Posted by Heidi Schwartz
Apparently, architects in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are the best in the world at one thing—creating the tallest, most self indulgent buildings. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), the UAE has the highest concentration of structures that are super tall with the most unusable space. Based on the CTBUH height criteria, the UAE is number one when it comes to vanity height—the distance between the skyscraper’s highest usable floor and its architectural top.
The Council is an international not-for-profit organization supported by architecture, engineering, planning, development, and construction professionals. It is considered the world’s leading body in the field of tall buildings.
A newly released article by the organization places five of the top 10 in the UAE city of Dubai—Burj Khalifa (1), Burj Al Arab (4), Emirates Tower One (5), Emirates Tower Two (7), and Rose Rayhaan (8)—along with three in China and two in New York City.
Tom Bill of Reuters writes,
Developers typically get higher rents on upper floors, but in developing economies (where land and labor is cheaper) they can more readily use tall buildings to spark nearby development and make wider schemes viable, said Steve Watts, a tall buildings expert at construction consultancy Alinea.
“You can have towers that are loss-leaders but catalysts for regeneration and iconic structures can sway decision-makers,” he said. “There can also be an ego element with these things with developers wanting to go higher than each other,” Watts added.
In terms of supertall buildings with the smallest vanity heights, New York City had the two structures that scored lowest on the scale (1%)—the World Trade Center Towers 1 and 2, which were destroyed during the 2001 attacks of 9/11. The city also claims the two earliest vanity height supertall structures, with its iconic Chrysler Building (1930) and Empire State Building (1931). Interestingly enough, the Chrysler Building scores in the mid-range of the vanity scale with 20.9%, while the Empire State Building was among the lowest at 2.1%—barely enough for King Kong to climb.