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Height: The Latest Architecture and News

The 10 Different Ways to Measure a Skyscraper's Height

09:30 - 12 October, 2017
The 10 Different Ways to Measure a Skyscraper's Height, From left to right: One World Trade Center, image © James Ewing; Burj Khalifa, image © <a href='https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Burj_Khalifa.jpg'>Wikimedia user Donaldytong</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a>; Taipei 101, image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Taipei_101_from_afar.jpg'>Wikimedia user peellden</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a>; Shanghai Tower, image © Gensler/Shen Zhonghai.
From left to right: One World Trade Center, image © James Ewing; Burj Khalifa, image © Wikimedia user Donaldytong licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0; Taipei 101, image © Wikimedia user peellden licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0; Shanghai Tower, image © Gensler/Shen Zhonghai.

How do we determine the actual height of a building? Where do we place the dimension line? The history of measuring skyscrapers dates back to 1885, way before AutoCAD or Revit dimensions, when the Home Insurance Building in Chicago was among the first to boast of being the world's tallest building, but the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)—or the Joint Committee on Tall Buildings, as it was originally called—wasn’t formed until 1969. Recognized by many as the foremost authority on tall buildings, the CTBUH is often cited in determining the world’s (or country’s or city’s) tallest building. However, the CTBUH is not the only organization with a stake in measuring buildings; the global building information database Emporis is also a major player. Between them, these two organizations provide 10 different ways to determine a skyscraper's height, which we have summarized below.