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How to Build a Skyscraper

2274a7476f6d2ac7aedcdec0651d0542?s=47 Ernie Miller
September 02, 2015

How to Build a Skyscraper

Since 1884, humans have been building skyscrapers. This means that we had 6 decades of skyscraper-building experience before we started building software (depending on your definition of "software"). Maybe there are some lessons we can learn from past experience?

This talk won't make you an expert skyscraper-builder, but you might just come away with a different perspective on how you build software.

2274a7476f6d2ac7aedcdec0651d0542?s=128

Ernie Miller

September 02, 2015
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Transcript

  1. How to Build a Skyscraper

  2. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  3. How to Build a Skyscraper

  4. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  5. “ The problems posed in skyscraper design are considered among

    the most complex encountered given the balances required between economics, engineering, and construction management. — Wikipedia: Skyscraper Design and Construction
  6. 1870 Equitable Life Building New York, New York, USA

  7. 40m tall

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  13. Elisha Otis 1811 - 1861

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  19. #protip Higher is better. (but only if you can move

    up and down easily)
  20. A solution that seems unremarkable to you might just change

    everything for others. (so share what you build) #protip
  21. If failure occurs, don’t let people fall all the way

    down. (this is how we lose people) #protip
  22. None
  23. New York Times, January 11th, 1912

  24. None
  25. None
  26. Never underestimate the power of people to ruin your beautiful

    building. (consider testing your claims before they do) #protip
  27. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  28. 1885 Home Insurance Building Chicago, Illinois, USA

  29. William Le Baron Jenney 1832 - 1907

  30. 43m tall

  31. None
  32. Seek inspiration in unexpected places. #protip

  33. “ The American Skyscraper, 1850-1940: A Celebration of Height CC

    BY-NC-ND 3.0 No nineteenth-century skyscraper caused more controversy than did Chicago’s Home Insurance Building. Many claimed it was the Americas’ first skyscraper, others, of course, disagreed. Much depended upon whom you asked and much depended upon where they were from.
  34. Haters gonna hate. (don’t let that stop you from building)

    #protip
  35. Leroy S. Buffington 1847 - 1931

  36. None
  37. Ditherington Flax Mill Shrewsbury, UK Photo: Taliesin Edwards CC BY-SA

    3.0
  38. Patent trolls gonna patent troll. (meanwhile, you should be busy

    building) #protip
  39. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  40. 1891 Monadnock Building Chicago, Illinois, USA

  41. Peter Chardon Brooks III (1831-1920) Collection of the Massachusetts Historical

    Society Owen F. Aldis (1853-1925)
  42. Daniel Burnham 1846 - 1912 John Root 1850 - 1891

  43. None
  44. None
  45. All Giza Pyramids Ricardo Liberato CC BY-SA 2.0

  46. Embrace constraints. (otherwise, you’re gonna have a bad time —

    they’re everywhere) #protip
  47. None
  48. Monadnock Building David K. Staub CC BY-SA 2.5 66m tall

  49. None
  50. If your only concern is profitability, don’t be surprised when

    you start sinking. #protip
  51. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  52. 1902 Fuller Flatiron Building New York, New York, USA

  53. Daniel Burnham 1846 - 1912 John Root 1850 - 1891

  54. Daniel Burnham 1846 - 1912 Frederick Dinkelberg 1858 - 1935

  55. 87m tall

  56. 87m tall

  57. Flatiron “Point” Office Josh S. Jackson CC BY-NC 2.0

  58. The space you have to work with should influence how

    you build. (it’s better to have an oddly-shaped building than half a building) #protip
  59. Choose the right materials for the job. #protip

  60. None
  61. Corydon Purdy 1859 - 1944

  62. Testing makes it possible to be confident about what we

    build, even when others aren’t. #protip
  63. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  64. 1930 40 Wall Street - vs - The Chrysler Building

    New York, New York, USA
  65. William Van Alen 1883-1954 H. Craig Severance 1879-1941

  66. “ It wouldn’t have mattered what I decided to do

    — doctor or lawyer. I would have done them all as well. — H. Craig Severance, on becoming an architect
  67. 40 Wall Street Wikipedia: ChrisRuvulo CC BY-SA 3.0 Chrysler Building

    Jessica Spengler CC BY 2.0
  68. 40 Wall Street Walter P. Chrysler William Van Alen Chrysler

