We’ve become so used to them, and for many of us, we spend a sizeable portion of our lives living and working in them. They’ve reached unspeakable heights, and the race is perpetually on to see which country can build the tallest, the biggest and the most technologically advanced.
Far from just being structures, when you’re working or living a few hundred meters in the sky, it takes an exceptional workforce to keep these giant structures working in top condition, but also of paramount importance, safely.
Post 9/11, it seems almost counterproductive for this new race to reach the sky, but governments the world over can’t resist the national prestige that comes with having the tallest of the tallest. The Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates currently holds the title of the tallest skyscraper globally, measuring a staggering 830 metres from tip to tip. A favourite for tourists to the region and one of the most desirable addresses in the world, it takes hundreds of workers to ensure that this building operates safely and that if the unthinkable were to happen, that the thousands of people who live and work in the building can be moved to safety in as little time as possible. The building has its own fire team, medical team, disaster response team, and remote monitoring facility.
The “Burj”, as it’s affectionately known, has a treasure chest of safety features built into the building. Among their publicly known features are:
- The world’s fastest elevators can travel at 10 metres per second, carrying 12 – 14 passengers per cabin.
- Fire safety systems include intelligent sprinkler systems, smoke evacuation systems and 38 smoke and fire-resistant elevators.
- It also has 24,348 windows that need to be washed, cleaned and monitored for chips, scratches and cracks. Given all the sandstorms and extreme weather in the region, they probably need some Glass Polishing from time to time as well.
THE PETRONAS TOWERS, MALAYSIA
The tallest twin towers in the world, they firmly announced Malaysia’s intentions of becoming a significant player in business and economics on the globe. Rising a staggering 451.8 metres into the Kuala Lumpur skyline, they have been a solid attraction for business people and tourists alike and are architecturally stunning.
They were also designed with Islamic artistic and mystical principles, making them an obvious statement to the West and the rest of the world. They make use of 58 “double-deck” elevators (each stopping at an odd or even-numbered floor) to speed occupants between floors at incredible speeds, that’s 7 metres per second to you and me – oh, and there are vacancies for elevator engineers if you’re so inclined, but if you’re worried about safety – don’t worry. They’re built to withstand hurricanes.
THE WILLIS TOWER, CHICAGO, UNITED STATES
When you think about impressive skylines, you probably think about this tower in Chicago at some point; it towers far above any other in Chicago and is Illinois response to the “war of the skyscrapers” that was taking place in the United States at the time. It is the 12th tallest tower in the world and the 2nd tallest in the United States. Previously known as the “Sears” tower, it’s changed ownership since then, but its iconic testament to humanity’s ingenuity remains.
Fun fact: on a clear day, you can see no less than four different states from its viewing deck: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.
ONE WORLD TRADE CENTRE, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES
One could hardly discuss the tallest buildings of the globe without talking about “One World Trade Center” in New York City. Just metres away from the original twin towers that terrorists brought down in the worst terrorist attack on US soil in history. The building houses an information centre, of course, but it also comes with some fantastic quirks as well. When standing outside the building and looking up, the design creates the effect to mimic rising endlessly into the sky; it seems as if one cannot see the top. The actual site of the twin towers is in and of itself quite the moment and a very sombre event.
It has 54-high speed destination despatch passenger elevators that travel at nearly 23 miles per hour.
We’re not nearly close to the end of the high rise, and with Saudi Arabia about to launch the Jeddah Tower, which will be the new tallest building in the world, the race continues, and it appears that the sky isn’t even the limit. There is one question, though, with the work from home revolution only set to increase in pace, do we even need offices anymore?