Introduction

When you walk around in the city of Beijing it’s hard to avoid all building sites. Everywhere there are cranes, scaffoldings and a lot of construction workers, many of them only in the city as workers on building sites. Looking from above when a shift ends is like looking down on an anthill. For people that has not been visiting Beijing for some years, it’s almost like a new city! Everywhere in the city new buildings and complexes take form and many of them in the form as skyscrapers.

Our book is intended for those who would like to know a little bit more about the skyscrapers of Beijing and Chinese architecture. It contains pictures, facts, interviews, location maps and diagrams over skyscrapers that match our criteria of being called a skyscraper.

A skyscraper is a very tall, continuously habitable building. There is no official definition or a precise height above which a building may clearly be classified as a skyscraper. However, an usual practice in many cities is using an empirical definition dependance on the relative impact of the shape of a building to a city’s overall skyline. Thus, depending on the average height of the rest of the buildings or structures in a city, even a building of 80.0 meters height (262 ft) could be considered being a skyscraper.

A loose convention in the United States and Europe now draws the lower limit of a skyscraper at 150 meters (500 ft) and a skyscraper taller than 300 m/984 ft is referred to as supertall. Thus Beijing has one supertall skyscraper, World Trade Center Tower 3 who is 330.0 m/1.083 ft high. Shorter buildings are as we say before still referred to as skyscrapers if they appear to dominate their surroundings. We have included some of them in our book like for example Kerry Center complex (124.0 m/407 ft) and Tengda Building (123.1 m/404 ft).

The word skyscraper originally was a nautical term referring to a tall mast or its main sail on a sailing ship. The term was first applied to buildings in the late 19th century as a result of public amazement at the tall buildings being built in Chicago and New York City.

The structural definition of the word skyscraper was refined later by architectural historians, based on engineering developments of the 1880s that had enabled construction of tall multi-storey buildings. This definition was based on the steel skeleton. The steel frame developed in stages of increasing self-sufficiency, advancing the technology that allowed the steel frame to carry a building on its own. Today, however, many of the tallest skyscrapers are built almost entirely with reinforced concrete. With pumps and storage tanks that maintains water pressure at the top of the building.

The somewhat arbitrary term skyscraper should not be confused with the slightly less arbitrary term highrise, defined by the Emporis Standards Committee as “…a multi-storey structure with at least 12 floors or 35 meters (115 feet) in height.”

Some structural engineers define a highrise as any vertical construction for which wind is a more significant load factor than weight. Note that this criterion fits not only high rises but some other tall structures, such as towers. Thus we have not included, The China Central Television CCTV Tower. The Tip of antenna is 405.0 m/1.329 ft). With an observation deck at 238.0 m/781 ft. CCTV Tower is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers.

The word skyscraper often carries a connotation of pride and achievement. Often used in order to make marketing and advertise cities. The skyscraper, in name and social function, is a modern expression of the age-old symbol of the world center or axis mundi: a pillar that connects earth to heaven and the four compass directions to one another.

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