How are skyscrapers made? A quick guide to the construction of city buildings

How are skyscrapers made? A quick guide to the construction of city buildings

It still amazes many people when we see new and exciting skyscrapers being built across the country and around the globe. Many buildings seem to be getting taller, more intricate in detail and more advanced architecturally each and every year.

How are these buildings getting bigger and better? How are skyscrapers made?

A skyscraper often refers to a high-rise building with over 40-50 floors. Many built-up cities around the world have utilised the technology and advances to build upwards, rather than outwards, in order to help boost inner city populations and offices for thriving businesses.

Fighting Gravity

The biggest issue with building upwards is the inevitable fight against gravity. When thinking about the height of buildings and understanding the problems with gravity, it’s helpful to think about having a friend on your shoulders. Having one person on your shoulders may be difficult, but possible. However, when adding a second person to your shoulders, you’re likely to collapse ina heap under the weight of two people!

That is why a cheerleader pyramid often works well, as there is more than one person bearing the brunt of the weight of the people in the tower. The tower can easily stand as their is a solid foundation of multiple people. This is similar to how skyscrapers can be possible. However, only up to a certain number of floors.

Advances in Steel

Iron and steel production helped architects to reach new heights in their efforts to build taller buildings. It wasn’t possible to keep increasing the width and strength of concrete foundations, so mass produced steel and iron production helped to build taller buildings. Long beams of solid iron meant a lightweight material could help hold more weight to help build a taller building.

Creating a Steel Skeleton

Skyscrapers are created using a steel skeleton structure. Giant girder grids are formed by riveting metal beams end to end to form vertical columns. At each floor, the vertical columns are connected to horizontal girder beams to help strengthen and reinforce the structure. For additional support, many buildings also use diagonal beams between the girders. In whole, this grid is known as the superstructure. Weight of the building is then distributed to the vertical columns.

Engineering For Elevators

As you increase the amount of floors a building has, you therefore increase the number of people occupying the building. With more people comes the increasing need to use elevators because who wants to climb more than 10 flights of stairs to get to work?

The number of elevators required depends on a number of factors such as how many floors the building will have and how many people will be within the building. But, with increased elevator numbers this also reduces the amount of floor space for each floor as the elevator shaft takes up more space. Designing tall buildings also requires attention to detail regarding elevators, stairways and how people will move in and out of the building.

Dealing With Wind

Another factor that many architects and engineers need to consider when building tall structures is the force of wind. Buildings don’t want to be aerodynamic and often, wind doesn’t simply sweep around the shape of a building easily. Buildings that look like sails or wings also have the tendency to act like what they look like, picking up wind and generating lift and becoming dangerous.

Because of this, buildings rely on nooks, ornaments or small crannies within the building structure in order to catch wind and slow it down. In fact, some designers and engineers will create building prototypes and test them in wind tunnels to check on their durability and how they react to high winds.

Onwards and Upwards

Buildings and structures will continue to grow upwards as engineers work on pushing the boundaries and limits of their designs. With the right tools, skyscrapers can both be an amazing display of design and engineering magnificence.

If you’re looking for a company that can help with engineering for your next build, great or small, the team at Uni-Span can help. Designing structures and customised designs can be made possible with Uni-span. For more information, visit or contact our friendly team on 1300 882 825.