Most of World's Tallest Buildings Rely on 'Vanity Height'

For 61%, useless space gets them to the magic number

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 10, 2013 4:42 PM CDT | Updated Sep 14, 2013 12:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – How do architects get their buildings into the ranks of the world's tallest? Stick an ornamental spire on top. A new study picked up by i09.com shows just how common the practice is: Of the world's 77 "supertall" buildings—those above 300 meters, or 984 feet—44 achieve the status through what's known as "vanity height." That's defined in the study from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat as the distance from a building's "highest occupiable floor and its architectural top."

Consider it "the architectural equivalent of wearing platform shoes," writes Gwynn Guilford at Quartz. The worst offender by percentage is the Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai, with 39% of its total height deemed useless. New York City will soon have three in the top 10, however: One World Trade Center will be at 30% when it's completed, behind the New York Times Tower (31%) and the Bank of America Tower (36%).

The Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai is the 'most vain' building in the study: About 39% of its height is non-occupiable space.
The Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai is the 'most vain' building in the study: About 39% of its height is non-occupiable space.   (?)
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