The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is currently billed as the World’s Tallest Building.
It sways in the wind almost five feet. It stands over half a mile tall, at 2,716.5 feet. But one has to wonder whether the Burj Khalifa will ever become the 2nd tallest building in the world, and if so – what needs to be overcome in order to achieve this goal?
Because it’s not strict building codes or city ordinances that prevent buildings from being built bigger and taller. It’s simple physics.
And it’s not the physics you’re thinking of, either. The building structures themselves can always be built bigger — even up to a mile in length if necessary, doubling in size the height of the Burj Khalifa.
No, it’s not the building physics that are the issue — but rather a more practical one.
You can BUILD a building that tall, but HOW ARE YOU GOING TO GET PEOPLE TO THE UPPER FLOORS SAFELY, EFFICIENTLY?
The problem is with the elevators. More specifically, with the LENGTH OF THE ELEVATOR CABLES themselves. It’s all about the weight of the cables, and whether the cables can pull up the elevator and its occupants — as well as the excess portion of the lifting cable itself.
The standard elevator cable in use today has a maximum lift height of 500 meters. This has been the primary reason that building height has been limited, in order to have a single elevator ride from the bottom floor to the top floor without having to switch shafts in the middle of your ascent or descent.
But engineers are working on the rope issue, and are now looking at using carbon fibres instead of the previously-used steel material. By using carbon fibres, they can cut the rope weight by 90%, effectively (in essence) eliminating any height restriction on the elevator shaft…. to the point where these MILE HIGH SKYSCRAPERS can actually be a reality.
Of course, you’ll still end up riding with someone who decides to press all the buttons on their way out of the elevator, laughing all along the way as the doors close behind them.