• UnEarthed

How Buildings Are Able To Stand So Tall

Updated: Jul 13

By: Allaha Mohiby


Have you ever looked up and seen a majestic building? Have you ever gone to the top? If you have, you may have wondered how it can stay up high and mighty. It's all about structure! Just as people need a strong core to improve their balance and stability, buildings need a strong core too. The first step engineers take to ensure their buildings stay up is ensuring the core is rigid. A concrete core allows this to happen. Along with the concrete core, the building needs something to create its outer shape. This is where its steel frames come in. Just like a frame for a photo keeps the photo from falling out, the steel frames ensure the building is secured to its core. That might make the construction of a building seem simple. The more steel frames and concrete, the stronger the building, right? So where do we stop? Well, strength is not the only factor here!


When creating these structures, engineers want to create as many buildings as they can with the available resources. This means balancing the level of strength required for the building to stay up with the beauty that was first envisioned in the eyes of the architect. With the funds available, the engineer wants to balance the structural needs of the building with the architect’s vision, which allows them to bring the building to its greatest potential. One way that has been made possible is seen in the

Tower, which is a building still under construction in China. Not only does this tower have a concrete core and steel frame, but it has an exoskeleton! That is exactly what it sounds like, a skeleton on the exterior, or outside of the building. This exoskeleton gives the building a unique shape. Triangles are the most structurally stable two-dimensional shape so engineers constructed the building’s exoskeleton out of a triangular-shaped frame. With its intricate design, the tower gives off the optical illusion that the entire building is spinning. You might also assume that successful building structures stand still in the sky, however, that leads me to another interesting fact.


It is actually normal for tall buildings to move a little with the wind. In the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, you can feel the skyscraper move and sway slowly about six and a half feet! That is completely safe as engineers and architects design the building in a way that allows for it to withstand the strongest of winds. All of this is possible because of the core discussed earlier! When thinking about how tall buildings are able to stand by themselves, think about how you hold yourself up. You can not topple over unless you lose balance at your feet. Buildings are the same way. With a strong foundation, it is nearly impossible for a building to just fall over. Not only did engineers and architects design these buildings but they did the math to ensure everything was perfect just so people like you and I could climb it. Next time you're in a building, think about the work that had to be put in to ensure it soars up into the sky.


Sources

CBC/Radio Canada. (n.d.). 5 fun facts about skyscrapers | CBC Kids. CBCnews. Retrieved

October 7, 2021, from https://www.cbc.ca/kidscbc2/the-feed/5-fun-facts-about-skyscrapers


Chen, S. (2015, July 27). How to keep a 1,500-foot skyscraper from falling over. Wired.

Retrieved October 7, 2021, from

https://www.wired.com/2015/07/keep-1500-foot-skyscraper-falling/.


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