How Long Are Skyscrapers Built To Last?

City skylines are iconic, and cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are easily recognizable by them. So, what’s the intended lifespan of a skyscraper? The earliest skyscraper — the Great Pyramid of Giza — was built in 2540 B.C. and it’s still standing. Will the world’s tallest skyscraper — Burj Khalifa in Dubai — the Empire State Building or the Sears Tower still be standing in the year 7,000 A.D., the equivalent if they exist as long as the pyramids? A common stress on skyscrapers is lightning strikes. One bolt can pack up to two billion volts. Skyscrapers are designed with protective enclosures, similar to the wire mesh on microwave oven doors, that divide and subdivide the energy from a lightning strike and guide it to the ground where it’s spread out harmlessly. Wind is the obvious stressor, and its speed increases with elevation. If the wind is strong enough, the building can collapse. That’s why skyscrapers are designed with irregular shapes and angles that prevent wind from becoming organized. So, will skyscrapers still be around in 7,000 A.D.? According to Bill Baker, the man responsible for the structural integrity of the world’s tallest skyscraper, yes. The primary threat to today’s skyscrapers isn’t that they’ll collapse, but that they’ll be torn down to make way for something better.