Thursday, May 24, 2007

Question Hour: Very Tall Buildings Edition

by Tom Bozzo

(An occasional series on search queries that lure visitors to this blog.)

The new-and-improved Site Meter had been making it look like Ms. Hathaway's turn as Jane Austen was going to induce a Second Hathalanche. So far, though, it hasn't quite washed out a bunch of people looking for information — exact queries unknown — on the rapidly sprouting Dubai skyline. Some time back, I'd posted this in response to a characteristically finely-honed observation from Helen Macdonald.

Since then, the Burj Dubai has soared to 128 floors and 460 meters (a.k.a. 1509 feet) and counting. That's not only taller than the 442-meter roof of Chicago's Sears Tower, but also the unoccupied pinnacles of the cheating Petronas Towers in Malaysia. It should exceed the 509-meter height of the current tallest building, Taipei 101, by late-summer or early-fall '07. Here's a recent construction picture of Burj Dubai, which is remarkable in no small part for the number of construction cranes visible servicing other sites in the frame.

Back then, I'd put the final height of the Burj Dubai in the range of 705 meters to a kilometer — remarkably tall at either end of the range. Current rumor (backed by plans) has it that Burj Dubai will top out above 800 meters (2625 feet), making it the tallest human-built structure on the planet by a good margin. If you are aching for news, is the place to go.

A big question for skyscraper geeks is whether another proposed Dubai tower, the Al Burj, will be amazingly tall (700 meters) or amazingly amazingly tall (1100 meters).

Meanwhile, Wikipedia tells me that following Chicago city council approval, construction of the Santiago Calatrava-designed Chicago Spire is to commence Real Soon Now. While its 610-meter height won't put it in the league of its middle-eastern betters, it'll have a plenty-remarkable effect on the Chicago skyline. (Though note that the lake-side skyline render shows neither of the supertalls rising along the Chicago river, the Trump International hotel/condo or the Waterview Tower.) If nothing else, the Spire's distinctive design will remind me that Nail's Tales cannot be seen very far beyond the intersection of Breese Terrace and Regent St. And insofar as my edit to the Madison, Wisconsin entry correcting an erroneous claim that the first Wisconsin capitol building burned in 1904 (it was the second) hasn't yet been reverted, I semi-trust Wikipedia on the subject.

If you want to follow the progress of the world's tallest buildings, this is the thread to follow, with a cool diagram showing the construction progress vs. the final outlines of the buildings.

The old post referenced the Blade Runner (the movie) design for post-apocalypse 21st-century L.A. We would be remiss were we not to note that what the production design really missed was the proliferation of big, flat TVs and associated display panels.

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