Build Big: Skyscrapers

Build Big: Skyscrapers

Access Doors and Panels on 7th Oct 2020

Build Big: Skyscrapers

In the  construction industry, skyscrapers are probably one of the things that are continually improving. There has always been a human fascination with building tall structures, dating back to when pyramids were the trend. It wasn’t only until recently that people were able to create buildings that reach the clouds.

Also identified as “supertall buildings” or “vertical cities,” skyscrapers are icons of architectural engineering that represent a great example of human ingenuity by challenging the limits set by nature. Moreover, people build skyscrapers because they can create a lot of real estate out of a relatively small ground area. As the world population grows, humans have advanced the need to live among the clouds, thus resulting in us building even taller buildings.

However, most people don’t know a lot about skyscrapers. That’s why Access Doors and Panels wrote this blog to give our readers more information on skyscrapers. If you find skyscrapers fascinating, please read on to find out more.

1. Defying Gravity

When building skyscrapers, the main obstacle in building upward is fighting against the downward pull of gravity. Take, for instance, when you carry a friend on your shoulders. If that friend doesn’t weigh that much, you can support him/her by yourself. However, if you put some other person on your friend’s shoulders, you wouldn’t be able to do it yourself. Now, take a tower instead. To make a tower “multi-people high,” you need more people on the bottom to support the weight of everyone above. When building skyscrapers, there has to be more strong and sturdy material at the bottom to support the structure's weight above. The total force on every point below increases every time you add a new vertical layer.

2. Giant Girder Grids

For a skyscraper, its central support system is its steel skeleton. When forming vertical columns, its metal beams are riveted end to end. On every floor level, these vertical columns connect to horizontal girder beams. Many buildings have diagonal beams that run between the girders for extra structural support. Because of this giant three-dimensional grid or “superstructure,” all the weight in the building gets transferred directly to the vertical columns. The downward force caused by gravity concentrates on the relatively small areas where the columns rest at the building’s base. Then, the concentrated force spreads out in the substructure under the building.

Every single vertical column sits on a spread footing in a typical skyscraper substructure. Columns rest directly on a cast-iron plate that sits on top of a grillage. A stack of horizontal steel beams or grillage is lined side-by-side in two or more layers. Moreover, the grillage rests on a thick concrete pad pouring directly onto the hard clay under the ground. The entire structure is then covered with concrete once the steel is in place.

3. Making a Functional Skyscraper

With new iron and steel manufacturing processes, the possibility of towering buildings has also increased. However, it isn’t the whole picture that you see because before high-rise buildings could become a reality, engineers had the job to make them practical. When a building gets more than five or six floors, stairs already become a fairly inconvenient technology, that’s why there was the emergence of elevator technology. From the time engineers installed the first passenger elevator in New York’s Haughwout Department Store in 1857, elevator shafts have been a significant part of skyscraper design. Elevator shafts now make up the building’s central core in most skyscrapers.

It is important to figure out the elevator structure, which is a balancing act of sorts. When you add more floors to a building, it is understood that you are also increasing the building’s occupancy and when you have more people, you would need more elevators to avoid your lobby from filling up with long queues of people. The tendency now is that you lose floor space for every elevator that you add since elevator shafts take up so much room. That’s why, deciding on the right number of floors and elevators is one of the most important aspects of designing a building. Moreover, building safety is also an important consideration in building design. Without the advent of fire-resistant building materials in the 1800s, skyscrapers wouldn’t have worked so well today. Now, skyscrapers are already outfitted with sophisticated sprinkler systems that function to put out most fires before they spread very far.

4. Wind-Resistance

Aside from going against the vertical force of gravity, skyscrapers also have to face the horizontal force of wind. Did you know that most skyscrapers can easily move several feet in either direction without damaging structural integrity, like a swaying tree? However, there is a problem with this horizontal movement-- it might affect the occupants of the building. When there is a substantial horizontal distance movement, the people inside the building will already feel it.

In order to control the horizontal sway, there is the most basic method of merely tightening up the structure. Where the horizontal girders fasten to the vertical column, the construction crews bolt and weld them on all sides-- top, bottom, and even the sides. With this method, the entire steel superstructure can move more as one unit, just like a pole. Unfortunately, tighter connections don’t really do the trick for taller skyscrapers. Engineers must construct especially strong cores through the center of the building to keep these buildings from swaying. Modern buildings now have one or more concrete cores built into the center of the building.

Final words

Today, with architects and engineers heartily embracing the challenges of building higher, the “world’s tallest” title regularly passes from skyscraper to skyscraper. In the construction industry, this is one of the most competitive contests-- corporations and cities are attracted to the glory of towering over other buildings, and the skyscraper race is far from over. Many proposed buildings would break the current record, and there are even some more ambitious buildings that are still theoretical at this time. Moreover, technology also keeps coming up with sturdy materials, elaborate cranes, pumping systems, and many more that are all needed in building skyscrapers.

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7th Oct 2020 Access Doors and Panels