10 key considerations when constructing tall buildings

10 key considerations when constructing tall buildings

You likely came here to learn how tall buildings are constructed. But first, let’s consider the process involved in building a tall building. 

Tall building construction projects are risky investments, from financing or from the construction point of view. So many things have to be taken into account between the time you start the project and the time you hand it over to the client. A plethora of local regulations, as well as the evolving standard of highrise buildings, add to your challenges.With so much at stake, what should be your main areas of concern and how should you address them, in order to meet the expectations of your clients? We discuss seven major construction considerations for tall buildings that must be taken into account in order to meet client expectations, but before that let’s understand what defines a high-rise building :

High-rise buildings are tall buildings, and depending on the jurisdiction their height is defined differently. They serve as residences, office buildings, or a combination of residence and office, hotels, and retail uses. Tower blocks are another name for residential high-rise structures, and the term “MDUs,” which stands for “multi-dwelling unit,” is also sometimes used. A skyscraper is a very tall high-rise structure.

Although a building with forty or more stories and a height of more than 150 m (490 ft) is typically regarded as a skyscraper, there is no discernible difference between a tower block and a skyscraper.

High-rise building foundations should be strong enough to support very heavy gravity loads, and they are typically made up of sunk concrete piers, piles, or caissons. The need to adopt the correct construction techniques is extremely important since high-rise buildings withstand the lateral forces imposed by winds and potential earthquakes.

High-rise buildings necessitate using a mechanical vertical transportation system, such as elevators, and the careful provision of life-safety systems due to their height and large occupant populations. Fire-prevention standards should be strict, and adequate means of egress should be provided in the event of a fire, power outage, or other accident.

10 Primary Considerations For Construction Of  Tall Buildings

These primary construction considerations will also help you know the construction methodology for tall buildings. Let’s dive in.

#1. Assessment of the Site and Compliance with Regulations

The key to successful construction work is knowledge of the local compliance requirements and geological realities of your building location, and taking them into account. When it comes to tall buildings, height restrictions, city design preferences, and other requirements, such as LEED compliance, should be double-checked to ensure compliance.

In terms of geology, you must collect survey data (e.g., soil stress-strain, groundwater dynamics, etc.) on the area’s ability to withstand the loads on highrise buildings.

#2. Integrity of Structure

Structural integrity is defined by the capacity of a structure and its elements to remain intact while being subjected to a load, including its own weight, without breakage or deformation. It guarantees that the building will function as intended for the duration of its intended lifespan when put under reasonable load.

To ensure structural integrity, double-check elements such as your building’s spatial rigidity and load-bearing capacity. Validating the vertical and horizontal load-bearing of the structure is critical because it will be disastrous to jeopardize the building’s overall integrity due to the accidental loss of a few internal load-bearing structures.

In most cases, a civil engineer will be present to perform these calculations. In practise, structural integrity issues should appear as design criteria in your CAD system. It is critical that you address them during the design process.

#3. MEP (Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing)

MEP infrastructure may be one of the most complicated internal design elements in high-rise building design. The three technical fields of MEP, or mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering, include the systems that make building interiors suitable for occupancy. Whether it’s a 50-story building or a lab to work in, MEP systems transform buildings from empty structures into cozy, hospitable places that are livable. MEP systems, in general, include the following:

  • Lighting
  • Elevators
  • Telecommunications Infrastructure
  • Heating
  • Water Supply and Management Fire Protection
  • Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
  • Systems for Waste Disposal

To distribute air to each floor and room of the building, an HVAC system, for example, will require a ductwork system. In addition, you must connect the HVAC system to the electrical and water supply/management system.

#4. Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency can be optimized by an appropriate design of MEP. If you are in charge of achieving LEED certification for your highrise, you will need to identify ways to reduce your building’s electricity and water consumption. You can make significant inroads by focusing on the largest energy user.

For example, an HVAC system in an office building may consume up to 39% of the total energy consumed (lighting consumes 25%).

By incorporating an underfloor air distribution (UFAD)–based HVAC system, you can save up to 30% on energy costs. UFAD systems reduce energy consumption by diffusing air from the floor level, i.e., closest to the occupant, by leveraging raised access floors.

#5. Comfort of the occupants

To increase occupants’ comfort, you must consider both good indoor air quality (IAQ) and improved designs for thermal and acoustic comfort. An efficient HVAC solution can address all three.

An UFAD-based HVAC system, for example, will diffuse warm air from the floor (i.e., closest to the occupant) and use the natural upward flow of warm air to heat the room. The occupants do not need to crank up their fans to full blast (and put up with the noise) to stay warm.

