Saturday, October 18, 2008

Reach For The Stars

The buildings are growing taller as if they are in a race.

It seems that many buildings are screaming "When I grow up, I want to be the tallest in the world." What they may not be aware is that, it all depends on how their height is measured.

The measurement of height has always been a contentious issue. Generally, there are a few alternatives and there has been no consensus as to which is correct or preferred.

It is common to find spires or antennas atop tall buildings. I am not sure if such additions are functional, architecturally aesthetic or mere add-ons just for the purpose of staying ahead in the 'tallest building' race.

When the Patronas Towers in Malaysia was on its way up in 1996, there were disputes as to whether the new kid in town should be ranked higher than the Sears Tower. The answer would be different depending on the how the measuring tape was positioned.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) is the authority on the official building height. It seemed that this non-profit, non-governmental body was caught in a dilemma in deciding how building height should be defined. So, since 1996, it compiles alternative lists of tall buildings based on different definition of heights. Now, everyone is happy. It seems.

There are now 3 lists of tallest buildings, measured using different parameters:

a. Height of building up to any architecturally integral element, eg Spire

b. Height of building up to any pinnacle, ie. the highest point eg. Antenna

c. Height of buildings up to roof, excluding spire or antenna, if any.

Going by the first method of measurement, the Taipei 101 currently is the tallest building towering at 509m.

However, when the new Burj Dubai is completed in 2009, it will be leading the race. The official height of the building is given as 688m even though the actual height is kept secret. It is believed that it might go above 940m. We will know in September next year.

If that is not enough, Dubai is planning yet another tall building. The height of the proposed building by Nakheel is again a secret. The owner will only say that it will be more than a kilometer tall and will take more than a decade to complete.

In the top 200 chart, Singapore's UOB Plaza One, Republic Plaza and OUB Centre, all standing at 280m, are ranked at No.60. As the race goes on, their ranking will only come down as building height in Singapore is capped at 280m.
The purpose of building bigger and taller buildings is no longer about creating more rooms. Today, the tallest building is a symbolic trophy in the modern economic warfare. It becomes important to tell the world that "We have arrived as an economy."

The rule of the race is simple: The one with the tallest building 'wins' (whatever the price is...)
Read another similar story:

The Sky Is The Limit




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