skyscraper architecture

The architectural design of the 20th century skyscrapers has been redefined due to the advancement of our modern technology.
Benny Louie
Humanity 450 Dr. Maureen Schmid 17 May 1999
The architectural design of the 20th century skyscrapers has been redefined due to the advancement of our modern technology. In our modern society, the architectural design of skyscrapers is changing the downtown landscape of metropolitan areas. Due to the change of technologies, it has changed the architectural design of skyscraper dramatically in terms of the its function, design structures, heating and cooling systems and it social status in society. The basic function of the architecture is to provide a roof over peoples’ head. The main purpose of architecture is to act as a shelter for people to protect themselves against Mother Nature. As civilization development advances, we increased our knowledge and became more creative. People start to design buildings for means of displaying wealth and social status. The skyscraper fits the criteria to show the social status of such building with great height and elegance to the society. According to O’Gorman, “architecture is a form language, of communication.” (P.89) This communication is represented in the forms of texture, shape and style that reflects certain period of time. In the early period, architectures were associated with style and culture. “The Greeks built marble temples with Doric, Ionic or Corinthian columns. Egyptian architecture used heavy lotus columns, massive battered walls and pyramidal forms. The Gothic style used point arch, vast areas of stained glasses, pointed rib-vault construction.” (P. 92) Each had its unique characteristic feature to express its message. In the 20th century architectural design, architecture is no longer viewed as simple shelter to provide a roof over peoples’ head. Architectures are designed with a more environmental conscious issue like cost, energy conservation and practicality of the structure. The interior environment is designed according to the space function of the structures. For example, “a dance hall, needs a large open-space with sufficient room for the band and a bar and maybe for tables and chairs around the edge so that people can sit and chat.” (Conway & Rowan) This concept always applies to real life situations. People don’t rent more space than what they needed for. For example, a three person family will not rent a 3 bedroom apartment, unless they are financially well off. In a Victorian house, there are different corridors for different users. The servants don’t use the same passage as the owners’ family. (Conway & Rowan, P.4) This is similar to large hotels, employees have to use the employees entrance to access the building. These passages are not well maintained as the front of the house. “The interior environment should be safe for working, living or housing objects.” (Conway & Rowan, P.17) This means that building should be at a comfortable temperature, with sufficient lighting, ability to control the transmission of noise, provide enough space for pipes, wires and ventilation ducts. Overall the architects has to take in consideration of the climates differences and regional variations of the building in designing a suitable interior environment for today’s standard. The skyscraper is defined as a “building with exceptional height completely support by a frame-work, as of girders, from which the walls are suspended, as opposed to a building supported by load-bearing walls.” ( The function of the skyscraper is serve as a commercial purpose. The Sears Tower is fine example of it, not only the being headquarter for Sears and Roebuck company but it also has an observation deck for the public. The skyscraper has always associated with wealth and power. To the general public, big is good; in terms of building, the taller the better. People had been fascinated with skyscraper ever since the birth of the first skyscraper in 1895. It was a 10-stories high steel frame structure designed by William Le Baron Jenney in 1885, named “Home Insurance Building.” (Bennett, P.40) Over the year as steel and concrete production technologies reach a higher level, architects use these new materials to reach greater height in the design of skyscrapers. The improvement of the skyscraper structures starts from 10 floor stories to high as 150 floor stories high. The Reliance Building Chicago, USA, in 1895, 15 stories high used the