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hen it comes to height, architects and builders become very competitive. The skyscraper building boom in New York City

during the nineteen twenties and thirties is the best documented example of tower building one-upmanship. The Chrysler Building, with its tiered

jewel-like spires, was built as the world’s tallest building. It opened in 1930, took just 2 years to build and was 100 ft taller than its nearest rival, the Manhattan Company Building. Eleven months later it too was eclipsed by the magnifi- cent Empire State Building, which at 1250 ft tall was more than 200 ft taller than the Chrysler Building and took just 20 months to build. And all the while other buildings were emerging, each one aiming to be bigger or higher than its immediate neighbours.

These buildings came to symbolise American

wealth and power. America was emerging as a world-beater and the famous Manhattan skyline became its status symbol. In many ways it still is. Centuries before, churches and cathedrals grew bigger and taller as a testament to their religious standing, the taller the spire or tower, the closer they were to heaven. Many who financed the construction of churches believed that building them big and tall would elevate their personal standing in society and that they would be judged as most benevolent and virtuous, characteristics to hold them in good stead in this life and the next. Even now the race continues to reach for the

skies. Currently the tallest building is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which, at 2722 ft is more than twice the height of the Empire State Building and there is little doubt that this too will be beaten at some stage in the near future.

18 GS Magazine


ot one of the world’s top 30 tallest buildings is in Britain although recently we have had something of a love affair with height. Skyscrapers

have been popping up with alarming regular- ity over the past twenty years, mainly in our financial districts, and these have been welcomed by and large. Many have been given endearing nicknames, comparing their physical likenesses to gherkins or cheese graters, for example. Others have built public viewing platforms and charge us heavily for the privilege of standing tall. Others still have developed bars and restaurants within their highest floors, knowing that customers will be willing to pay a premium to be entertained at such heights. The Sky Garden atop 20 Fenchurch Street,

endearingly known as the Mobile Phone, has its own USP. First, it enjoys perhaps the very best uninterrupted views across London and second, it

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