Vanity Height, CTBUH Study, Tall Buildings Around the World, Skyscraper Design

CTBUH Study on Vanity Height

Tower Architecture Investigation – by The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

Sep 6, 2013

Skyscraper Design Study

The “Use-less” Space in Today’s Tallest Buildings

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has investigated the increasing trend towards extreme spires and other extensions of supertall (300-meter-plus) buildings that do not enclose usable space, and created a new term to describe this – Vanity Height, the distance between a skyscraper’s highest occupiable floor and its architectural top, as determined by CTBUH Height Criteria.

Vanity Height Study: CTBUH Tower Architecture
image from CTBUH

Here are some key findings of the study:

At 244 meters, the vanity height of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE, could be a skyscraper on its own – in fact, it would be Europe’s 11th-tallest building.

The Burj Al-Arab, Dubai, UAE, has the greatest vanity ratio of any supertall building – 124 (39 percent) of its 321 meters is devoted to nonoccupiable space above the highest occupiable floor.

Without their vanity height, 44 (61 percent) of the world’s 72 supertalls would measure less than 300 meters – thus losing their supertall status.

United Arab Emirates clocks in as the nation with the most “vain” supertall buildings, with an average vanity height of 19 percent.

New York City, USA has two of the tallest 10 vanity heights, and is set to gain a third with the completion of One World Trade Center in 2014.

Vanity Height Infographics:

Vanity Height Study Vanity Height Study by CTBUH Vanity Height CTBUH Study Tower Architecture Investigation - by The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
images from CTBUH

According to CTBUH Height Criteria regarding telecommunications towers, a 50 percent vanity height would deem any structure a “nonbuilding.”

The “vainest” building overall in the CTBUH database, although not a supertall, is the Ukraina Hotel in Moscow, Russia – 42 percent of its 206-meter height is non-occupiable.

Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
Vanity Height Study
photo : Nicolas Lannuzel

Zifeng Tower, Nanjing, China
Vanity Height Study
photo : Ozonefrance

Bank of America Tower, New York City, NY, USA
Vanity Height Study
photo : Ryan Browne

Burj al Arab, Dubai, UAE
Vanity Height Study Vanity Height Study
photo : Joi Ito

Emirates Towers, Dubai, UAE
Emirates Towers Dubai
photo : Alma

New York Times Tower, New York City, NY, USA
New York Times Tower
photo : Eden Janine and Jim

Rose Rayhaan, Dubai, UAE
Rose Rayhaan Dubai
photo : Paul Fenwick

The Pinnacle, Guangzhou, China
The Pinnacle Guangzhou
photo : IndexxRus

Minsheng Bank Tower, Wuhan, China
Minsheng Bank Tower Wuhan
photo from CTBUH

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat Tower Architecture Investigation information / images from CTBUH

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New York by Gehry
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Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

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