Our law office is on the 67th floor of the Columbia Center (formerly Bank of America Tower and Columbia Sea First Center). The building has 76 floors and is the tallest building in the Pacific Northwest region. It is 932 feet in height. Yet,it is dwarfed by the ten tallest buildings in the world. In Dubai the tallest skyscraper is 2717 feet. In Saudi Arabia the tallest building is 1,971 feet. Malaysia has two twin skyscrapers both 1,483 feet high. Number nine on the list is the Willis Tower, formerly Sears Tower, which is 1,450 feet tall.

So,where did the term skyscraper come from? The term was first used in the 1880s after the first 10 to
Seattle_ColumbiaTowerBankAmericaTowerAugust200020 story buildings were built in the United States. It wasn't until 1913 when the world's tallest building opened as the Woolworth Building at 793 feet tall.

These buildings wouldn't have been possible except for an American,William Kelly, who had a patent for a system of air blowing carbon out of pig iron in steel construction. However, his bankruptcy allowed an Englishman, Henry Bessemer to buy the patent and then invent a process for mass-producing steel inexpensively which was essential for the construction of skyscrapers.

 The person who developed the way to build real skyscrapers is George Fuller (1851 – 1900). Fuller developed a system for improved load bearing capacities of tall buildings. Using Bessemer steel beams, Fuller created steel cages that supported all the weight. For the first time all of steel beams were fixed together with rivits. Using this system Fuller built the Tacoma Building in Chicago in 1889, the first real skyscraper. Fuller became so successful that when he died in 1900 he left an estate of $3 Million which was a fortune at that time.

But, what about the tallest man made structure in the world, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper? Construction started in September of 2004 and the building officially opened in January of 2010 in downtown Dubai. The cost? A mere $1.5 Billion U.S. dollars. At the time of it's opening the global  financial crisis was in full swing with high vacancies and foreclosures. Dubai was so far in debt it was forced to seek multibillion dollar bailouts from it's oil rich neighbor Abu Dhab which explains why the original name was changed to honor the  President of Abu Dhab's for his financial support. Some ten months after its opening the occupancy was only 40% and 825 of the 900 apartments were vacant. But, it's reported 80% are now occupied. 

To support 162 floors, the building uses a new structural system "the buttressed core" consisting  of a hexagonal core reinforced by buttresses that form a "Y" shape. This system results in the building supporting itself and keeps it from twisting. More than 1000 pieces of art are on the interior walls. The residential lobby has cymbals, plated with 18 carat gold, which sound as water drips on them. There are 26,000 glass panels on the exterior of the 162 floors of the building. The entire building is an amazing engineering marvel.

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