Similarly, HVAC with ductwork is required to remove polluted air from rooms and replace it with freshly conditioned air.

#6. Aesthetic Value

You can influence the visual appeal of the building’s exterior through design and material selection. In the interior design, raised access floors can be used to house HVAC ductwork as well as electrical wiring and cables, to free up floor space and provide it with a neat and tidy appearance.

It is obvious that HVAC systems have a significant impact on the design of a high-rise building. However, integrating HVAC systems into the design of your building is a complex task that might put your project at risk of delays and cost overruns.

#7. Sustainability and environmental friendliness

The energy savings gained from an efficient HVAC system (along with other methods such as encouraging the use of natural sunlight) will increase the green friendliness of your building.

The HVAC system alone will reduce electricity consumption and water waste.

You can also improve your sustainability by choosing eco-friendly suppliers and sustainable materials such as recycled steel, insulated concrete forms, and so on.

#8. Enclosure technology

High-rise buildings typically have curtain walls as their enclosure system, just like low-rise buildings. However, thicker glazing and more focus on sealants are necessary due to the higher wind pressures and the effects of vortex shedding. 

Due to the larger area of enclosed surfaces, thermal movements as well as wind- and seismic-induced movements must be taken into account. Another issue with window washing in large structures with fixed glass is the requirement for fixed vertical tracks or other attachments for window-washing platforms in curtain walls. High-rise interior finishes resemble low-rise interior finishes very closely.

#9. Life-safety equipment

Stairways serve as vertical emergency exits in life-safety systems that are similar to those found in low-rise buildings; in the event of a fire, all elevators are automatically shut down to prevent people from becoming trapped inside. 

For the purpose of rescuing people trapped in elevators due to a power outage, emergency generator systems are available. Other essential building functions like emergency lighting and fire pumps are also supported by generators. Sprinklers are frequently part of fire suppression systems, but if they are not required by building codes, a separate piping system with electric pumps is provided to keep pressure up and supply water to fire hose cabinets located throughout the building. At street level, there are also exterior connections for mobile fire truck pumps. 

#10. Vertical Transportation

Systems for vertical transportation are crucial in high-rise structures. Escalators are used to move large groups of people over short distances on lower floors. 

A few retail or educational buildings have escalators that can rise as high as ten stories. In tall buildings, the roped elevator serves as the main means of vertical transportation. A direct current electric motor drives the elevator, which raises and lowers the cab in a shaft using wire ropes that cross several sheaves at the motor and the cab. The ropes’ ends are connected to a sliding counterweight that travels up and down the same shaft as the cab, which saves energy. 

Hope this blog has given you useful insights into how high-rise buildings are constructed. For more information, please write to us at [email protected]


1: What defines a high-rise building?

High-rise buildings, also known as skyscrapers, are large buildings that can house offices, residences, hotels, and retail establishments among other uses. Depending on the jurisdiction, a high-rise building may be any structure that rises to a height greater than 150 meters (490 feet). The distinction between a tower block and a skyscraper, however, is frequently imperceptible.

2: How can construction projects ensure compliance with local regulations?

Building high-rise structures requires strict adherence to local ordinances. It’s critical to fully comprehend the regional building codes, height restrictions, and preferred design aesthetics in order to satisfy these requirements. To ensure complete compliance, additional factors like LEED compliance and the building site’s geological suitability should be evaluated. In this process, local knowledge, authority consultations, and meticulous documentation are crucial.

3: What measures ensure the structural integrity of tall buildings?

Tall buildings’ structural integrity is crucial to ensuring the long-term functionality and safety of those structures. Spatial rigidity, load-bearing capacity, and architectural design all need to be carefully considered in order to preserve this integrity. Professional civil engineers typically perform structural calculations to verify the structure’s capacity to support loads, and these factors ought to be taken into account during the initial design phase of the building.

4: How do MEP systems impact the design and functionality of tall buildings?

MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) systems have a huge impact in the design and functionality of tall buildings. MEP systems include  crucial elements such as lighting, elevators, telecommunications infrastructure, heating, water supply and management, fire protection, and ventilation. 

5: What strategies can be used to improve energy efficiency in tall buildings?

Through careful MEP design, energy efficiency in tall buildings can be increased. Reduced use of electricity, water, and possibly HVAC systems, which can contribute significantly to energy use, should be the primary goals. For instance, HVAC systems with underfloor air distribution (UFAD) can reduce energy costs by as much as 30%. 

Utilizing natural sunlight and materials like recycled steel and insulated concrete forms can be used to make the building more eco-friendly.