How Tall Can A Skyscraper Really Get?

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]

Rahhal /


    There's no reason you couldn't treat the elevator rides as a simple commute as you would driving or catching a train to work or town. One of the big issues with going so huge, and I love huge buildings, let's make 'em bigger, is the effect they have on the ground underneath! They can cause micro earth quakes etc.

    I don't se why you would need to have a single lift that goes from the top to the bottom. You could easily stage it so that the lifts remain manageable.

      No modern skyscraper over a certain height has lifts that go all the way from bottom to top. They've been staged for decades.

        When I was in Dubai last year I took a lift from the ground floor to 128 to the atmosphere bar and it probably took about 20 seconds. The only real indication we were moving was the ear pops

    even if the question of 'how?' is answered the question of 'why?' remains. is it efficient? is it beautiful? does it integrate well into the surrounding area?

    a lot of supertall buildings seem ugly and out of place. the burj khalifa looks great in photos, i have no idea what it's like to use or live near.

    When the usable floor area, as a percentage of the area of the building, drops below a certain level the erection is no longer referred to as a building but as a structure.

    For some reason, Arabia and tall buildings remind me of the Tower of Babel :P

    Newsflash: " 'Iraq' begins construction on building planned to reach the sky" Ca. 3500BC...

    Human ingenuity has been focusing on building tall structures for a long time..... more to come

    What's the theoretical limit? Well...

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