FAQs on Building Heights

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Frequently Asked Questions

What does BuildingHeights.org do?
We publish universal rules for calculating heights of tall buildings and skyscrapers. The definition we have developed takes architectural features into account to produce sensible and intuitive height rankings.
How do you research building heights?
The only reliable sources for building heights are technical drawings and direct measurement. Technical drawings released in the early stages of planning and construction need to be re-checked after a building is topped out. Our researchers invest a lot of time visiting construction sites around the world, checking blueprints in architects' offices, or when necessary getting readings from involved companies through email and phone contacts. We always try to verify that the reading accounts for the correct base elevation.
Who is involved in BuildingHeights.org?
BuildingHeights.org is a not-for-profit partnership between Skyscraperpage and Phorio. Skyscraperpage is a very popular website featuring a huge database of skyscraper diagrams, as well as a heavily used discussion forum. Phorio is a global database of standardized data on all kinds of buildings, with interactive maps, photos, company listings, and search features. Most of the research for BuildingHeights.org is conducted by forum members at Skyscraperpage and editors of Phorio.
Why does it matter how building heights are measured?
Many people, for various reasons, want to compare buildings with each other - planners and neighborhood groups want benchmarks for allowable heights in their areas; architecture fans like to rank buildings in a skyline and compare skylines against each other; fans of heights and the media want to know the tallest buildings in various places or categories.
Why don't antennas count in the definition?
They do count, but in a different category ("tip height") which is generally presented as a secondary method for ranking buildings. Utility equipment like antennas, lightning rods, flagpoles, signs, and satellite dishes do not count in the main height listing because they are essentially "furniture" that can be removed or replaced at any time. Only permanent parts of a building that belong to its design are counted.
What about protruding planes, such as screen walls?
Screen walls, fins, parapets, and other vertical planes extending from the roof of a building are counted in its height, because they clearly extend its visual impact on the skyline and require more structural support than a simple spire. Unfortunately this opens a window for various forms of "cheating" to add height to a building, so a future refinement of this rule may address this problem if it becomes necessary.
What is the rule for the base of a building?
On flat ground there is little question where a height measurement should start, but when a building is built on sloping ground, or along a riverbank, or in an area with raised streets, then there are all kinds of possible interpretations. Basically speaking, buildings are measured from ground level in front of the lowest exposed entrance. However a street-level entrance is preferred to one facing a sunken plaza (which is considered an artificial lowering of the ground level).
Does this definition measure only tall buildings?
No, it's meant for all types of buildings. People will occasionally want to compare shorter buildings with the world's tallest, and any comparison makes sense only if there's a consistent standard of measurement. The sponsors of BuildingHeights.org list in their own databases hundreds of thousands more buildings than are shown here, and the same rules apply regardless of height.
How can I help to drive further implementation of this definition?
If you, like many others, see this definition as the most logical and satisfying way to compare building heights, we welcome your help in spreading its implementation. You can use heights based on this rule in wikis; you can blog about our definition or share it in social media; or if you work in traditional media you can spread the word.
Which buildings are affected by the new rule?
Although most smaller high-rises are not affected at all, this rule affects many very famous and prominent tall buildings. Based on their old rankings when their spires were counted, the following are the 10 tallest buildings to lose ranking as a result of this rule
Can I download all building heights?
Yes, all data is released under a Creative Commons license. You can download all building heights for free if you show BuildingHeights.org as a source for it.
Is there a way to submit missing heights?
Yes, you can submit missing heights or send a change request. To do so, please get in contact with us.
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