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Experts on Building Heights

BuildingHeights.org has assembled a worldwide team of experts with deep understanding and a long track record of researching, maintaining, and evaluating technical building data. The people behind this site are fanatics about research, who often visit construction sites, contact professionals for data, and sometimes measure buildings directly using precision instruments.

Using the uniform "building mass height" definition, we have made it possible to compare heights between buildings of any shape anywhere in the world, in a more fair way than ever before, with the result of providing intuitive statistics on tall buildings worldwide. If you like what we are doing, please talk about us on the Internet and join the discussion.

As a result of creating the building mass height formula, the ranking of the world's tallest buildings has changed.
  • Who We Are

  • BuildingHeights.org
  • We are a team of building height experts supported by the mass media and companies in the building industry who share our desire for accurate and comparable building data.
  • What We Do

  • Floorplan
  • We are implementing and popularizing a uniform definition of building heights that is more acceptable to the general public and can be adopted by anyone. We also publish height rankings using our definition.

History

Measurement of building heights has been a controversial topic since 1998, when the Petronas Towers took the "world's tallest building" title from the Sears Tower by virtue of their spires, which reached higher than the Sears Tower's roof. Since then, opinions have differed widely between people who want to count spires (or even antennas) in the height, and those who would only count the enclosed portion of a building up to its roof.

To resolve the dispute, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) created 4 different height categories, each one designed to please proponents of a particular method of measuring buildings. Each of these categories chose a different point as the official top of a building: the "tip" (including antennas and lightning rods); the "architectural top" (highest designed element); the "roof" (top of the enclosure"; and "highest occupied floor" (highest floorplate used by tenants).

Ideally, rankings could be displayed in 4 parallel lists to please everyone. However, nearly every publication finds it necessary to default to one particular system to avoid confusion - and over time the "architectural height" has won out in nearly every venue. Furthermore, since 1998 many very tall buildings have been constructed with spires, many of which hardly look like extensions of the building's form. Even proponents of counting ornamental features have expressed feelings that the rankings were being corrupted and meant less than before.

The researchers behind BuildingHeights.org, who are among the most active researchers worldwide in building statistics, came up with the present solution: to count ornamental features only when they flow from the form of a building. We will continue to collect heights in all other categories as well, as each serves its purpose. The new category of "building mass height" is designed as the optimal ranking height, as it seems to provide the fairest comparison between different shapes of buildings.

Skyscrapers of Puerto Madero Four Seasons Hotel & Tower, Miami, Florida, USA Skyscrapers on the eastern side of Sheikh Zayed Road Downtown skyline from Bethune Park in North Minneapolis

Benefits and Advantages

The greatest advantage of the rule for building mass heights is a more intuitive comparison of buildings. The definition favors building elements that make an architectural impact on the skyline, and disregards features that appear to cheat. Ultimately this benefits anyone who cares about height rankings, including neighborhood organizations, urban planners, and zoning authorities as well as architecture fans and people interested in statistics about the built environment.

We encourage anyone listing building heights to adopt the building mass height definition as the primary criterion for height rankings. By doing so, you are helping to promote greater public acceptability of height figures, as well as synchronization with the most actively maintained databases of tall buildings. It also underscores your interest in making height figures more objective and uniform.

Anyone may use the height definition or the individual heights for listed buildings. Both are released for free reproduction under a CC-BY-SA license. You are invited to spread the figures in publications or your own website. Also, please help to update heights wherever appropriate in other publications and wikis.

If you like what we are doing, please spread the word.

If you need the logo of BuildingHeights.org, you can download the logo here.

A big thank you goes to the researchers of BuildingHeights.org, and the people who have submitted valuable updates to us. Please visit the websites of our sponsors and media partners (see footer).

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