The tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, is a whopping 828 meters tall, and in 2018, the Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia aims to top it by going to 1000m. Is there a practical limit to this architectural oneupsmanship?
Apart from the wrath of a vengeful god, who will smite the hubristic constructions of man united, there are some factors which limit the size of our towers. Most of them are boringly practical, Atlantic Cities points out. Elevators, for instance, become problematic when your building starts coming up on near a mile in height. Likewise, building ridiculously high towers is expensive, and their bases tend to require tons of real estate.
If you could secure the money and land, however, and find people to stomach the painfully long elevator rides, it wouldn’t be out of the question to build skyscrapers miles high. Chairman at the Council on Tall Buildings Tim Johnson told Atlantic Cities he’d worked on designing a building that could have been scaled to roughly two miles (about 3000m) if it had ever been built:
“We proved that it is physically and even programmatically possible to build a building a mile-and-a-half tall. If somebody would have said ‘Do it two miles,’ we probably could have done that, too.”
So long as you make your foundation sufficiently large, there’s no reason that man-made buildings should be limited to any height less than that of the tallest natural mountain. It’s the logistics of getting such a mammoth, phallic symbol actual built that proves to be the hardest part. [Atlantic Cities]