The design and construction of skyscrapers involves creating safe, habitable spaces in very tall buildings. The buildings must support their weight, resist wind and earthquakes, and protect occupants from fire. Yet they must also be conveniently accessible, even on the upper floors, and provide utilities and a comfortable climate for the occupants. The problems posed in skyscraper design are considered among the most complex encountered given the balances required between economics, engineering, and construction management.
The Making of a Building by Karl Sabbagh. This classic four-part series offers a behind-the-scenes look at the design and construction of the 47-story, 770-foot tower on the site formerly occupied by New York’s famous Madison Square Garden. It follows the developers, architects, engineers and construction crews as well as neighborhood residents who sometimes oppose the project.
Developed by William Zeckendorf, Jr., Worldwide Plaza extended the Midtown commercial area towards the residential West Side into the neighbourhood of Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton. One of the largest and first tenants was the international advertising agency of Ogilvy & Mather, who signed on early and are often featured in the mini-series. The agency leased 600,000 square-feet and it was their home for two decades.
One Worldwide Plaza’s architect was David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and the building is crowned by a copper roof and glass pyramid known as “David’s Diamond”. The base of the building is granite and precast concrete. The tower facade is made of brick.
All four episodes are embeded. This documentary is a powerful story of money, architecture, public relations, technology and construction.
Good structural design is important in most building designs, but particularly for skyscrapers since even a small chance of catastrophic failure is unacceptable given the high prices of construction. This presents a paradox to civil engineers: the only way to assure a lack of failure is to test for all modes of failure, in both the laboratory and the real world. But the only way to know of all modes of failure is to learn from previous failures. Thus, no engineer can be absolutely sure that a given structure will resist all loadings that could cause failure, but can only have large enough margins of safety such that a failure is acceptably unlikely. When buildings do fail, engineers question whether the failure was due to some lack of foresight or due to some unknowable factor.
The load a skyscraper experiences is largely from the force of the building material itself. In most building designs, the weight of the structure is much larger than the weight of the material that it will support beyond its own weight. In technical terms, the dead load, the load of the structure, is larger than the live load, the weight of things in the structure (people, furniture, vehicles, etc.). As such, the amount of structural material required within the lower levels of a skyscraper will be much larger than the material required within higher levels. This is not always visually apparent. The Empire State Building’s setbacks are actually a result of the building code at the time, and were not structurally required. On the other hand John Hancock Center’s shape is uniquely the result of how it supports loads. Vertical supports can come in several types, among which the most common for skyscrapers can be categorized as steel frames, concrete cores, tube within tube design, and shear walls.
The wind loading on a skyscraper is also considerable. In fact, the lateral wind load imposed on super-tall structures is generally the governing factor in the structural design. Wind pressure increases with height, so for very tall buildings, the loads associated with wind are larger than dead or live loads.
Other vertical and horizontal loading factors come from varied, unpredictable sources, such as earthquakes.
The classic concept of a skyscraper is a large steel box with many small boxes inside it. The genius of the steel frame is its simplicity. By eliminating the inefficient part of a shear wall, the central portion, and consolidating support members in a much stronger material, steel, a skyscraper could be built with both horizontal and vertical supports throughout. This method, though simple, has drawbacks. Chief among these is that as more material must be supported (as height increases), the distance between supporting members must decrease, which actually, in turn, increases the amount of material that must be supported. This becomes inefficient and uneconomic for buildings above 40 stories tall as usable floor spaces are reduced for supporting column and due to more usage of steel.
Since 1963, a new structural system of framed tubes appeared