World's 'Tallest' Buildings May Be Cheating The System To Surpass Older Structures: Report


The skyline view of Chicago with the Willis Tower. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The current crop of “tallest” buildings in the world may have cheated their way to the top, gaming the system to beat old-guard skyscrapers like the Sears (ugh, Willis) Tower, according to a new report.

Several buildings scraping the sky worldwide are doing so through what the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat calls “vanity height,” or the distance between a skyscraper’s “highest unoccupiable floor and its architectural top.”

According to the CTBUH’s report, 61 percent of the world’s supertall buildings need vanity height to even qualify.

“The trend means that many towers now appearing on lists of super-tall buildings actually have fewer floors than the old behemoths they are knocking out of the top ranks,” according to the Associated Press.

Among the world’s worst offenders: The Burj al Arab in Dubai, The Ukraina Hotel in Moscow and CITIC Plaza in Guangzhou, China.

In North America, New York City is among the biggest proponents of “vanity” spires, according to Quartz. The Bank of America Tower has 36 percent of its height tied up in useless vanity feet, the New York Times Tower has 31 percent of the same, and One World Trade Center — which technically surpassed the Sears (Willis! Fine!) this year as North America’s “tallest” — has 30 percent unoccupied space.

Chicago’s gem, completed in 1973, is 1,451 feet tall and boasts 108 occupied floors compared to the new World Trade Center in New York City, completed this year and standing at 1,776 feet but with just 104 usable floors.

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