    Building Yasuo Matsui Richmond Shreve William Lamb H. Craig Severance
  69. 40 Wall Street Walter P. Chrysler William Van Alen Chrysler

    Building Yasuo Matsui Richmond Shreve William Lamb H. Craig Severance Announced: April, 1929 Announced height: 256m Announced: March, 1929 Announced height: 246m
  70. 40 Wall Street Walter P. Chrysler William Van Alen Chrysler

    Building Yasuo Matsui Richmond Shreve William Lamb H. Craig Severance Announced: April, 1929 Announced height: 256m Height in October: < 259m Announced: March, 1929 Announced height: 246m Height in October: 259m
  71. New Skyscraper Race is Won by Bank of Manhattan Building

    Plans Altered Twice to Beat Out Chrysler […] The Chrysler construction is so far advanced that further changes are impossible. […] — New York Evening Telegram, October 18th, 1929
  72. None
  73. There’s opportunity for great work in the places nobody else

    is looking. #protip
  74. The World’s Tallest Building Raises the Stars and Stripes to

    the New York Heavens — The New York World, November 12th, 1929
  75. 40 Wall Street Walter P. Chrysler William Van Alen Chrysler

    Building Yasuo Matsui Richmond Shreve William Lamb H. Craig Severance Announced: April, 1929 Announced height: 256m Height in October: < 259m 282.5m Announced: March, 1929 Announced height: 246m Height in October: 259m 319.5m Cost: $14,000,000 Cost: $13,091,416
  76. Big buildings are expensive. Big egos even more so. (your

    building is not you) #protip
  77. None
  78. “ — American Architect and Architecture, volume 138 This case

    should be a lesson to other architects who are inclined to depend on their artistic rather than on their business ability, for no client wants to start an operation which may wind up in a law suit.
  79. Heights you have yet to reach seem more impressive than

    they look once you get there. #protip
  80. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  81. 1931 Empire State Building New York, New York, USA

  82. Waldorf-Astoria Hotel New York, NY

  83. Al Smith 1873-1944 John J. Raskob 1879-1950

  84. “I’m to be an Irish landlord.” — Al Smith, addressing

    the press
 August 29th, 1929
  85. Richmond Shreve 1877-1946 William Lamb 1893-1952

  86. Richmond Shreve 1877-1946 William Lamb 1893-1952 Arthur Harmon 1878-1958

  87. “ — William Lamb, on designing the Empire State Building

    The program was short enough — a fixed budget, no space more than 38 feet [11.5m] from window to corridor, as many stories of as much space as possible, an exterior of limestone, and completion by May 1, 1931 […] The first three of these requirements produced the mass of the building and the latter two the characteristics of the design.
  88. When given a tight deadline, get ready to make concessions.

    #protip
  89. None
  90. None
  91. Even when making concessions, ensure a pleasant experience for those

    who matter. #protip
  92. Him

  93. Her

  94. Him

  95. Possibly him

  96. Definitely not him

  97. For Sale
 Flickr: chucka_nc CC BY-SA 2.0

  98. None
  99. None
  100. Reuse previous work. (even if it’s not originally yours) #protip

  101. November 18th, 1929

  102. November 18th, 1929 “ The determination of the height of

    the building will be based on the sound development of useable space. As we proceed with the plans the owners will be in a better position to determine what the height of the building is to be. — Richmond Shreve
  103. None
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  106. “ Building with an eye to the future, we have

    determined to build a mooring tower 200 feet [61m] high on top of the new Empire State Building. […] the Zeppelin would be anchored more than 1,300 feet [396m] in the air, with elevator facilities throughout the tower to land passengers downstairs seven minutes after the ship is anchored. — Al Smith, December 11th, 1929
  107. People can rationalize just about any decision. (that doesn’t excuse

    you from trying to talk them out of it) #protip
  108. None
  109. You might be able to design from top down, but

    you should build from bottom up. #protip
  110. None
  111. Demolition order for 'mountain villa' built on China rooftop A

    medicine mogul who spent six years building his own private mountain peak and luxury villa atop a high-rise apartment block in China's capital has been given 15 days to tear it down. — The Telegraph, August 13, 2013
  112. None
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  118. OK, this one isn’t at Empire State. “Lunch Atop a

    Skyscraper”, taken at Rockafeller Center, September 20, 1932
  119. Empire State Building David Shankbone CC BY-SA 3.0 381m 443m

