/skuy"skray'peuhr/, n.
1. a relatively tall building of many stories, esp. one for office or commercial use.
2. Archit. a building of exceptional height completely supported by a framework, as of girders, from which the walls are suspended, as opposed to a building supported by load-bearing walls.
[1785-95; SKY + SCRAPER]

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Very tall multistoried building.

The term originally applied to buildings of 10–20 stories, but now generally describes high-rises of more than 40–50 stories. James Bogardus (1800–1874) built the pioneering Cast Iron Building, New York (1848), with a rigid iron frame providing the main support for upper-floor and roof loads. The refinement of the Bessemer process for making steel (lighter and stronger than iron) made extremely tall buildings possible. Chicago's Home Insurance Co. Building (1884–85), by William Le Baron Jenney (1832–1907), was the first tall building to use a steel skeleton. Structurally, skyscrapers consist of a substructure supported by a deep foundation of piles or caissons beneath the ground, an aboveground superstructure of columns and girders, and a curtain wall hung on the structural framework. Tube structures, braced tubes, and trussed tubes were developed to give skyscrapers the ability to resist lateral wind and seismic forces. The bundled-tube system, developed by Fazlur Khan (1928–1982), uses narrow steel tubes clustered together to form exceptionally rigid columns, and has been used to build some of the world's tallest skyscrapers (e.g., Sears Tower). Skyscraper design and decoration have passed through several stages: Louis Sullivan emphasized verticality; the firm of McKim, Mead, & White (see Charles F. McKim, Stanford White) stressed Neoclassicism. The International Style was ideally suited to skyscraper design. Originally a form of commercial architecture, skyscrapers have increasingly been used for residential purposes as well. See also setback.

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 very tall, multistoried building. The name first came into use during the 1880s, shortly after the first skyscrapers were built, in the United States. The development of skyscrapers came as a result of the coincidence of several technological and social developments. The term skyscraper originally applied to buildings of 10 to 20 stories, but by the late 20th century the term was used to describe high-rise buildings of unusual height, generally greater than 40 or 50 stories.

      The increase in urban commerce in the United States in the second half of the 19th century augmented the need for city business space, and the installation of the first safe passenger elevator (in the Haughwout Department Store, New York City) in 1857 made practical the erection of buildings more than four or five stories tall. Although the earliest skyscrapers rested on extremely thick masonry walls at the ground level, architects soon turned to the use of a cast- iron and wrought-iron framework to support the weight of the upper floors, allowing for more floor space on the lower stories. James Bogardus (Bogardus, James) built the Cast Iron Building (1848, New York City) with a rigid frame of iron providing the main support for upper-floor and roof loads.

  It was, however, the refinement of the Bessemer process, first used in the United States in the 1860s, that allowed for the major advance in skyscraper construction. As steel is stronger and lighter in weight than iron, the use of a steel frame made possible the construction of truly tall buildings. William Le Baron Jenney (Jenney, William Le Baron)'s 10-story Home Insurance Company Building (1884–85) in Chicago (Chicago School) was the first to use steel-girder construction. Jenney's skyscrapers also first employed the curtain wall, an outer covering of masonry or other material that bears only its own weight and is affixed to and supported by the steel skeleton. Structurally, skyscrapers consist of a substructure of piers (pier) beneath the ground, a superstructure of columns (column) and girders (girder) above the ground, and a curtain wall hung on the girders.

 As the population density of urban areas has increased, so has the need for buildings that rise rather than spread. The skyscraper, which was originally a form of commercial architecture, has increasingly been used for residential purposes as well.

  The design and decoration of skyscrapers have passed through several stages. Jenney and his protégé Louis Sullivan (Sullivan, Louis) styled their buildings to accentuate verticality, with delineated columns rising from base to cornice. There was, however, some retention of, and regression to, earlier styles as well. As part of the Neoclassical revival, for instance, skyscrapers such as those designed by the firm of McKim, Mead, and White were modeled after Classical Greek columns. The Metropolitan Life Insurance Building in New York City (1909) was modeled by Napoleon Le Brun after the Campanile of St. Mark's in Venice, and the Woolworth Building (1913), by Cass Gilbert (Gilbert, Cass), is a prime example of neo-Gothic decoration. Even the Art Deco carvings on such towers as the Chrysler Building (1930), the Empire State Building (1931), and the RCA Building (1931) in New York City, which were then considered as modern as the new technology, are now viewed as more related to the old ornate decorations than to truly modern lines.

  The International Style with its total simplicity seemed ideally suited to skyscraper design, and, during the decades following World War II, it dominated the field, notable early examples being the Seagram Building (1958) in New York City and the Lake Shore Drive Apartments (1951) in Chicago. The stark verticality and glass curtain walls of this style became a hallmark of ultramodern urban life in many countries. During the 1970s, however, attempts were made to redefine the human element in urban architecture. zoning ordinances encouraged the incorporation of plazas and parks into and around the bases of even the tallest skyscrapers, just as zoning laws in the first decades of the 20th century were passed to prevent city streets from becoming sunless canyons and led to the shorter, stepped skyscraper. Office towers, such as those of the World Trade Center (1972) in New York City and the Sears Tower (1973) in Chicago, continued to be built, but most of them, such as the Citicorp Center (1978) in New York City, featured lively and innovative space for shopping and entertainment at street level.

  Another factor influencing skyscraper design and construction in the late 20th and early 21st centuries was the need for energy conservation. Earlier, sealed windows that made necessary continuous forced-air circulation or cooling, for instance, gave way in mid-rise buildings to operable windows and glass walls that were tinted to reflect the sun's rays. Also, perhaps in reaction to the austerity of the International Style, the 1980s saw the beginnings of a return to more classical ornamentation, such as that of Philip Johnson's AT&T Building (1984) in New York City. See also high-rise building.

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Universalium. 2010.

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