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 semi-rigid
steel frame. The semi-rigid steel frame was held together with steel beams and
connected by rivets. (Bennett, P.42) The 60 stories high First Wisconsin Center,

Milwaukee, USA in 1974 employed the steel belt truss with framed shear truss.

This structure used the horizontal trusses at the upper and lower stories to
enhance the framed shear truss. (Bennett, P.44) The Sears Tower, Chicago, USA,
in 1974, 110 stories high used the Bundled tube. The bundled tubes were made up
of a cluster of connected frame tubes, reinforced by steel beams at each story
to increase the strength of the structure. Various tubes terminated at different
level to further strengthen the bundled tubes at the center. (Bennett, P.44) The
future structure was the Superframe, which can reaches at least 150 stories
high. It used the concept of the Eiffel Tower with framed tubes connected by
horizontal trusses. (Bennett, P.45) It was the innovation of the structural
design that enables skyscrapers to reach new height. These methods include the
use of steel belted truss, cross members to reinforce the structure. Heating and
air conditioning played an important role in the structure of skyscrapers. They
are the key units that control the inside atmosphere of all skyscrapers. In the
early days, the heat sources in the building came from fireplaces and stoves.

Later on heat in the building supplied by the hot water boiler. The boiler heats
up the water and sends it out to the radiators through a system of pipes. This
was later replaced by central heating furnace with ventilation ducts that
channel heat to various areas of the building. Air conditioning is defined as a
mechanical process for controlling humidity, and temperature of air in room. (

Air condition is originated from refrigeration. The process of refrigeration is
to draw heat away from substances to lower their temperature. In the operation
of an air conditioning unit, air is blow across a cooling pipe and the waste
heat is carried away by the flow of cold water in the pipes. The cooled air is
carried out through the ventilation ducts to various parts of the building.

Today, the skyscrapers use the central heating system with ventilation ducts
that can be shared with the heating and air conditioning system. Engineers are
working on new ways to make heating and air conditioning more efficient and
environmental friendly. This would reduce the cost of energy bill on these
skyscrapers. The cost of building a skyscraper is in hundred million dollars in
the current market. The skyscraper is well known for its great height and the
social status comes with it. In general, large company or firm would host its
head office in these skyscrapers. For example Chrysler had its head office in
the Chrysler Building, owned by Chrysler which is one of the big three auto
makers. (Bennett, P.71) The Sears Tower, the head office for Sears and owned by

Sears. It was known for being the worlds’ tallest skyscraper in Chicago.
(Bennett, P.24) Tenants expect clients to know where they are located when they
tell them the Sears Tower as their location. These skyscrapers are own by the
wealthy individuals whom are in the upper level of financial social status.

There is a sense of prestige for having offices or shops in these skyscrapers.

Modern skyscrapers are being redefined by the use of advance technologies. Due
to the advancement in technology, skyscrapers are able to reach new height
easily. It changes the way architects design the structure of these buildings.

The new function of the skyscraper is to provide great views, house antennas for
communications, telebroadcasting and for entertainment purpose. The use of
computer climate control system made the building a more comfortable environment
for everyone. The great height of the skyscraper like the Sears Tower, it
associates itself with the prestige of being the tallest of all. With the rapid
advancement of technology and the influence of fame and wealth, sky is limit for
the next generation of skyscrapers.



David. Skyscrapers Form & Function New York 1995 Conway, Hazel and Rowan,

Roenisch. Understanding Architecture: An introduction to Architecture and
architectural History. London and New York: Routledge 1994. O’Gorman, James.

ABC of Architecture Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998 Online May 15, 1999