Wednesday, July 14, 2004> High society (engineering of new skyscrapers)

7/9/2004By Christopher Sell
"Once complete, Burj Dubai will claim the title of the world's tallest building. At over 2,000ft it will be almost twice as high as the Empire State Building and over 500ft taller than the current record holder, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. But to reach such dizzying heights, unique engineering design challenges have presented themselves." Innovation had a really neat episode on the engineering of new skyscrapers. Most observers won't realize how much these buildings move. You can get sea sick! The article linked above discusses how the engineers for the Dubai building went back to wind tunnels and other standard approaches because the computer models doen't adequately predict the microscale wind turbulence. It also discusses vortex shedding (see Tacoma Narrows Bridge). The article also mentions the materials to be used which are much stiffer than older materials. The Innovation episode also discusses the change in attitude or lack of real change in attitude toward skyscrapers since 2001.
Update:  NYT has a nice article on an exhibit of skyscrapers.  It's more on the art than the engineering but still worth a visit.  (Herbert Muschamp, "Skyscraping Around the Urban World" July 16, 2004, free registration required or contact your library to find out how to get access through their databases) (7/16/04)

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