Thursday, April 03, 2008


Not to let Dubai hog all the limelight, yet another disgustingly rich arab guy has decided that the way into the Western world's heart is to build huge fuck-off buildings. My first point is that, no, I'm sorry, it doesn't work that way. The average Westerner has a hard time remembering where Paris is, much less the conglomerate of sand-covered metropoleis that these men call home. You do not "buy" your way out of being a backwater, horrid culture by spending your oil money to build the very shimmering towers of excess that so many in your countries decry. You will remain "those fellers that wear towels on their heads" to most of American for many, many years. And, in my eyes, you remain a bunch of savages as long as you have separate entrances for men and women.

But enough about that, the mile-high tower is very cool. It's sad, too. I was hoping that America would be the first to build the mile tower with the Illinois, Frank Lloyd Wright's swan song. Ah well, how they overcome a number of design issues is of immense interest to me.
  • The temperature between the top of the building and the bottom is going to be immense. Aside from the fact they're in the fucking desert, a mile difference straight up is going to play havoc with the materials used. Most buildings aren't used to 20-30 degree differences at the same time.

  • In the Illinois, the height would require an immense number of elevators to reach the upper floors. So many that a large portion of the lower floors and even middle floors would be taken up just servicing elevators. Large towers, today, have express elevators that reach certain levels which allow people to take slower, smaller elevators to their desired floor. Still, a mile high would require multiple stops, and express elevator speeds close to 60mph. Even still, times to get to your desired floor could be in excess of thirty minutes.

    Would they follow FLW's idea of massive, five-story elevators on the outside of the building? An elevator that large would have to make so many stops for all its passengers that you would be in the elevator for an eternity waiting to get to the top.

  • Just getting stuff moved around the building is an amazing problem. Getting water to the large population above is an engineering feat in and of itself. Would they let the waste water down and run generators from its flow to power more water up? Would they have recycling centers in the upper floors? Would they store reservoirs that would supply peak usage times and recharge during down time?

  • Materials! What the hell would they make it out of, or I should say, of what the hell would they make it? Steal flexes a lot, as does aluminum. Would they use composite materials, such as the layered fibers with which they make plane fuselages? Giant beams of reinforced carbon fiber could certainly fit the bill, but they aren't very resistant to heat. A good, two/three-inch coating of fire-resistant material could do it.

  • Powering the beast is another immense challenge. The size of the power infrastructure to get electricity to the upper regions would be amazing.

This reminds me a lot of Sky City, the never-realized super project to be built in the heart of Tokyo. It was on that show on Discovery that also had the floating city that was a mile long. I think the primary importance of this building, if it does get built, is the answer to all those technical questions. We're covering the globe with the pestilence that is us, and we have to build up. Towers measured in miles are truly the future of our species, and if our addiction to oil is what funds it, I can think of no better use for the money than our very survival.

P.S. Did I use the word immense, enough?

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