How Did the Sky Scraper Become Colossus?

When we look at sky scrapers in the modern day and age, we often take them for granted, as it is quite a staple, especially if you are a city dweller. Although taken for granted, these gargantuan structures prove just how far the human race has developed over the years. The saying ‘the sky is the limit’ certainly does not limit us on our ability to achieve great things, but also to literally inhabit the sky too. What makes the sky scraper more interesting to architects and builders is its long history that goes all the way back to the period of Queen Victoria. Here is just a small glimpse into how the sky scraper came to what it is now:

The Late 19th Century

It was quite apparent that space was getting quite expensive to purchase in the urban areas, and as a result the only way to expand a business was to think vertically and not laterally. In other words, it was time to make building that has a number of storeys, so as to create more space for the business, without really taking up other peoples’ spaces. As a result, the first sky scraper was built in the form of the Home Insurance Building in Chicago that towered at 138-feet above the ground. Something that was quite remarkable of that day. This was, however, built with typical material, such as brick and concrete.

Early 20th Century

This era saw further improvements on building architecture, especially with the ‘Flat Iron’. This building’s shape was quite the unique one, as it resembled that of a flat iron when looking at it from the top. The reason for such a design was to make sure the structure was rigid and was able to bear the weight of the thick walls that contained large amounts of brick and cement to hold it in place.

Middle and Late 20th Century

It was during this period that the trick to building sky scrapers was really mastered, as steel was incorporated into the mix of supporting the building. With the use of steel as a form of cage to keep the concrete intact, the builders do not need to fettle with weak bricks to support the structure, as steel is much quicker to work with and much more stronger than regular brick. Moreover, the steel reinforced bars could twisted and turned according to the specifications of the job at hand with the help of rebar bending machines, making it much more adaptable and versatile. The Chicago Sears Tower, the Empire State Building, the World Trade Centre were all made easily with the help of the these handy bars. With most of them still standing even in the present era, it really does show how solid the structure is.

Present Day

The present day is one of ever changing designs and technology, as the sky scraper has become much more environmental friendly and much more pleasing to the eye. What makes it all the more intriguing is the fact that the sky scraper keeps getting taller and taller. Great examples for this are The Shard and the Burj Khalifa that has literally taken man to the sky. Moreover, innovation does not seem to be stopping, as a number of new projects are coming up to make the sky scraper much taller.

When looking back at the years then, the sky scraper really has grown from its humble beginnings into something that could make man literally inhabit the sky.

About the author  ⁄ Rodger Schmeltzer

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