Friday, 20 July 2012

Skyscrapers & How They Link Our Past to Our Future

What we build says a lot about us. Ever since the Egyptian pyramids and the Great Pyramid of Giza held the title of the tallest man-made structures for over 3,800 years, humans have been inspired to build iconic, record-breaking structures. Whether its the materials we use, the design and aesthetic, the style or even how tall a structure is, buildings are shaped by our culture. They show how we live, what matters to us, what we value and how we view ourselves. They connect our past to our present and future. Tall structures & buildings have always been a status symbol. In the 19th century, tall buildings reaching high into the clouds were constructed. These buildings were called skyscrapers. While there is not one definitive building that is known as the first skyscraper, there are several well-known buildings that have held the title of tallest building in the world. For forty years, the Empire State Building in New York City held the honor of being the tallest building in the world. In 1972, the World Trade Center North Tower surpassed the Empire State Building to hold the record briefly until Chicago’s Sears Tower won the title. The Sears Tower, now known as The Willis Tower held the honor for twenty-five years until the completion of the Petronas Towers in Maylasia. The Willis Tower is still the tallest building in the United States. Historically, skyscrapers were predominantly found in North America. In the past decade, however the majority of new skyscrapers were constructed in Asia and the Middle East. In fact, none of the top five tallest skyscrapers are located in North America anymore. What do the tallest buildings in the world tells us? As cities become more dense and developed, it makes sense to build vertically. At a certain point however, it makes less economic sense to build these mega skyscrapers. Record setting buildings may be more about ego and showing the world something than constructing a space that really works. The attacks on The World Trade Center Towers in 2001 are seen as an attack on the entire American culture. Skyscrapers represent the culture around them. Skyscrapers are iconic and become both a status symbol of their home city and part of the city’s personality. What inspires architects? Architects are inspired by what is happening culturally, economically and globally? For example, the design of the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower was inspired by an advertisement for cigarettes. Chances are, cigarettes would not inspire today’s architect. Our buildings can connect our present to our past. The design for the current tallest building in the world, the Burj Kharlifa, is derived from Islamic architecture patterning systems. Designing buildings that feature symbols or other significant representations give buildings more meaning by connecting our pasts to our present and future. The five tallest buildings in the world:
  1. Burj Khalifa
  2. Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel
  3. Taipei 101
  4. Shanghai World Financial Center
  5. International Commerce Centre
Lisa Hirst Carnes writes for a variety of blogs & companies including, the commercial construction firm, Shingobee Builders. Shingobee specializes commercial construction projects like hotel, casino, restaurant, office and community center construction.

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