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The History of Skyscraper Design

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Society has been building tall for centuries - but the tall buildings of the past look a lot different than buildings constructed today. Here, we'll discuss the history of skyscraper design.

Published in: Design
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The History of Skyscraper Design

  1. 1. SKYSCRAPER DESIGN DANIEL LAMBRAIA T H E H I S T O R Y O F
  2. 2. The skyscrapers of modern day have grown to be massive structures that dare to tower higher and higher over us to become the tallest buildings in the world. But why is it exactly that we seem to have an obsession with building higher and higher towards the clouds? It turns out that skyscrapers are an ancient concept that have been a focus of history since the earliest recordings known to man.
  3. 3. Some of the world’s first “skyscrapers” actually look quite different from the steel and glass structures we see on our city streets today. The buildings of cultures past took the form of historic constructs such as the Great Pyramid of Giza or the Lincoln Cathedral, both built thousands of years ago.
  4. 4. Large monuments, towers, and pyramid-like structures appear on nearly every continent, and were designed to be important places. In ancient times, villagers and kingdom-leaders alike were eager to be closer to the heavens and the gods. So much so that the need to be closer to the heavens became the main inspiration for building taller.
  5. 5. It wasn’t until the technological advancements beginning as early as the 19th century that true skyscrapers as we know them could even be built. Cities such as Shibam in Yemen contain some of the first communities with several tall buildings featured – some of these communities date back as far as the 16h century!
  6. 6. Chicago and New York are two cities within the U.S. that are credited with leading the way for modern skyscrapers for businesses and residential buildings.
  7. 7. One of the first skyscrapers in Chicago, known as the Chicago’s Home Insurance building, was only 12 stories high. The great Chicago fire of 1871 cleared so many buildings in the area that architects were pressured to replace the buildings lost with new and safer designs. Many consider this to be the turning point for Chicago’s booming skyscraper beginnings.
  8. 8. In the late 19th century, the battle began to create the world’s tallest buildings. In a frenzy of new interest, laws were passed that limited the height of buildings in certain cities in order to keep architects from designing buildings that were unsafe. 
  9. 9. As New York continued to grow their building designs, people became concerned with the amount of daylight that could be seen on the streets through the tall buildings. Zoning laws were written and rewritten and soon, fundamental building rules were established to give the public more comfort. This required buildings to taper in a bit smaller as the building got taller, so that light could escape. 
  10. 10. Moving forward towards the 20th and 21st centuries, landscapers and architects really had no choice but to build upwards. Big cities only had so much room to build lengthwise and still be in the most relevant parts of town, and the growing desire to be home to the world’s tallest buildings continued to soar.
  11. 11. As technology grew, and with steel becoming more widely available for large projects, buildings became taller and safety regulations became more advanced. Multiple structural systems began to be the norm in design concepts and allowed for easier constructs, stronger materials, and better building support.
  12. 12. In today’s culture, architects continue to push the envelope in terms of design and construction. The next time you look up at a city skyline,  just remember how much work it took to get where we are today – human ambition and technological advancements have truly propelled us into a new age of building and it will be very exciting to see where we dare to go next!
  13. 13. FOR MORE, VISIT: DANIELLAMBRAIA.COM T H A N K S F O R R E A D I N G !

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