skyscrapers all over the world are like Japan's, which earthquakes can't destroy, then we can feel more at ease inside tall buildings. Companies can keep building more of them, and we'd fear nothing.
Overall, new skyscrapers may not be completely necessary, but as long as the demand stays, we'll keep seeing more of them. What's more important is how companies make up for the environmental damage they leave because of skyscrapers. If they can plant more trees, reduce their carbon footprint, and contribute to eco-friendly urban transportation, then skyscrapers wouldn't be a destructive force in nature.