How Tall Can They Crawl?

Nate Berg asks what the practical limit is to the seemingly endless quest to design and construct the world's tallest building.

With the world's first 1,000 meter-high building planned for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the topic of the practical limit to building heights was the focus of a series of interviews with leading skyscraper architects and designers conducted by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

Adrian Smith, the architect behind the current tallest building in the world (Burj Khalifa) and the kilometer-tall Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, believes the single biggest limiting factor is "in the elevator and transportation system."

William Baker, the structural engineer at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill who worked with Smith on the Burj Khalifa, and designed the innovative "buttressed core" system that allowed it to rise so high, shares his ideas on the possibilities with Berg. 

"We could easily do a kilometer. We could easily do a mile," Baker says. "We could do at least a mile and probably quite a bit more."

"The buttressed core would probably have to be modified to go much higher than a mile. But Baker says that other systems could be designed. In fact, he's working on some of them now," writes Berg. 

"You could conceivably go higher than the highest mountain, as long as you kept spreading a wider and wider base," Baker says.

Full Story: Is There a Limit to How Tall Buildings Can Get?

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