Just as a sugary dollop of frosting can double the height of a cupcake, it turns out that today’s tallest skyscrapers are topped with useless space to inflate their height. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) just released a report revealing the sheer amount of unnecessary “vanity space” added to the top of the world’s tallest buildings. The takeaway? Almost a third of the superstructures’ height is composed of useless space.
What prompted this expose of building egos? CTBUH, the world’s leading authority on skyscrapers, said: “We noticed in Journal 2013 Issue I’s case study on Kingdom Tower, Jeddah [currently under construction] that a fair amount of the top of the building seemed to be an unoccupied spire. This prompted us to explore the notion of ‘vanity height’ in super tall buildings, i.e., the distance between a skyscraper’s highest occupiable floor and its architectural top”
The Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building at 2,716 feet – but it’s hardly exceptional without its 800-foot spire (which could be a skyscraper in its own right). The Ukraina Hotel in Moscow is the world’s vainest skyscraper, with 42% of the building’s 675 foot height being superfluous space. And among the “super tall” skyscrapers, or skyscrapers taller than 984 feet, the Burj Al-Arab in Dubai tops the list as vainest with 39% of its 1,053-foot height being unoccupiable. Not surprisingly, the United Arab Emirates holds the dubious distinction of having the highest number of vain skyscrapers, with an average of 19% vanity height across its tallest buildings.