In 1884 the very first skyscraper was built in Chicago, the high rise building barely broke through the clouds. Although not an engineering accomplishment by today’s standards, this building started the vital trend of building upwards in overpopulated cities. In this post we are going to take a look at how skyscrapers are built and through amazing feats of engineering how they keep growing taller, and transforming the way we live and work in cities across the world.
The early days.
The initial limitations of building a skyscraper were with the physical; special types of engineering had to be created to overcome the problems and restrictions of building up instead of out. For nearly 4000 years, the tallest structure man had created was the Great Pyramid at Giza, a structure that has a wide base working up to a high point. Building up this way was not going to be feasible in the densely packed streets of Chicago, (or any other city for that matter) a new way of building had to be developed.
Image: The Home Insurance Building in Chicago, built in 1884
In order to build a skyscraper, structural engineers had to develop an inner steel framework that was self-supporting and fireproof. In addition to this new way of building, many other components such as elevators, electrics and plumbing needed to be developed and implemented in order for the building to function. After these problems were solved it was only a matter or decades before enormous buildings such as the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings punctured our skylines.
A structural worker on a steel girder during the construction of the Empire State Building in 1930
Skyscrapers are now common place for virtually all of our major cities, the ability to build straight up has enabled more people to live and work in CBD’s than ever before. As structural engineers we are constantly in awe of the technology and ambition of architects today. Incredible structures such as The Shard in London, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (currently the tallest building in the world, standing at an unbelievable 828 meters!) and the Shanghai Tower in China are shaping our cities and skylines.
Not only are they engineering masterpieces but they offer luxury on a scale never before imagined. These buildings are no longer just functional, offering city dwellers a place to live and work, but they are a status symbol for countries across the globe.
It’s fair to say that the development of skyscrapers has impacted the way we live exponentially. We see the need for taller and taller structures as inevitable, and with this demand come new techniques in engineering.
None of these spectacular buildings would be standing if it wasn’t for structural engineers, whether it’s a skyscraper, basement conversion or a restoration GSE make the very best construction partner. Contact us today to find out how we can support you and your building.