How are Skyscrapers Built?

Skyscraper construction blueprints

Skyscrapers save space in cities, maximizing real estate for every square foot. But without a solid foundation and advanced building techniques, they could go from scraping the sky to dangerously unstable. How are skyscrapers built taller and more intricately every year? Below, we’ll take a look at the innovative skyscraper construction methods that keep our city’s architectural icons standing tall.

Steel Foundations

The first skyscrapers were built from wood and concrete, but all-steel foundation beams proved a boon to skyscraper construction. Concrete foundations become too heavy as their length increases, so architects needed a new material if they wanted to keep building upward. Because the comparatively light steel beams could hold up more weight, they would revolutionize skyscraper construction methods.

Sharing the Weight

In buildings like Chicago’s WIllis Tower, modern skyscraper construction methods involve a steel skeleton structure to distribute weight across the vertical beams that support the whole. These beams are riveted end-to-end to form vertical columns, which are connected to horizontal girder beams. The resulting grid structure, or skeleton, is known as the superstructure.

Consider the Elevators

How are skyscrapers built when you take elevators into account? Based on factors like the number of floors and expected occupancy, a skyscraper is required to have a certain number of elevators. However, this can complicate skyscraper construction because each elevator shaft takes up a good deal of space. Architects must consider every detail when it comes to the elevator shafts and stairways, and their position within the superstructure.

Catching the Wind

The higher you build, the more you need to worry about wind. So, how are skyscrapers built to handle blustery conditions many meters above the ground? Today’s innovative skyscraper construction methods employ design elements like small crannies, ornaments and nooks to catch and slow winds around the building. In addition, steel superstructures are designed to bend and flex with the wind.

Fly High At the Willis Tower Skydeck

Curious about Chicago’s impressive roster of history-making skyscrapers? Reach out to the team at Skydeck to learn more!

Important Notice Regarding COVID-19

Willis Tower and Skydeck Chicago have implemented measures consistent with CDC and local and federal guidance to try to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on the premises, including enhanced cleaning protocols. Even with these procedures in place, PLEASE BE ADVISED that building occupants, building and Skydeck visitors, or others currently or previously present upon this property and/or the Skydeck MAY HAVE CONTRACTED OR BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID-19 or other infectious diseases, and may expose you. By accessing and using building common areas, the Skydeck, and their associated amenities, you and your party voluntarily assume all risks of your use—INCLUDING THE RISK OF EXPOSURE TO INFECTIOUS DISEASE—and you waive all claims, including claims for negligence, against Willis Tower, Skydeck Chicago, and their respective owners, managers, affiliates, agents and representatives, arising out of such use. The above parties hereby disclaim all liability for any injuries arising out of your use of this property and the Skydeck, including exposure to infectious disease.

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