Last year, I took the elevator up 108 stories to the top of the International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong, a skyscraper so huge that it is often obscured by the clouds. Sitting in the skybar, sipping champagne with friends, it’s easy to ignore the work that must have gone into such a phenomenally huge building, although less easy to escape the feeling of being so gut-wrenchingly high off the ground.
At 484 m (1,588 ft), the ICC is by no means the tallest building in the world, not by a long shot. It pales in comparison to the Khalifa Tower in Dubai, which stands at a mammoth 829.8 m (2,722 ft) tall. What’s even crazier is the idea of the proposed Dubai City Tower, which, should it ever come to fruition, could reach a staggering 2,400 m (7,874 ft). The mind boggles at the mere prospect of such a structure, and this raises the question, how is such a building even possible? How can you even begin to plan for a structure that would extend more than a mile into the air?
In answer to this we turn to the structural engineer, the persona behind the building, responsible for taking materials from a mere pile of components, to a fully functional structure. Structural engineering, although often lumped into the same category as architecture, is far removed from the realms of beauty and design and instead takes the strategy behind construction into account. In Structural Engineering: A Very Short Introduction, David Blockey delves into the world of the structural engineer, with a brief glimpse into the science and engineering behind how large manmade objects are created.
This review was first published on WordPress for E&T magazine