Civil Engineering · Physics · Skyscrapper · Temple university

Structure: Skyscraper

Designing a Skyscraper is one of the biggest dreams of many Structural Engineers around the world. It is both difficult and challenging to design a great Skyscraper to withstand daily forces internally and externally. Before designing a Skyscraper, a lot of physics has to be included to increase its life span. In the past, it was impossible to build buildings so high and it was only limited because of old technology. However, as new technology are being introduced new possibilities are there to break this limitations. There is a lot to think about before building a Skyscraper such as, gravity, practicality, wind resistance.


Gravity was always an issue in the past as you increase the height of a building the gravity increases and will cause it to collapse. As an example, the well-known Jenga family game, as you stack the wood blocks together the structure starts to become unstable and finally ending up falling apart. The reason for this is the increased weight of the building as you stack up more and more floors on top of each other and the foundation wasn’t able to handle the forces by the weight. To combat this issue is to include a lot of support within the foundation and also include more materials than a normal house would need. The foundation has to be strong enough to resist the huge weight of a 2,717′ structure to become stable. A support used in the foundation exclusively for a skyscraper is called Giant Girder Grids shown down below.



As Structural Engineers built the theory of building a Skyscraper, the idea of building many floors wasn’t shown to be practical to the engineers yet. For example, elevators were not invented and for people to walk from floor 1 to floor 50 was impossible to achieve without some sort of transportation device. In the past, one of the limitation was this idea of practicality with only using the stairs technology to walk to at least six floors of a building. That is why engineers in the past were not able to build more than a six floor buildings because of the limited technology they had.

However, the invention of elevator technology have changed the scope of Practicality of building a Skyscraper ever since. In most of Skyscrapers, the elevator shafts make up the building’s central core. Elevators have also became integral part of Skyscrapers to become practical.


Wind Resistance

Not only the vertical force of gravity is affecting the Skyscraper, but also a horizontal force of wind also plays part in causing problems into the structure. This horizontal force will cause the Skyscraper to move left to right and the problem would be how it effects the people inside the building. The solution to this issue will be to tighten the building and connection of top, bottom and the sides of each floor. This way will allow the building to resist huge amount of wind and more of a one unit building.


What i have shown here are some of the problems a structural engineer would face during hes/her time of building a Skyscraper. I will end with a nice video showing some buildings and Skyscraper in Manhattan.



3 thoughts on “Structure: Skyscraper

  1. Hey, your TA here, great work on your blog post! You went into so much detail and really did you research for this topic! Awesome! You also included pictures related to the topic you were writing about which helped me gain a better understanding of what was going on. Awesome! The only thing I want you to change is the amount you proofread! There were still a few spots throughout the post that could have used some work and a thorough proofread would have caught these. Other than that, keep doing what you’re doing because you’re doing a great job. I look forward to reading what you post in the future.


  2. Your post is quite informative about the practicality and limitations of skyscrapers. Back in sophomore year when i took tech comm, I wrote my design document on tuned mass dampers and how they resist outside forces on a building. Say there is a large gust of wind pushing on one side of the building. The mass damper then sways against the direction of said force, essentially bending the top of the tower back to its stationary point. There is so much more that can be told about this fascinating device but perhaps it’s better to write a blog post about it.


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