How tall can buildings possibly get? New kilometer-high tower being built
Tuesday, 06 May 2014, 11:46:16 AM
We've all heard the saying "the sky's the limit" and maybe it truly is. The world's first kilometre-high tower is currently being built in Saudi Arabia, planned to be finished by 2018. That's 1001 metres. For comparisons sake, the Empire State Building stands 381 metres tall. The current tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, stands 828 metres tall.
Named The Kingdom Tower, it will have 12 escalators and 59 elevators, some of which will be able to travel 36 kilometers per hour. Unusually large-scale buildings require an unusual amount of internal infrastructure.
Canadian expert on tall buildings, Richard Witt, claims that there are no true physical limitations when talking about just how high skyscrapers can go. Mr. Witt claims that "We can pretty much do anything we want. It's just that if you were going to build a 20-kilometer tower, and it would take 100 years to build, it becomes unreasonable in terms of management and payback". He even suggests that there's not many ingredients or magical materials needed...other than money.
That's not to say there aren't challenges in constructing skyscrapers such as these. The elements can pose an obstacle to tall towers: wind can sway the structures, and sun on one side may cause them to curl. On top of that, columns in high concrete buildings can shorten or shrink, which must be taken into account beforehand.
The Kingdom Tower is expected to cost somewhere around $1.2 billion U.S. dollars to build. The reason these kilometer-tall towers haven't been built yet all around the world is due to the lack of billionaire investors who want to gamble on real estate projects that could end up being more about ego or legacy than stellar profits, given the potential for delays and cost overruns.