Most of the world’s supertall buildings rely on a little boost to hit the heights

Yes, but is it all real?

Yes, but is it all real?

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats has produced a new report into the way the developers of the world’s supertall buildings are adding useless spikes, spires and towers on top of their edifices to increase their overall height. CTBUH describes this phenomenon as ‘Vanity Height’ but there are other equally applicable terms. The survey of the world’s supertall (300m+) buildings found that more than half of the 72 worldwide would fail to meet the necessary height criteria if they didn’t have that little something extra added. Unsurprisingly, many are in the UAE but New York is no slouch when it comes to adding a little extra in a bid to impress.

Key findings of the report include:

  • At 244 meters, the vanity height of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE, could be a skyscraper on its own – in fact, it would be Europe’s 11th-tallest building.
  • The Burj Al-Arab, Dubai, UAE, has the greatest vanity ratio of any supertall building – 124 (39 percent) of its 321 meters is devoted to non-occupiable space above the highest occupiable floor.
  • Without their vanity height, 44 (61 percent) of the world’s 72 supertalls would measure less than 300 meters – thus losing their supertall status.
  • The United Arab Emirates clocks in as the nation with the most “vain” supertall buildings, with an average vanity height of 19 percent.
  • New York City, USA has two of the tallest 10 vanity heights, and is set to gain a third with the completion of One World Trade Center in 2014.
  • According to CTBUH Height Criteria regarding telecommunications towers, a 50 percent vanity height would deem any structure a “non-building.”
  • The “vainest” building overall in the CTBUH database, although not a supertall, is the Ukraina Hotel in Moscow, Russia – 42 percent of its 206-meter height is non-occupiable.
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