    Opened: May 1st, 1931
  120. Speed is important, but life is more important. #protip

  121. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  122. 1952 United Nations Headquarters New York, New York, USA

  123. UN HQ Padraic Ryan CC BY-SA 3.0 155m tall

  124. None
  125. It doesn’t matter how pretty your building is, if nobody

    can tolerate being inside it. #protip
  126. Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing & Publishing Company Brooklyn, New York, USA

  127. Willis Carrier 1876-1950

  128. Willis Carrier 1876-1950

  129. None
  130. Alfred Wolff 1859 - 1909

  131. None
  132. Engineering cool things is good. Engineering cool things that people

    can actually use is better. #protip
  133. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  134. 1973 Willis (Sears) Tower Chicago, Illinois, USA

  135. Fazlur Rahman Khan 1928-1982

  136. Chicago from Hancock Todd Petrie CC BY 2.0

  137. None
  138. None
  139. KK 100 Shenzhen, China

  140. Majestic Centre Wellington, New Zealand

  141. 30 St. Mary Axe London, England Wikipedia: Diliff CC BY-SA

    3.0
  142. The higher you go, the windier it gets. (better develop

    a thick shell) #protip
  143. Wikipedia: Cmglee CC BY-SA 3.0

  144. 442m 527m Willis Tower Wikipedia: Soakoligist

  145. Multiple small structures working together can be more resilient than

    a single large building. #protip
  146. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  147. 2004 Taipei 101 Taipei, Taiwan

  148. Taipei 101 mailer_diablo CC BY-SA 3.0 508m 449m

  149. None
  150. None
  151. None
  152. CATASTROPHIC FAILURE

  153. “ […] the only way to assure a lack of

    failure is to test for all modes of failure, in both the laboratory and the real world. But the only way to know of all modes of failure is to learn from previous failures. — Wikipedia: Skyscraper Design and Construction
  154. “ Thus, no engineer can be absolutely sure that a

    given structure will resist all loadings that could cause failure, but can only have large enough margins of safety such that a failure is acceptably unlikely. — Wikipedia: Skyscraper Design and Construction
  155. Test to ensure catastrophic failure is acceptably unlikely. (and please,

    set a high bar for “acceptable”) #protip
  156. None
  157. None
  158. None
  159. None
  160. Be rigid where you have to be, and flexible where

    you can afford to be. (you’d be surprised how flexible you can afford to be) #protip
  161. Taipei 101 Tuned Mass Damper Armand du Plessis CC BY

    3.0
  162. None
  163. None
  164. When the winds pick up, it’s good to have someone

    big at the top pulling for you. #protip
  165. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  166. 2010 Burj Khalifa Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  167. September 11th, 2001

  168. Burj Khalifa Donaldytong CC BY-SA 3.0 828m tall

  169. Q: How do people get out of the Burj Khalifa

    in an emergency?
  170. They don’t. A:

  171. Leaving can’t be the only option. #protip

  172. None
  173. Create safe spaces. #protip

  174. None
  175. Don’t make the safe spaces hard to reach. #protip

  176. None
  177. Give people room to breathe. #protip

  178. None
  179. None
  180. None
  181. Eliminate toxic elements. #protip

  182. Dubai Civil Defense Imre Solt CC BY-SA 3.0

  183. Help each other. Especially those who aren’t in a position

    to help themselves. #protip
  184. People aren’t expendable. #protip

  185. This has not been a talk about skyscrapers.

  186. ¡MOLTES GRÀCIES! Ernie Miller erniemiller Watch and read more: Big,

    Bigger, Biggest: Skyscraper National Geographic https://youtu.be/eigBF19aYmA Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City Neal Bascomb http://amzn.to/1KoDRFt The Flatiron: The New York Landmark and the Incomparable City that Arose with It Alice Sparburg Alexiou http://amzn.to/1Ju1dDQ
  187. ¡MOLTES GRÀCIES! ❤ Ernie Miller erniemiller Watch and read more:

    Big, Bigger, Biggest: Skyscraper National Geographic https://youtu.be/eigBF19aYmA Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City Neal Bascomb http://amzn.to/1KoDRFt The Flatiron: The New York Landmark and the Incomparable City that Arose with It Alice Sparburg Alexiou http://amzn.to/1Ju1dDQ